Minimise your carbon footprint by building a robust, sustainable ICT strategy. Here’s how:

ICT Strategy and Sustainability

One of the most common questions I am asked about ICT and sustainability is “where do I start?”

It’s a very valid question, and the prospect of trying to change a whole ICT provision to consume less energy and have a much lower carbon footprint can seem particularly challenging given the rapid rate of change in technology. The first steps don’t have to be particularly onerous, difficult, or indeed expensive, though, as one of the most effective first steps can be to consider sustainability as part of your longer-term ICT Strategy.

Firstly, it’s worth taking time out to consider what you want to achieve, and the timescale that you want to achieve it in. It may be most appropriate to swap out hardware and equipment within the usual refresh cycles, and setting a target for reducing energy consumption at a point in the future gives a clear statement of intent whilst also enabling the changes to be made in a managed and controlled way.

An ICT Strategy is the ideal starting point for understanding and working out how ICT and technology generally are going to work in the future and how they will contribute towards lowering your carbon footprint. These may be relatively simple steps like moving from a fixed desktop-based solution to more mobile devices, it may be moving server and storage technologies to the cloud, or it might include more complex things like incorporating new buildings and environmental monitoring into your solution. Either way, an ICT Strategy is the right starting point to make the link between what you need your ICT provision to do and how you will achieve this in a sustainable way.

An ICT Strategy is also a great place to identify when and how you are going to move to a sustainable future, how much it is likely to cost (and, of course, what you need to budget to make it happen), as well as identifying the key policies and associated documents that you need to produce or update to make sure everyone in your organisation is on board and understands what’s happening. Similarly, your ICT Strategy can identify training and development needs across the organisation if you are changing or adapting technology.

A good place to start is an ICT Strategy Group, with key stakeholders across your organisation brought together to discuss the different ways that your organisation uses ICT and how you can adapt your technology and its usage to be more sustainable. It is also recommended that key members of your organisation attend a Carbon Literacy Training Course to brush up on the latest thinking and ideas for sustainability. You can get further information about relevant courses from the Carbon Literacy Project.

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