Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010 - 2015

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

Section 3. Improving ICT energy and carbon management

The 2008 Review of the Australian Government's use of Information and Communication Technology reported a significant disconnect between the Australian Government's overall sustainability agenda and its ability to understand and manage energy costs and the carbon footprint of its ICT estate.33 The review also found that most agencies surveyed were unable to provide meaningful data in regard to energy use and costs.

This section addresses these issues and seeks to improve ICT energy and carbon performance in Australian Government operations by:

  • setting an ICT energy consumption target for Australian Government operations, which is supported by performance reporting arrangements;
  • identifying energy intensity measures and targets for use in Australian Government agencies; and
  • establishing ICT energy management plans in agencies that have an annual ICT spend of more than $20 million.34

These initiatives complement the mandatory environmental standards of EPEAT Silver (or equivalent) and ENERGY STAR (see Section 2), which have energy performance requirements for ICT equipment purchases.

The energy and carbon initiatives cited in this section complement the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), a key driver of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions mitigation policy. The initiatives also assist in the conservation of Australia's natural energy resources through containing or reducing ICT energy use.

3.1 Setting a whole-of-government ICT energy consumption target

The objective of setting an energy consumption target for Australian Government ICT operations is to provide an incentive to manage, monitor and report ICT energy performance.

A target will drive Australian Government agencies to seek continual energy efficiency improvement through the use of appropriate technologies, infrastructure and practices. These benefits can be examined on a whole-of-government and/or whole-of-business approach, as ICT may provide enabling opportunities to drive energy efficiency in other areas of operation. The ICT energy consumption target will include energy consumed by ICT equipment and energy consumed to operate server room and data centre facilities.

There are three primary steps to setting a whole-of-government ICT energy consumption target. These are:

  1. establishing a baseline for ICT energy consumption;
  2. forecasting the effect of agency energy efficiency; and
  3. forecasting the effect of external energy demand (eg. business growth).

The energy consumption target for Australian Government ICT operations will depend on the accuracy of information provided by agencies, alignment to sustainability initiatives, an agency's capacity to move to greater energy efficiency, and budgetary constraints on agencies.

While a whole-of-government ICT energy consumption target will be developed based on the above steps, subsequent progress and performance will be monitored using 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 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.

ACTION: A whole-of-government ICT energy consumption target will be developed with performance being monitored through the OSCAR system.

3.2 ICT energy intensity measures and targets

As described above, an energy consumption target will be derived for Australian Government ICT operations. There is also a need to compare ICT energy performance across agencies and to assist agencies to improve their performance. Energy intensity measures are tools to deliver this outcome.

In some agencies there is a business need for high numbers of energy intensive ICT equipment which will distort cross-agency benchmarking and performance analysis. This issue will be analysed and addressed through whole-of-government reporting in the early stages of the plan and may result in these agencies being grouped separately.

Energy intensity measures

Energy intensity measures have been identified for (1) desktop energy consumption including PCs, laptops, thin clients, printers and other desktop peripherals, and (2) data centre and server room energy consumption.

ACTION: Agencies are required to adopt energy intensity measures to manage ICT energy consumption. These are:

(1) Desktop energy

  • Desktop energy per end user - measures the desktop energy efficiency, which includes desktop equipment and peripherals, and can be benchmarked across government.34

(2) Data centre and server room energy

  • Power usage effectiveness (PUE) - measures the efficiency of ICT equipment and facilities energy in data centres and server rooms, and can be benchmarked across government.
  • NABERS Energy data centre rating(s) (available 2011) - measures ICT equipment and facilities energy efficiency and can be benchmarked across government. The NABERS energy rating philosophy measures total energy consumption compared with business drivers (eg. office buildings m²) to rate performance on a 0 to 5 star scale.

The PUE measurement is calculated by dividing the total data centre energy use by the data centre ICT energy use. All ICT equipment contained within the data centre or server room will be part of the PUE calculation, such as midrange, mainframe, and data and telecommunications.

Energy intensity targets

While an overall Australian Government ICT energy target will be developed, early improvements in energy efficiency and consumption by individual agencies will be encouraged by setting targets for specific aspects of an agency's ICT operations. Energy intensity targets for desktop energy per end user and PUE have been derived based on expected improvements in desktop and data centre energy performance.

TARGET: Agencies are to achieve energy intensity targets by July 2015 of:

  • 250 kWh or less per annum in desktop energy per end user; and
  • 1.9 or less power usage effectiveness (PUE) in data centres and server rooms.
Desktop energy efficiency improvements

The desktop energy per end user improvement will be driven by agencies implementing the Green ICT Quick Wins.35 Some examples of improving desktop energy efficiency are power management solutions, printer rationalisation and desktop virtualisation. A target of 90 per cent of all desktop computers is to be shut down after hours by July 2010 (or within six months from announcement of this plan), which supports the 250 kWh per annum energy intensity target. Refer to Appendix 2 for Green ICT Quick Wins and other sustainability initiatives.

Data centre energy efficiency improvements

The initiatives to improve data centre and server room performance are outlined in the Australian Government Data Centre Strategy 2010-2025. The strategy considers energy efficient technologies, consolidation strategies and improvements to data centre facilities infrastructure and design. Some of the technology improvements to gain energy efficiency benefits include the use of server virtualisation, cloud computing, storage de-duplication, thin provisioning, and disk spin-down.

The data centre PUE target recognises that facilities infrastructure and accommodation space requires an extended lead time to allow for a re-fit or to move to a more efficient premises.

ACTION: Agencies are required to adopt the initiatives listed in the Green ICT Quick Wins and the Australian Government Data Centre Strategy 2010-2025 to enable energy and carbon management improvements to desktop and data centre performance over the duration of the plan.

3.3 Agency ICT energy management plans

During March 2010, each agency with an ICT spend of more than $20 million developed an ICT energy management plan based on a standard template provided by DEWHA. The development of an ICT energy management plan is an important initiative for agencies to improve energy efficiency and carbon emission performance. An ICT energy management plan will also facilitate the use of ICT as an enabler of sustainability in other areas of an agency's operations.

ACTION: An agency's ICT energy management plan will be progressively enhanced to include the following key components:

  • ICT energy consumption baselines for ICT equipment categories;
  • provision for independent ICT energy assessments for agency data centres and server rooms to determine baseline energy measurements, including a calculation of PUE and NABERS energy data centre rating (available 2011);
  • ICT energy intensity measures and targets, and other energy performance indicators;
  • strategies for achieving targets, including implementing improvements under the Green ICT Quick Wins and the Australian Government Data Centre Strategy 2010-2025;36
  • opportunities to deploy ICT technologies to enable sustainability benefits in business and policy decision making processes;
  • opportunities to use or procure:
    • accredited renewable energies, particularly in data centre and server room operations; and
    • verifiable carbon offsets;
  • reporting arrangements for ICT energy consumption and intensities.

Agencies that have an organisational environmental management plan or energy management plan may elect to integrate the ICT components into either of these documents.

3.4 ICT energy and carbon reporting arrangements

The Energy Efficiency in Government's Operations (EEGO) policy outlines the requirements for annual energy performance reporting for Australian Government agencies. Agencies are required to submit annual energy and business data to the OSCAR database. The information is consolidated and tabled in Parliament as the report, Energy Use in the Australian Government's Operations. The report contains information on energy and carbon emission performance.

ACTION: The OSCAR database will be modified to allow ICT energy and carbon emission reporting.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 section 516A requires Australian Government agencies to report their environmental performance and contribution to ecologically sustainable development in their Annual Report. The agency is required to report historical and forecast consumption of greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water and waste.37 Minimising the ICT impact on the environment is also a component of this reporting cycle.

ACTION: Agencies are required to include in their Annual Report those policies, programs or initiatives that contribute to ecologically sustainable development, including managing energy and carbon emissions, e-waste and other impacts of ICT on the environment. This includes reporting of where ICT is used as an enabler of sustainability.

3.5 Agency targets

The targets below are set at a level to achieve real change in an agency's ICT operations. Agencies will implement ICT sustainability initiatives to improve performance equal to or beyond the following targets. Examples of ICT sustainability initiatives are outlined in Appendix 2.

  Government
Baseline
July
2010
July
2011
July
2012
July
2013
July
2014
July
2015
Desktop energy per end user (kWh per annum and 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%

Supporting notes to the above table

General
When measuring agency compliance with targets, regional and remote offices with less than 20 staff are excluded.
Targets are to be reviewed mid-term of the plan ie 2012-13.
Where no baseline is indicated no data exists at this point.

Managing energy consumption
Desktop energy per end user - target based on PCs shut down after hours and power management activated, printers rationalised and reduced desktop equipment from 1.6 to 1.2 per end user. Desktop energy includes desktop computers, laptops, thin clients, printers, scanners, MFDs and other desktop peripherals.
Power usage effectiveness (PUE) - target based on Data Centre Strategy 2010-2025 improvements and consolidation and other data centre energy improvement initiatives.
PCs and monitors off after hours (where operationally practical) - target based on agency rapid take-up of GreenICT Quick Wins.
The target includes all PCs, laptops and monitors other than those that can not be turned off due to their operational importance.
Desktop computers off target - applies from July 2010 or within 6 months from the plan's announcement.

32 Review of Australian Government's use of information and communication technology, Commonwealth of Australia, August 2008, Section 3, pp53-54  www.finance.gov.au/publications/ICT-Review/docs/Review-of-the-Australian-Governments-Use-of-Information-and-Communication-Technology.pdf 

33 An energy management plan is synonymous with an energy efficiency plan. The Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) policy uses the term 'energy management plan'.' An agency may elect to integrate the ICT energy management components into their broader agency environmental or energy management plans.

34 The term 'end user' will be aligned to an appropriate definition, such as (1) Full Time Equivalent staff, or (2) occupied workpoint, or (3) APS employee

35 Green ICT Quick Wins, Australian Government Information Management Office, July 2009, www.finance.gov.au/e-government/strategy-and-governance/sustainable-ict/quick-wins.html 

36 Green ICT Quick Wins, Australian Government Information Management Office, July 2009, www.finance.gov.au/e-government/strategy-and-governance/sustainable-ict/quick-wins.html  ; Australian Government Data Centre Strategy 2010-2025, Australian Government Information Management Office, March 2010, www.finance.gov.au/e-government/infrastructure/docs/AGDC_Strategy.pdf 

37 Senate Committee on Finance and Public Administration, Annual Reports (No.1 of 2008), March 2008, p.28