From the book: Green Technology Strategies


Green ICT (Green IT or Green Computing) is the study and practice of using computers and telecommunications in a way which maximises positive environmental benefit and minimises negative impact. Energy efficiency of equipment is a major concern of Green ICT, but also the energy embodied in the equipment and the use of materials and how they are recycled. Green ICT seeks to guide technological implementation using accepted management practises, in support of business interaction.

Green ICT is an emerging discipline philosophically centred on a concern for sustainable development and seeks ways to implement that through ICT systems. Beyond the direct environmental impact of the equipment, the way it can be used to reduce the adverse impact of other systems is of concern. Typically ways to use ICT to reduce materials and energy, such as by replacing travel with electronic communications, is a consideration.

What are the effects, both negative and positive of ICT? How much are these currently considered when choosing computer equipment? How will this change with carbon trading and mandatory reporting of CO2 emissions?

Keep in mind that ICT is only a business enabler in most organisations. How much do ICT professionals need to know about the business aims of the organisation to help with green ICT? Does anyone in the organisation know what the many components of the ICT system of the organisation (servers, application, network maintenance, email) are and how these contribute to the organisation's carbon footprint and waste material contribution? The organisation might currently measure its ICT operation in terms of dollars spent, person hours of effort, lines of code generated, Gflops or GBytes of storage. What metrics would be useful for measuring the organisations environmental impact?

Understanding climate science

Sustainability includes social, economic and environmental concerns. A good example of this are the issues around Climate Change, and Global Warming, specifically with an expected long-term significant increase in the average temperature around the world. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that during the 20th Century, the temperature has been increasing due to rising greenhouse gas concentrations. This is most likely due to human activity ("anthropogenic").

The major anthropogenic greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), with concentrations increasing due to burning fossil fuels and deforestation.Most relevant to ICT is the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas in electricity power stations to generate electricity, which is then used to power computers and telecommunications.


An increase in average global temperatures is expected to cause the retreat of glaciers, reduction in Arctic ice, and a rise in sea level, resulting in flooding. It is also expected to result in a change in regional weather patterns, with rain (precipitation) increased in some areas and reduced in others and an increase in storms (extreme weather events). This is likely to result in changes in agriculture, water supply and extinctions.


The two major responses to global warming are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adjust human activities to accommodate it. The primary international agreement on combating global warming is the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations. The primary method envisaged for implementation of the treaty is emissions trading, with companies purchasing credits to emit in a market, within a limit set by government.

Science, Measures and Responses

We will look at climate change, how to measure greenhouse emissions from ICT and how to deal with them, over the next three weeks.

In this first week we look at the science and the political responses. Professor Ross Garnaut was commissioned by Australian Federal and state governments to examine the impacts of climate change and recommend a policy framework to deal with it. His report provides an overview of the issues and is now being considered by the federal government.

Read now:

  1. ACS Policy Statement on Green ICT (August 2007). Read also the Wikipedia entry for Green computing and follow-up as takes your interest the resources that are identified in its See also and External links sections.
  2. Chapter 2 "Understanding climate science", of the Garnaut Climate Change Review Final Report, Commonwealth of Australia 2008.


  1. Suggest 3 outcomes for this subject: List at least 3 outcomes you want and expect from this subject.

  2. Effects and responses to climate change: Describe in up to three paragraphs, what effects Climate Change, and the responses to climate change, may have on the organisation in which you work (or one you are familiar with). Use the following questions as a guide:

    1. What industry is the organisation involved in?
    2. What are its principal lines of goods or services? Do these contribute to greenhouse gas production?
    3. Are there processes in place to reduce greenhouse gas production, or can you suggest some?
  3. Search for articles and papers: Search for sources of articles and papers on Green ICT (eg. CIO Magazine, Australian IT, Computer Weekly, Google Scholar etc). Identify and justify which you think are best.

From the book: Green Technology Strategies

This book is about how to reduce carbon emissions and achieve other environmental benefits by using computers and telecommunications technology. It is designed to be used within an online course for professionals, using mentored and collaborative learning techniques.

Title: Green Technology Strategies: Using computers and telecommunications to reduce carbon emissions

Copyright © , 2009

Publisher: Tomw Communications, PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia. Website:

New edition available: ICT Sustainability: Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future, September 2011.

These notes are used for the courses:

  1. Green ICT Strategies (ACS25): offered in the Postgraduate Program of Open Universities Australia and available from 2010 to students of Curtin University, Griffith University, Macquarie University, Monash University, RMIT University, Swinburne University and the University of South Australia,

  2. Green Technology Strategies: offered in the Computer Professional Education Program, Australian Computer Society (first run as "Green ICT Strategies" in February 2009), and

  3. Green Information Technology Strategies (COMP7310), in the Graduate Studies Select program, Australian National University (first run July 2009).

The notes were first published as an electronic and paperback book in 2009 (Green ICT, Tom Worthington, Tomw Communications, 2009). Students can download or print their own copy of the e-book from the course learning management system, which is likely to be more up to date.

Green Technology Strategies: Using computers and telecommunications to reduce carbon emissions by Tom Worthington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License, except for institutions covered by a Copyright Agency Ltd Statutory Licence.