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Zero Carbon Buildings Will Put Pressure On IT

A Westminster summit has suggested the looming zero carbon commercial targets will expose IT operations to more pressures

Politicians and technologists alike have warned that zero-carbon targets for commercial buildings will expose the high energy demands of IT, as well as the costs of running computers, networks and printers.

All new non-domestic buildings should be zero carbon by 2019, according to a target set by government in March, but the pressure on IT has yet to be fully realised, according to a roundtable on sustainable buildings hosted by Alan Whitehead MP.

This target was restated more recently in a Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) consultation paper, published last month, which re-confirmed its goal of radically transforming the way commercial buildings are planned, designed, constructed and maintained.

Whitehead called on the IT community to understand the implications of the 2019 target on non-domestic buildings: “As new, passive energy buildings are occupied, the energy consumption associated with IT will stand out like a sore thumb because other areas will be so much more energy efficient.”

David Angwin, a roundtable attendee and Wyse Technology sustainability spokesperson said the debate over mitigating the problem of IT energy consumption should now be moved onto one where IT can be ” seen as an enabler for design innovations that can drive the zero carbon building movement”.

He said low-carbon IT infrastructures were already paving the way for the construction of more sustainable buildings. But he added: “It is true that organisations are going to need to transition to new sustainable IT much faster than they have adopted previous new waves of information technology.”

As well as looking to new and legacy technology to influence more carbon-neutral construction, Martin Townsend, director of the
BRE Global Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) also said making older buildings more energy efficient too should not be overlooked.

“Facilities managers need to make sure they’re making the right decisions from the building level to the component, from management of the asset to the organisation policy,” Townsend said. “Critical for achieving such goals will be both the sharing of best practise as well as clear benchmarking. “

Low-carbon technologies like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) held the potential of also educating end users about the green potential IT offers, as well as contributing to power consumption reductions.

Christopher Venning, Royal College of Physicians IT services and networking manager was on hand to explain the benefits of implementing a low-carbon IT infrastructure that includes VDI and Wyse thin clients, and said that user education was key to the successful rollout of the new desktop systems.