Learning to lower costs and carbon emissions with ICT

Tom Worthington FACS HLM

Designer of the ACS and ANU Green ICT Courses

Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University

For the ACS Victorian Branch 2009 Conference, Creswick, Victoria, 15 May 2009
Preview at High Bandwidth for Australia, Public Sphere Workshop, ANU, Canberra, 7 May 2009 and repeated for ANU Green IT Working Group, 27 July 2009; SLUG, Google Sydney, 31 July 2009 and Web Standards Group, National Library of Austalia, Canberra, 15 October 2009

The first globally accredited Green ICT course for computer professionals commenced on 18 January 2009. The course designer claims trained ICT professionals could triple the Government's 5% greenhouse target and achieve a 15% reduction in emissions by 2020.

ICT professionals can now enhance their career prospects by skilling up to meet the carbon emissions requirements the federal government is imposing on private and public sector organisations. Higher energy costs will require new skills to assess new aspects of computer procurement and also create new opportunities to help business re-engineer its operations and scope to expand the ICT function into new technology areas.

See how to:

  1. Estimate the carbon footprint of the ICT operations of an organisation
  2. Assess ways to reduce the carbon footprint of an organisation, by changes to policies for procurement of ICT, changes to the ICT operations and revising business processes

The course is conducted entirely via the Internet using Australia developed e-learning software. A blended version of the course is to be offered in ANU's Masters program from July 2009.

25% to 50% CO2 Reduction needed by 2020



The Senate Standing Committee on Economics is holding a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Inquiry . It is inadequate to aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to between 5% and 15% below 2000 levels by 2020, as detailed in the Draft Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill. The bill should be changed to aim for a 25% to 50% per cent reduction, as advised by IPCC scientists.

A reduction of 15% can be delivered just by the use of more effective use of computers and telecommunications (ICT).

First global Green ICT Course

Green ICT

Students learn how to:

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 minimise the negative impact.

The energy efficiency of operating equipment is a major concern of Green ICT. The embodied energy and lifecycle of the materials used in the design, manufacture and reuse and recycling of equipment and components are also concerns. Green ICT seeks to inform accepted management practises to achieve efficient and effective business interaction.

Business ICT Competencies

Zonbu miniature PC

The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) provides a common reference model for the identification of the skills needed to develop effective Information Systems (IS) making use of Information & Communications Technology (ICT).

Green ICT Strategies target SIFA Level 5 competencies: "ensure, advise: Broad direction, supervisory, objective setting responsibility. Influences organisation. Challenging and unpredictable work. Self sufficient in business skills".

Learning by Doing

Two areas of assessment:

  1. Assignments
    1. Write a report on the carbon footprint of the ICT operations of your organisation
    2. Write a report identify ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your organisation
  2. Contributions to the discussion forums

Students Teach Each Other

Moodle e-learning system provides:

  1. Online discussion forums
  2. Tools for students to author content

The tutors fostering discussion, not presenting content.

See: Computer Professional Education using Mentored and Collaborative Online Learning, David Lindley, IJCIM Special Issues on e-learning, Vol.15 No. SP4, November, 2007.

The ACS and the ANU use the Australian developed Moodle open source Learning Management System. This is used to provide forums for students to discuss what they are learning, not just receive content prepared by teachers. This also teaches students how to use the same online collaboration techniques in the workplace.

The techniques of using mentored collaborative online learning for computer professional education were developed for the ACS by David Lindley.

Online References Used

  1. The Engineering Sustainable Solutions Program, Sustainable IT Lecture Series, Natural Edge Project, 2008
  2. The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), Green Electronics Council. GEC 2006.
  3. Energy Star Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, 2007
  4. The Personal Computer and Monitors Energy Efficiency Strategy, Tom Worthington, Report and Recommended Plan of Action, prepared for the Department of Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Version 1.0, 23 September 2008.

Some Green ICT Topics

Note: Part 2 of the video of the presentation starts at the point.

Dematerialisation: doing more with less

Research sponsored by the ACS, and others, shows that about 1.5% to 2% of carbon emissions in developed countries are due to ICT. Unless measures, such as those covered in the Green ICT course are applied, this figure is likely to rise. However, even with extensive application of power saving techniques, ICT is unlikely to able to contribute more than a 1% reduction in overall emissions. The larger area for savings is through ICT being used to make other processes more efficient and less polluting.

Better ICT can reduce energy use, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time lowering costs. As an example, the Australian Government is planning to replace interstate travel for some meetings with high-definition video teleconferencing.

As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air travel, the use of teleconferences will reduce the cost of airfares. This process of "dematerialisation".

Social Networking for Education and CO2 Reduction

ACS introducing Mahara for courses:

  1. NZ Government open source web application
  2. ePortfolio for students to display their course or RPL work
  3. Social networking for education and business (LinkedIn.com)
  4. Reducing meetings an CO2 emissions

The ACS is introducing the Mahara open source ePortfolio and social networking web application developed by the New Zealand government. It allows students to create a portfolio of their work to demonstrate they have met the learning objectives through the course or by recognition of prior learning.

The social networking features to allow users to interact with each other for tutorials and projects. In addition to using this to learn in the course, it will be a valuable skill to apply in the workplace. The students can learn how to use these techniques in a businesslike way, to achieve organizational goals.

Apart from increasing learning and business efficiency, ePortfolios and social networking can be sued to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Workers will be able to identify human resources for their projects via ePortfolios and arrange the work using social networking. A current commercial example of this is LinkedIn.com. Organisations can use applications such as Mahara to create their own internal equivalent sites.

ICT for Public Transport

iButton on a plastic fob


  1. E-tickets
  2. online timetables and mapping
  3. Encourage public transport to reduce CO2

The Istanbul Public Transport System uses the Akbil with a 1-Wire (iButton) smart chip in a small metal can. This is attached to a key fob or credit card, and pressed on a reader at the turn-style to board the train, tram, bus or ferry. Such electronic ticketing systems encourage the use of public transport, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from private cars.

Online services such as Google's trip planner can be used to plot a route by public transport, in much the same way navigation devices in cars are now used. This can be used to replace private car use, as for example to get to this conference.

More Information

Slides for these notes and a video of an earlier presentation (Part 1 and Part 2)are also available.

Copyright © 2009 (Version 1.2, 6 May 2009) Tom Worthington

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Green ICT Strategies: Lowering Cost and Carbon Emissions with ICT by Tom Worthington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License.
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