In the UK companies covered by the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme have until 30th September to register or face fines.

With less than 50 days to go, less than 25% of companies affected have registered, but while general business awareness is low, new research has found that awareness within IT functions is almost non-existent. This will hamper organisations’ ability to deal with the CRC and deliver the reductions that will lead to lower energy bills and lower CO2 emissions.

In the UK companies covered by the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (previously known as the Carbon Reduction Commitment) have until 30th September to register with the Environment Agency, who is operating the scheme on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

With less 25% of companies affected having registered many thousands of firms are facing fines and other penalties. Currently the prevailing sense is one of apathy or ignorance regarding the existence of the CRC, let alone its impact.

In essence the CRC attempts to encourage greater energy efficiency by means of placing an additional cost on carbon emissions, requiring organisations to measure and report on these, and by use of league tables to show which organisations have performed better than others.

The impact on IT

How then, does all this affect IT? Very directly is the straightforward answer. In many service businesses and organisations the top 3 sources of power consumption are:

  • Heating/Cooling
  • Lighting
  • Plug Load (all power consumption via devices that are plugged in)

In most organisations Plug Load is predominantly IT related: PCs; monitors; printers; faxes; copiers; network equipment and servers. In addition IT makes a significant contribution to the requirements for cooling with many server rooms requiring up to 150% more power for cooling the heat generated by servers, than for actually running the servers.

It should be clear that any organisation looking to reduce both their power bills and their liabilities under the CRC scheme should be looking at their IT environments as a key part of their strategy. While general business awareness of the CRC scheme is low, knowledge of the scheme within IT departments and CIOs is almost zero. Tony Fisher, MD of Greenocity commented: “This lack of IT awareness is shocking. Organisations will miss vital opportunities to reduce their energy bills and CO2 emissions”.

Unless and until IT becomes an active participant in organisations’ energy efficiency strategies, these strategies will be operating with one hand tied behind their backs. It is therefore imperative that organisations ensure that:

  • Their IT functions understand the implications of the CRC scheme
  • IT has the responsibility for the Carbon Emissions it produces
  • Energy Efficiency becomes part of the overall IT strategy, along with availability, customer service etc.

With the nature of IT replacement cycles extending over a number of years, and the requirement for IT constantly increasing, organisations that bring their IT functions into their carbon reduction plans early will find that IT can start to contribute towards delivering the necessary reductions; those companies that do not involve IT will find that their IT functions may well be increasing the level of their emissions, simply through a lack of awareness and focus.

So what can IT actually do?

There are a number of approaches that IT can adopt, including PC power management which is an extremely cost effective and straightforward method of reducing power bills and carbon emissions for most organisations.

Other solutions are more involved and need to be considered within the overall IT strategy. Initiatives such as virtualisation, cloud computing, thin clients, data centre design and consolidation can all contribute to a more energy efficient IT environment as well as simplifying the IT administrative burden.

One of the unique aspects of this legislation is that for organisations that truly embrace the CRC scheme and its aims, it will lead directly to lower power bills, an improved bottom line and a greener environment.