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Digital public sector news, research & engagement

To add details of your council's green initiatives email LGITU editor, Helen Olsen.

Green baseline at Woking

Woking Borough Council has a system whereby, before approval, all projects need to have a mandate and business case that includes environmental sustainability factors and has the total cost of ownership.

A standard template has to be completed indicating the environmental impacts and how this has been taken into account in project planning and recommendations. The scope and depth of the information required depends on the scale of the project – the bigger the project the more detail needed.

IT manager, Adele Devon, puts this into context with a recent project on VM Ware and virtualisation: “The team collated various parameters and figures from calculators proving the environmental and business case for pursuing a virtualisation strategy – replacing existing servers with virtualised servers. It covered expected environmental impacts, cost savings and related costs such as the offset on air conditioning.”

Devon is quick to point out that the base figures are indeed difficult to gather and that the calculator tools used were based on server technical specifications rather than actual energy measurements. But she adds that it is a good starting place to work from, creating a baseline from which to track the project’s progress and outcomes across a range of indicators.

Woking has long been a leader in green issues and is believed to have been the first to adopt a comprehensive climate change strategy aimed at meeting the CO2 reduction targets of 60% by 2050 and 80% by 2100. It is using sustainable fuel cells and created the first heating and cooling sustainable energy station in the country. It has adopted numerous energy and water saving initiatives, ploughing money saved back into other environmental measures to further improve energy efficiency.

Using this experience, the council has set up a wholly owned subsidiary, Thameswey Limited, providing advice to the public and private sector on all aspects of sustainable energy and carbon reduction.

Virtually green in Notting Hill

Plan-Net has helped Notting Hill Housing Group (NHHG) implement a virtual desktop solution based on VMWare VDI that has not only reduced costs and space requirements, but has improved the IT service to users and helped NHHG to meet its carbon footprint targets. Leostream, a desktop connection broker, and WYSE thin client terminals were brought in to facilitate direct access to the hosted desktops.

Bassetlaw’s inadvertent green success

Bassetlaw District Council’s IT department has reduced the number of its physical servers from 36 down to four a year ago and accumulated financial savings ever since - air conditioning running costs have fallen 25 percent and electricity bills have seen a £10,000 pa saving amounting to 11 tonnes of CO2.

However the successful project did not start as a green initiative says IT services manager, Mick Coley: “We were dealing with a much wider problem. The whole council was faced with the fact that the available electricity supply capacity was limiting future expansion of its electronic services.”

Subsidiary benefits of the project, implemented by Alpha Business Computers, included running cost savings, lower technical support and administration costs, more energyefficient hardware and software and reduced accommodation requirements. It also provided the platform for an improved, more resilient and quicker procedure for continuing delivery of council services in the event of unforeseen disruptions.

A number of neighbouring authorities and organisations have visited Bassetlaw to see the solution. Andrew Brammall, Doncaster’s production services support manager, said, “Doncaster were very impressed following the visit to Bassetlaw, and found a number of environmental and other benefits that were a major factor in Doncaster’s decision to implement similar solutions.”

Leeds leads green charge

Leeds' ICT team has instigated new environmental criteria, based on the EPEAT Gold standard, into its ICT procurement process – all new laptops, for example, must contain a number of recyclable elements. It currently has a refresh target of 100 PCs and monitors each week with zero waste thanks to partner Computacenter’s environmentally friendly disposal serviceLast year the ICT team also used a variety of initiatives to reduce energy consumption in their department by 10% and have saved 172,000kWh. A review of its servers found that 138 were suitable for virtualisation: the team has now reduced down to ten servers. This has not only improved business processes but will also save 767 tonnes of carbon emissions over the next three years.In a cultural change washing through the council Leeds plans to boost its ‘green’ credentials even further over the next year through initiatives such as print management. On the basis that ‘every little counts’, the council’s ICT service delivery manager has gone as far as selling his car and chooses to cycle his 16-mile daily commute.

Hillingdon cuts IT carbon footprint

Hillingdon has cut its hardware footprint by 97 percent, and carbon emissions by 20 percent, in just 18 months with help from Compellent and VMware. Faced with 100 percent year-on-year data growth - driven by expanding employee email boxes, use of digital images and need to retain ever more documentation – it has replaced its disparate array of servers and storage hardware with a greener virtual environment. It has reduced 94 production servers to just three, and the number of server rooms from three to two. The subsequent power reduction from 34kW to 1.1kW is saving £20,000 annually. Meanwhile, Hillingdon’s enhanced ICT Service Desk operation has enabled a significant increase in the take up of staff homeworking agreements, saving 55,000 travel kilometres in the past year alone.  The council has also delivered £6m of capital through sales of now redundant council buildings – with an additional £0.45m saved in annual revenue and £1.1m in cost avoidance through the closure of non-central office space by the end of 2008.

Keeping cool in North Tyneside

North Tyneside Council has significantly reduced energy usage and found efficiency savings of up to 20 percent through implementation of a new server room from Keysource. The resilient and innovative energy efficient 36 rack ‘free cooling’ solution, using in-row chilled water cooling technology for both low and high density contained zones, has already achieved a more efficient Power Usage Effectiveness measurement of 1.6, representing a potential saving of £55,000 per annum and equivalent to 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Staffordshire turns off PCs to save money

An in-house development by Staffordshire County Council’s ICT department has saved the council over £40k a year by automatically enforcing PC shutdown at the end of the working day. Says developer, Peter Kear, “It’s a really simple concept of taking readily available utilities and writing a program around them.”  Kear is using PSShutdown (free for corporate use) to shut down computers that his solution has first identified as on but not in use. A summary report also tracks how many computers were left switched on when the programme is run, council-wide at 8pm every night. The next step is to send an automated email to all users that have left their computers switched on – reminding them to switch off before they leave next time.  ict@staffordshire.gov.uk

Brent donates PCs to Africa

Schools and hospitals in Africa are benefiting from over 500 PCs, laptops and monitors donated by the London Borough of Brent via Computer Aid International. By placing the specialist charity at the heart of its IT disposal strategy, the council is both enhancing its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme and ensuring that unwanted equipment is disposed of in accordance with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations. Computer Aid also guarantees 100 percent data removal from any hard disk, which meets all recognised international data destruction standards. Duncan McLeod, director of finance at Brent, says, “Donating is a simple process but one that can make a huge difference in developing countries. Using Computer Aid’s asset tracking service we can see the positive effect that our old equipment is having in poverty-reduction projects and actively communicate this to staff.”   www.computeraid.org

Birmingham recycles IT into community

Service Birmingham has launched a scheme to recycle up to 20,000 council computers as and when they are updated. The council’s computers will be disposed of in an environmentally friendly and secure manner. Where possible they will be recycled and refurbished for use in the local community for a nominal charge payable to the charities. “This new recycling initiative demonstrates the commitment by Service Birmingham to reduce the environmental impact of technology. We’re also delighted to be working with these local organisations that have such a positive impact on our community”, said Helen O’Dea, chief executive of Service Birmingham.

The way they work in Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire County Council is implementing a cross-county conferencing and collaboration solution from a&o which will use telephone and video conferencing and secure instant messaging to improve communication and productivity between 20,000 staff. The move forms part of the council’s ‘The Way We Work’ project, which aims to consolidate over 50 existing council offices to just three whilst creating a more flexible working environment.

Green print in Hartlepool

Hartlepool Council will save more than £100,000 each year thanks to its new Northgate Information Solutions ‘Managed Print Solution’ - which optimises the number of print and copy devices needed, thus allowing the council to manage its corporate print function centrally while returning both cost and efficiency saving.

Bournemouth winning with green

Bournemouth Borough Council is on track to represent the UK in the European Business Awards for the Environment. The council is among the major winners in the Green Apple Environment Awards – one of the few accredited feeder schemes into the international campaign. Said councillor Stephen MacLoughlin, Bournemouth leader, “As a council we are constantly striving to improve our recycling record and the partnership with M&S means we can provide enhanced services and send a strong environmental message to all those who live, work and visit Bournemouth.

Green monitoring in Merton

Merton Council is pioneering an innovative new scheme, in partnership with experts and students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Massachusetts, to measure how much renewable energy is produced across the borough. The monitoring system was unveiled at a national environment conference at Merton civic centre where delegates had the chance to see a demonstration of the web-based green energy database.

Raising awareness in Orkney

Orkney Islands Council has teamed up with the Orkney Renewable Energy Forum to raise awareness of the environmental impact of computer equipment. Councillor Ian Johnstone, chair of the information services subcommittee, said: “Computer technology can have positive effects on emissions if well-managed. It can facilitate flexible working, eliminate the need for some business travel and can help some business processes be more efficient. However it is clear that we should do what we can to reduce emissions due to computers; doing so will help the environment, and may also reduce the costs of owning equipment.”

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