Local Authorities Clueless About PC Energy Consumption


FOI request reveals that majority of London local authorities are entirely unaware of their IT power usage

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request from IT services provider Streamwire has revealed the majority of local authorities in London have no clue about the energy consumption of their PC infrastructure.

The finding comes at a time when local authorities are facing tough financial pressure, and demonstrates a worrying lack of understanding of how reducing energy consumption can reduce council expenditure.

Energy Efficiency

Streamwire approached 32 boroughs in London and discovered that only seven local authorities were able to accurately calculate the power consumption of their desktop computers. Eighteen local authorities were unable to accurately calculate PC power consumption, and seven failed to reply at all.

Streamwire points out that the findings cast doubt on whether many local authorities are doing enough to reduce their energy use – and thereby their expenditure.

greenpower2“Energy efficiency should be a major plank in any IT strategy as it is a significant contributor to the cost of operations,” explained Kevin Timms, COO and co-founder of Streamwire. “It is also important that the government has its own house in order as it encourages all of us to use less energy and become more environmentally conscious.”

The FOI request saw all London Boroughs questioned about the power consumption of their desktop computers and whether they had clearly defined strategies in place to reduce their IT-related energy consumption.

But depressingly, it seems that energy efficiency is low down on London local authorities list of priorities.

“Beyond the fact that most councils do not even have the tools in place to understand current power consumption, energy efficiency appears to be a by-product of adopting new technology rather than by looking at it as an objective in its own right,” said Timms.

“A further concern is the number of responses that suggested that local authorities’ strategies start and finish with asking their staff to switch their computers off at night,” said Timms. “This is quite rudimentary and there are many ways that energy efficiency can be ramped up.”

Switch It Off

There is little doubt that PCs and servers account for a large portion of information technology emissions, yet much of their power consumption is wasted. The majority of corporate computers for example are left switched on at weekends and as many as 80 percent are left on overnight so IT departments can apply patches during that time.

“Energy efficiency needs to focus around the employee and how they operate,” said treamwire’s Timms. “The devices they use, where they work, the buildings that they operate in all come into play. IT is a major aspect to achieving better energy efficiency and should be a higher priority across local government.”

Last year a startup in the US revealed how its thermal-imaging equipped cars could detect energy leaks on mass. This meant that local authorities could for example carry out a bulk energy audit of all the homes and buildings in an entire neighbourhood.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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