Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010 - 2015

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2010

Overview

Background

In response to the 2008 Review of the Australian Government's use of information and communication technology (Gershon Review)1, the Australian Government has initiated a comprehensive ICT reform program which includes the development of this whole-of-government ICT sustainability plan.

Among other things, the Gershon Review recommended that the Australian Government align its ICT operations with the Government's overall sustainability agenda and improve its ability to understand its energy costs and the carbon footprint of its ICT estate. Consistent with this view, the Government decided that the ICT sustainability plan should:

  • identify which of the available environmental standards should be adopted as mandatory for relevant ICT acquisitions;
  • identify the steps to develop a whole-of-government ICT energy consumption target and associated reporting arrangements;
  • establish ICT energy intensity measures and/or targets; and
  • take into account potential implications of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) and other ICT sustainability initiatives.

The Government also decided that Australian Government agencies with an annual ICT spend over $20 million would develop an ICT energy management plan2, and that agencies would undertake periodic independent ICT energy assessments of their data centres and server rooms.

In addition, the plan should consider the contribution that ICT can make more broadly to achieving more sustainable practices in the community.

Context

This Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010 - 2015 complements the Government's current policies, guidelines and infrastructure in relation to climate change and improved environmental performance.3 It reinforces agency obligations under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999, Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) policy, e Government strategy and other greening of government initiatives. It also takes into account other relevant Government and industry initiatives relating to product stewardship, in particular the National Packaging Covenant (NPC) and the National Waste Policy (NWP).4

The plan outlines strategies and actions that will assist Australian Government agencies to introduce low carbon emission initiatives to improve the sustainability of their ICT operations. This aligns with the Australian Government's carbon emissions mitigation strategy (including the proposed CPRS) and its commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent of 2000 levels by 2050. The plan also serves to inform industry of the Government's ICT sustainability agenda.

Environmental standards in ICT procurement

Australian Government agencies currently manage significant quantities of ICT equipment, estimated at 350 000 PCs and laptops, 14 000 servers, and 37 500 imaging devices, as well as the consumables used in this equipment such as toner cartridges and copy paper. This volume of activity raises significant environmental management concerns over the life cycle of products, mainly relating to energy use, carbon emissions, e-waste and hazardous materials, packaging and the sustainable use of precious and scarce metals.

In this context, the Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010 - 2015 involves the implementation of sustainable procurement principles and practices in relation to ICT. Sustainable procurement aims to promote more environmentally responsible products and services, improve product stewardship, avoid unnecessary demand and consumption, and assess ICT products on a life cycle impact basis. These principles are introduced into Australian Government ICT procurement processes through the use of mandatory environmental standards which sets a minimum level of environmental performance for relevant ICT acquisitions.

Australian Government agencies are required to adopt the following mandatory environmental standards in ICT procurement processes5:

  • compliance with ISO 14024 or ISO 14021 at the level of EPEAT Silver or equivalent as a minimum standard for relevant ICT equipment;
  • compliance with the current ENERGY STAR version for relevant ICT equipment;
  • product take-back and appropriate resource recovery, reuse or recycling for (a) mobile devices, such as mobile phones, PDAs and Blackberry devices; (b) toner cartridges; and (c) ICT equipment covered by the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme under the National Waste Policy;6
  • general use office copy paper to have a minimum post-consumer recycled content of 50 per cent by July 2011, with progression to 100 per cent post-consumer recycled content;
  • participation by ICT suppliers in the National Packaging Covenant by July 2011 or compliance with the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Material) Measure (UPM NEPM); and
  • adoption by suppliers of an environmental management system aligned to ISO 14001.

There will be transitional arrangements for suppliers to reach some mandatory standards, for example suppliers will be given six months from the date of contract signing to align business processes to the EMS ISO 14001 standard (Note: this is not EMS ISO certification).

Energy and carbon emission management

The Australian Government is committed to improving energy efficiency, carbon emission management and environmental performance in Australian Government ICT operations. To this end, large agencies are required to implement an ICT energy management plan that will facilitate improvements in technology, infrastructure and practice.7 These plans will include improvements from the Green ICT Quick Wins and the Australian Government Data Centre Strategy 2010-2025, which will have a considerable impact on energy efficiency and carbon emission performance across government.8

A whole-of-government ICT energy consumption target will be developed using various sources, including data gathered from the ICT energy management plans of large agencies, with subsequent progress and performance being monitored through the existing online system for comprehensive activity reporting (OSCAR). Changes will be made to the OSCAR database to support ICT energy and carbon emission reporting in Australian Government operations.

Preliminary analysis indicates that Australian Government ICT operations can expect to improve energy performance by up to 20 per cent on current consumption levels by July 2015 due to improvements to desktop and data centre energy efficiencies. This equates to around 325 000 tonnes of carbon emissions mitigated over the five-year term of the plan. A more accurate calculation will be determined through detailed analysis arising from the whole-of-government ICT energy consumption target process as outlined above.

Agency targets

To ensure the primary objective of improved environmental performance is achieved, the plan sets targets for agencies across their ICT operations (see summary table below). The targets are set at a level to achieve real change. Agencies will implement ICT sustainability initiatives9 to improve performance equal to or beyond the targets indicated.10

When measuring agency compliance with targets, regional and remote offices with less than 20 staff are excluded.

Using ICT to enable broader sustainability

ICT can be an enabler of more environmentally sustainable practices within Australian Government operations and it can also promote sustainability in industry and the broader community. The plan requires agencies to incorporate in their decision-making processes consideration of the effective use of technologies to promote sustainability across its economic, social and environmental dimensions.

Transformational change

The plan is designed to promote transformational change at both organisation level and system level. Its initiatives are, therefore, linked to an agency's non-ICT operations as well as the policies and programs of the Australian Government overall.

Summary of measures

  Gov’t
Baseline
July
2010
July
2011
July
2012
July
2013
July
2014
July
2015
Sustainable procurement (section 2.1) Implemented in procurement processes from 1/7/2010 or commencement of plan but allowing transitional arrangements for suppliers
Relevant ICT equipment meets ISO14024 or ISO14021 standards at a level of EPEAT Silver or equivalent as a minimum standard              
ICT equipment complies with current ENERGY STAR version              
Product take-back and appropriate resource reuse or recovery for mobiles; toner cartridges; and ICT equipment covered by national e-waste recycling scheme of NWP              
General use office copy paper (post consumer recycled content)     50%
recycled
      100%
recycled
Suppliers participate in National Packaging Covenant (July 2011) or comply with Used Packaging Materials NEPM              
Suppliers EMS aligned to ISO14001              
Managing resource consumption and demand (section 2.2)
Internal copy paper per end user (reams per annum) 18.6     13     9
Desktop computers to printer ratio 8:1     14:1     20:1
Desktop devices) per end user 1.6:1     1.4:1     1.2:1
Managing waste (section 2.2)
e-waste reused or recycled               75%
ICT packaging recycled (targets as per NPC timeframes) 48%
(2003)
65%          
Managing energy consumption (section 3.5)
Desktop energy per end user (kWh per annum, averaged across agency) 630     400     250
Power usage effectiveness (PUE) in data centres and server rooms 2.5           1.9
Desktop computers off after hours   90%          

Notes:

  1. When measuring agency compliance with targets, regional and remote offices with less than 20 staff are excluded.
  2. Targets to be reviewed mid-term of the plan ie 2012-13.
  3. Where no baseline is indicated no data exists at this point.
  4. General use copy paper target - flexibility will be considered for special circumstances.
  5. Desktop computers to printer ratio target - flexibility will be considered for special circumstances.
  6. Energy intensity baselines are preliminary estimates and will be reviewed after the first energy reporting cycle of the plan's implementation.
  7. Desktop computers off target - applies from July 2010 or within 6 months of the plan's announcement.

Summary of outcomes, strategies and actions

The main aim of the Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010 - 2015 is to improve environmental performance and reduce carbon emissions across government and the ICT industry. This aim will be achieved through a framework of outcomes, strategies and actions. The stated outcomes are aligned with Australian Government policies and programs which directly and indirectly impact on sustainability.

Outcome Strategy Action
1. Improved energy efficiency
2. Reduced carbon emissions
3. Reduced waste
4. Improved overall environmental performance

Improve sustainable ICT procurement processes
[Section 2]

Key outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Agencies will apply mandatory environmental standards in ICT procurements, including:

  • compliance with ISO 14024 or ISO 14021 at the level of EPEAT Silver or equivalent as a minimum standard for relevant ICT equipment.
  • ENERGY STAR as the minimum energy standard for relevant ICT equipment.
  • general use office copy paper to have a minimum post-consumer recycled content of 50 per cent by July 2011, with progression to 100 per cent post-consumer recycled content by July 2015.
  • end-of-use product take-back and appropriate resource recovery or reuse for mobile devices; toner cartridges; and ICT equipment covered by the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme under the National Waste Policy (NWP).
  • participation by ICT suppliers in the National Packaging Covenant (NPC) by July 2011 or compliance with the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Material) Measure (UPM NEPM).
  • ICT suppliers to have an environmental management system aligned to the ISO 14001 standard.

Agencies will apply the provisions of the Green ICT Procurement Kit.

Agencies will apply sustainability principles and practices and implement strategies to effectively manage ICT resource consumption, resource demand and waste.

Agencies will include an appropriate measure or weighting for environmental criteria within ICT procurement evaluations.

Improve ICT energy and carbon management
[Section 3]

Key outcomes: 1, 2

An Australian Government ICT energy consumption target will be set.

Agencies will implement Green ICT Quick Wins initiatives and improvements listed in the Data Centre Strategy 2010-2025.

Large agencies will implement an ICT energy management plan (EMP), which can be part of a wider agency EMP that includes implementation of improvements from Green ICT Quick Wins initiatives, Data Centre Strategy 2010-2025, internal energy intensity measures and targets, and periodic independent ICT energy assessments for data centres and server rooms.

Agencies will report ICT energy and carbon emissions through the online system for comprehensive activity report (OSCAR) and in Annual Reports.

The OSCAR database will be modified to allow ICT reporting.

Using ICT to improve sustainability
[Section 4]

Key outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Agencies will actively pursue the use of ICT to improve environmental performance within government operations and in the delivery of government programs and services to achieve more sustainable economic, social and environmental outcomes.

Online information and better practice case studies will be developed and issued indicating where ICT can be used as an enabler of sustainability in government operations.

Strengthen agency management systems
[Section 5]

Key outcome: 4

Agencies will conduct an environmental risk assessment and integrate significant ICT aspects into their EMS.

Agencies will review their internal governance arrangements and integrate ICT sustainability into internal documentation.

Agencies will implement strategies to raise awareness, provide training programs, and monitors and reports performance through a GreenICT Scorecard.

Leadership, governance and management
[Section 6]

Key outcome: 4

A nominated agency will provide central coordination, guidance and support for agencies when implementing the plan.

About this plan

Scope

The Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010 - 2015 is a five year plan applicable to Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) agencies. Other government agencies are also encouraged to implement the plan.

ICT Sustainability definition

Giving consideration to the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD), outlined in Section 3A of the EPBC Act, the following definition of ICT sustainability has been developed for the plan.

ICT sustainability in government is the responsible acquisition, installation, use and disposal of information and communications technologies and services so as to utilise resources more effectively, improve efficiency and increase productivity, and reduce the environmental impact of operations. It also includes the effective use of information and communications technology to promote more sustainable practices in industry and the community.

Plan development

The plan has been developed by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), in consultation with the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) within the Department of Finance and Deregulation. It is based on extensive research and consultation with key stakeholders, including Australian Government agencies, international governments, industry and other interested parties.

A public discussion paper was released in September 2009 to seek input from industry and other interested parties.11 There were 21 submissions received and these helped to inform the development of the plan.

An Interdepartmental Committee (IDC) provided valuable direction in the plan's development and was an important conduit for Australian Government agency consultation. The IDC comprised representatives from small, medium and large Australian Government agencies.

Following additional consultation with agencies the Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010-2015 was endorsed by the Secretaries' ICT Governance Board (SIGB) in February 2010 and approved by the Australian Government in July 2010.

Mid-term review

A comprehensive mid-term review will be initiated to determine agency progress against targets and objectives. The mid-term review activities are outlined in Section 6.

1 Review of the Australian Government's use of information and communication technology, Commonwealth of Australia, August 2008, www.finance.gov.au/publications/ICT-Review/docs/Review-of-the-Australian-Governments-Use-of-Information-and-Communication-Technology.pdf 

2 The Government used the term energy efficiency plan, this is synonymous with energy management plan which is used in the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) policy and taken up in this plan. See Section 3 for further details on agency energy management plans.

3 DEWHA, September 2009, Whole-of-Government ICT Sustainability Plan Discussion Paper, Appendix 4 www.environment.gov.au/sustainability/government/ictplan/discussion-paper.html

4 Refer to Section 2.1 for information relating to the NPC and the NWP.

5 Refer to Section 2 for supporting notes on these targets.

6 The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme is also referred to as the 'national e-waste recycling scheme' in this document.

7 Agencies may elect to integrate ICT elements into an existing corporate energy management plan or environmental management plan.

8 ICT Reform Program, 2009, www.finance.gov.au/e-government/strategy-and-governance/ict-reform-program.html 

9 Examples of ICT sustainability initiatives are outlined in Appendix 2.

10 Refer to Sections 2 and 3 for details and supporting notes on agency targets.

11 DEWHA, September 2009, Whole-of-Government ICT Sustainability Plan Discussion Paper, www.environment.gov.au/sustainability/government/ictplan/discussion-paper.html