Government leads Australia on ICT sustainability but lags globally

By GovTechReview Staff
Friday, 12 October, 2012

Measuring cost of ICT power consumption correlated with improved sustainability scores

Australian organisations have backed away from ICT sustainability initiatives, falling below global standards in Fujitsu's latest sustainability reporting benchmarks.

The company's third ICT Sustainability: The Global Benchmark report comprised interviews with 1200 CIOs and senior managers from eight countries between April and July of this year. Each was given an ICT Sustainability Index (ITSx) score, with the global average declining from 54.3 last year to 53.1 this year. The index peaked at 56.4 in 2010.

Leading sustainability efforts in their various categories were the USA (57.3), utilities/construction/mining sector (56.5), and financial services in the USA (66.8).

Australia's score of 50.1 this year, represented a decline from the 2011 score of 52.8 and 2010's score of 53.9 and put the country well behind global averages. Australia was ranked second-last on the ITSx scale, just ahead of China.

Fujitsu found a strong correlation between sustainability efforts and formal programs for tracking the cost of ICT power bills and energy consumption. While just 23.1% of those surveyed actually included the cost of ICT power consumption in their budget, those that did scored nearly twice as high on Fujitsu's sustainability benchmarks than those that did not – an average ITSx of 67.6 versus 34.8.

Australian organisations were acknowledged as having improved their consideration of power bills in ICT planning – less than 1% did this last year and 8.7% have done it this year – but this is well behind the 23.1% overall average. Japan led on this metric, with 38.5% factoring in power bills.

Australia also lagged in terms of the number of ICT departments with control of budgeting and managing power consumption – 8.7%, compared with 17.7% of ICT departments in the UK and 30% in India.

Organisations that included the cost of ICT power consumption in their budget scored nearly twice as high on Fujitsu's sustainability benchmarks than those that did not – an average ITSx of 67.6 versus 34.8.

Fujitsu reported general ITSx declines across many industries, noting also that Australia's relatively low environmental management score (46.2) regulation wasn't producing higher ITSx scores; the US, with less rigorous environmental standards, scored 55.6.

Australian government bodies' ITSx was 53.7, making it the best-performing industry in the country and the only sector to beat the global average ITSx of 53.1. Yet Australia's government sector was still beaten by the governments of New Zealand (60.0), Canada (59.5), UK (59.3), and US (58.1).

“The survey revealed clear opportunities for all organisations, regardless of size or industry, to enhance the use of technology to improve efficiencies and significantly reduce costs," Chris Seale, Director of Sustainability for Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement. "ICT departments, across all sectors, are in a position to play a leadership role in enabling sustainable business practices for enhanced business performance.”

The report urges organisations to include financial metrics to clarify and support their sustainability cases. Assessing the financial impact of these measures using metrics such as the marginal abatement cost curve, net present value, internal rate of return and payback will, Fujitsu argues, make it "easier to engage executive teams to act on ICT sustainability".

"By engaging in this process," the report's authors continued, "CIOs can more easily answer questions such as the true costs of running desktop fleets, the potential benefits of moving to the cloud, or the potential impact of a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy….by proactively managing their energy consumption, organizations can bridge the divide between the motivations behind ICT sustainability (alleviating environmental impact) and business outcomes (achieving cost savings and efficiency gains). Improving ICT sustainability then becomes a smart business decision." – David Braue

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