From Green-IT to sustainable ICT

ICT plays an important role in the current days, it does not only change the way we work but also the way we live, organisations and individuals request more and more IT driven services, each day new e-applications appear and cloud computing (private or public) is present everywhere. To sustain this never ending demand, new ICT infrastructure comprising servers, storage systems, physical and wireless networks are developed.
This fast evolving change has a dual impact on the sustainability of our world. On one hand, ICT considerably helps to reduce the global environmental footprint of our society; for instance home working and teleconferencing solutions, e-commerce and e-government services clearly help in the diminishing of polluting travels. But, to operate these services, organisations more and more rely on new and powerful ICT infrastructures … that have negative environmental impacts. Huge quantities of energy are needed to feed the cloud and the datacenters; the networks and all the individual devices. Moreover, the conception of ICT equipment emits considerable CO2 equivalent emission, need precious and rare commodities and the end-of-life of these electronics equipment is far from green.
This has brought the issues of a greener and sustainable ICT to the attention of various entities including governments, NGOs, international standardization bodies, companies and individuals. The solution to this concern is commonly named Green-IT. Green-IT refers to environmentally sustainable computing. It is the study and practice of using computing resources with minimal or no impact on the environment. Green-IT strives for economic practicality and improved system performance while satisfying social and ethical responsibilities; it includes the dimensions of energy efficiency, sustainability, economics, and total cost of ownership (which includes the cost of disposals and recycling).
Green-IT is made of two interconnected domains, the greening OF IT and the greening BY IT. The greening OF IT refers to all actions taken by an organisation to make its IT more environmentally friendly by developing ecofriendly products, increasing the datacenter and IT infrastructure efficiency, reducing the paper consumption, introducing green criteria in the IT procurement and preparing for green project lifecycle and green software development. The greening BY IT refers to all IT projects and products allowing an organisation to reduce its global environmental footprint; like home working and smart work center policy, web based videoconferencing, electronic document management, e-services and applications.
It is sure that ICT has become unavoidable; making the role of Green-IT profiles pivotal to the success of green and sustainable initiatives by ensuring that the technology being used is « green » and power efficient, and by providing the IT tools and services needed to support organizations’ overall green investments. These Green-IT profiles must also help organisations in implementing a state of the art Green-IT governance in line with their corporate sustainable business development strategy.
Finally, new greening BY IT or ICT for sustainability profiles are emerging; they actively help to reach the ambitious 2020 European Commission energy target by participating in and promoting the most promising green-IT challenges like smart grids and smart cities projects and innovation 2.0 projects mixing ICT and sustainability.
So, let’s talk now about sustainable ICT profiles who will help organisations in a vital transformation from sustainable ICT to ICT for sustainability, open innovation and sustainable business models.


About the author:
Thierry Holoffe is Sustainable ICT Consultant of Green-ICT. Since 2009, he realizes Green-IT missions, gives public and onsite training and participates to events as speaker, focusing on Green-IT and sustainable business activities. He is a Green-IT Ambassador and endorser of the EU Code of Conduct for Datacenter.

Green and smart: ICT jobs for tomorrow

Data centres and other ICT infrastructures are increasingly vital for all sectors of the economy, and green growth strategies will require people capable of both greening ICT itself and helping ICT to make other activities greener. ICT skills and employment: New competences and jobs for a greener and smarter economy (the OECD report mentioned above) argues that promoting ICT skills in the green and smart economy pays a double dividend by encouraging job creation and accelerating the transition to green growth.
The jobs wouldn’t just be in the sector itself. Employment in the ICT industry and employment of ICT specialist skills each accounts for up to 5% of total employment in OECD countries, but ICT intensive-users account for more than 20% of all workers in all branches. A car mechanic I know told me that when he started working 30 years ago, the first thing you did when a car came in to the repair shop (apart from telling the client it was a big job and would be ready on Tuesday) was to get your hands dirty poking around the engine or jacking it up, whereas now you start by plugging it in to a computer. And hundreds of other jobs across the whole skills range now need knowledge of ICT as well.

Green ICT in Germany : 300.000 direct jobs per year

The building renovation programme for energy efficiency in Germany has already mobilised €100 billion in investments, reducing energy bills, avoiding carbon dioxide emissions and creating around 300,000 direct jobs per year, according to a new report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The drive for revamping Europe’s building stock has already had a profound impact on employment even if much remains to be done to fulfil the promise of green jobs, experts warn.
Speaking at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Leterme said the shift to green jobs will not happen without a related effort to adapt workers’ skills and training.
« Green skills appear to be hugely needed, » he said. « But there is no need to reinvent the wheel, » Leterme added. « Most of the green skills that new market entrants will require can be met through incremental enrichment of educational and training programmes. » Experts in the property management sector confirmed that the jobs market for green skills was still largely underdeveloped. “There is a lack of professionalism in Europe,” said Laura Lindberg, Public Relations Manager for global property professional body RICS. “It is extremely important…to take into consideration what we have – a lack of skills and professional training which needs to be better understood,” Lindberg added.
“There is interest out there, but I don’t think people are rushing for it, they are being cautious at this time. There is a trust issue,” said Martin Russel of RICS London.
He added, however, that on balance, the market in Europe for energy efficiency accreditation has been picking up and as long as there is enough demand there will also be an economic rationale for professionals to regain their appetite.

Where Can Green IT/IS Education and Training Be Found Today? An Initial Assessment of Sources

The push toward sustainability & “greening” in organizations is evident in the Federal government as well as within the private sector.  A more specific focus on “greening” information technology (IT) and information systems (IS) can also be seen. As might be expected, a corresponding increase in green jobs is also occurring with many of those jobs focused on IT.
The trouble with filling green jobs, IT or otherwise, is finding educated and qualified workers to fill them.  As a result, there is a growing demand for green computing education. As early research has indicated, however, the demand for green computing knowledge by those in industry is only slowly making its way to the academic world. A recent study by Sendall (2010) identified a surprising “lack” of green IT/IS/computing and/or sustainability curriculum initiatives in institutions of higher education.  With this knowledge as background, this research efforts attempts to identify, even so: Where can green computing education and/or training be found today?

What skills do you need for a Green ICT Job?

The new Green IT node project investigates the needed skills and competences for green ICT jobs. The project started in November 2011 and address the shortage of skilled professionals in the Green IT field. During the 24 months of the project, Green IT node  will analyse the market needs, the existing trainings available for the different components and competences, and define a professional standard in the participating European countries. 

Green IT node will develop European specialist profiles that are in compliance with the principles of the European metaframeworks EQF/e-CF and ECVET as well as guidelines for developing/setting-up further vocational training measures for Green ICT jobs. The expected impact will allow for comparable skills sets for these professions of the future which supports the European labour market and tus, the employability of professionals while at the same time contributing to one of the major challenges of Europe 2020.
Green IT node is funded by Lifelong Learning programme of the European Commission.

More information on the project
More information on eJobs in Europe