The Natural Edge Project The Natural Advantage of Nations Whole System Design Factor 5 Cents and Sustainability Higher Education and Sustainable Development

"The Sustainable IT Lecture Series is suitable for use in tertiary education for ICT practitioners, engineering and related disciplines. The lecture notes would also be useful for self study by practitioners interested in learning about energy saving techniques. TNEP and HP are to be commended for making the material available free for educational use via an open access licence. TNEP have provided the opportunity for Australia to lead the world in reducing the impact of ICT on climate change. It is now for ICT educators and practitioners to take up the challenge."
Tom Worthington, Chair of the ACS Green ICT Group, and Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University


"I found the Lecture Series very comprehensive, well presented and thoroughly researched. So a big well done with the effort that has gone into developing the course material."
Scott Evans, IT Consultant, Pitcher Partners Consulting and Subcommittee Member of the AIIA Sustainable Futures Forum

The Engineering Sustainable Solutions Program

Sustainable IT Lecture Series


Funding for the development of the publication 'Sustainable IT: Reducing Carbon Footprint and Materials Waste in the IT Environment' has been provided by Hewlett-Packard (HP) Australia.


Sustainable IT: Reducing Carbon Footprint and Materials Waste in the IT Environment

Sustainable IT, also known as Green IT, is a multi-component approach to establishing and sustainably operating an IT business function. Sustainable IT is becoming increasingly important in the eyes of many organisations. A survey[1] of organisations of all sizes across both the government and corporate sectors found that 80 percent of IT decision makers believe that implementing Sustainable IT in their organisations is important and 49 percent cite positive reputation as one of the greatest benefits. However, 51 percent of IT decision makers cite cost as a barrier to implementing Sustainable IT technologies, 25 percent cite complexity of implementation and maintenance, and 21 percent cite potential disruptions to current IT systems.

This Lectures Series offers a solution that addresses many barriers to Sustainable IT while optimising costs and minimising negative environmental impact. The focus is on the product and service provision components of Sustainable IT. Specifically, these lectures describe a holistic, end-to-end solution for IT systems of medium and large enterprises. This solution consists of:

  • Product service systems: also known as sustainable services and systems and eco-efficient services.[2] There are several product service systems topologies. These Lectures describe the use services topology[3] as applied to IT products and services. In this topology, customers purchase the services of some or all IT hardware and software products through leasing, renting, sharing or pooling while the vendor maintains the ownership, responsibility and stewardship of the products. The aims are to remove aged technology with minimal environmental impact while customers maximise their investment on their IT systems. Vendors can be either an external company or the customer’s IT business function, operating largely independently.

  • Sustainable IT products: i.e. those items of client and data centre equipment that are resource efficient to manufacture, transport and operate, and have low-to-no adverse health impacts on people and the environment throughout their lifecycles.

These lectures draw from information regarding product service systems and sustainable IT products. They also draw from information regarding the development and implementation of several previously and currently popular IT service models that are relevant to successful product service systems, including: IT service management (ITSM),[4] also known as service-oriented IT management (SOITM); service-oriented architecture (SOA),[5] also known as service-oriented computing (SOC); and IT leasing.[6]

Since an IT system is a large and heavily integrated system with many components, a change in any component of the system will impact on several other components. Thus, it is important that decisions are informed by an accurate understanding and assessment of the impacts on the whole IT system. Hence, readers may be interested in learning about the business components of Sustainable IT, which are beyond the scope of these lectures. The business components are particularly relevant to decision makers in enterprises and include:

  • IT business function governance: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), sustainability Capability Maturity Model (CMM), change management, supply chain management.

  • IT business function management: revenue, cost minimisation, asset utilisation, risk minimisation.

  • Environmental management systems: ISO 14000 family, Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).

  • Resource audits: energy and waste.

  • Developing projects: scoping, goals, objectives and targets.

  • Measurement: Balanced Scorecard, key performance indicator (KPI), metrics, lifecycle analysis (LCA).

  • Reporting: Triple Bottom Line (TBL), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), carbon footprint.

  • IT industry maturity and trends: emerging technologies, regulations, Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), carbon offsets.


Sustainable IT: Reducing Carbon Footprint and Materials Waste in the IT Environment

The aim of this lecture is to discuss the drivers and benefits of Sustainable IT, particularly for the customer. Drivers and benefits range through business, economic, environmental and legislative domains.

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The aim of this lecture is to discuss product service systems, their barriers and lessons from past implementations, as well as the opportunities to reduce energy and materials consumption in packaging and equipment through end-of-life processing.

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The aim of this lecture is to discuss a four-step process for reducing energy consumption, materials consumption and materials toxicity in client equipment.

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The aim of this lecture is to discuss a seven-step process for reducing energy consumption in data centres and to present a Sustainable IT case study of IT vendor HP.

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The aim of this lecture is to discuss the strategies, activities and actions upon which customers and vendors should focus in order to successfully transition to, maintain and promote their Sustainable IT solutions at the organisation and industry level.

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This document contains the full citations for the references in the Lecture documents.

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Text Book: In the preparation of any education program, and in particular an introductory course, it is a challenge to cover all possible questions or uncertainties that may arise during delivery of the material. In response to this challenge, this course is supported by the text book developed by our team, namely 'Hargroves, K. and Smith, M.H. (2005) The Natural Advantage of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century, Earthscan, London'. References and optional reading material is provided for each lecture for those who wish to explore the content in more detail.


The Sustainable IT Lecture Series was produced by The Natural Edge Project using funds provided by Hewlett-Packard (HP) Australia. The development of this publication has been supported by the contribution of non-staff related on-costs and administrative support by the Centre for Environment and Systems Research (CESR) at Griffith University, under the supervision of Professor Bofu Yu, and both the Fenner School of Environment and Society and Engineering Department at the Australian National University, under the supervision of Professor Stephen Dovers.


Expert review and mentoring: Expert review and mentoring for the Sustainable IT Lecture Series has been received from Mike Dennis, The Australian National University; Scott Evans, Pitcher Partners Consultants and the Australian Information Industry Association; Bruce Scott, Griffith University; Chenobu Thong, Hewlett-Packard Australia; Michael Wagner, Hewlett-Packard Australia; Malcolm Wolski, Griffith University; and Tom Worthington, The Australian National University and the Australian Computer Society.

Citation: Stasinopoulos, P., Hargroves, K., Smith, M., Desha, C. and Hargroves, S. (2008) Sustainable IT: Reducing Carbon Footprint and Materials Waste in the IT Environment, The Natural Edge Project (TNEP), Australia.



[1] CDW (2008) Four out of Five IT Decision Makers Value Green IT, CDW. Available at Accessed 3 August 2008. (Back)

[2] Centre for Sustainable Design website – Sustainable Service Systems (3S): Transition Towards Sustainability? at Accessed 30 July 2008; Heiskanen, E. and Jalas, M. (2003) ‘Can services lead to radical eco-efficiency improvements - A review of the debate and evidence’, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, no. 10, pp. 186-198. (Back)

[3] Hockerts, K. (1999) and Schrader, U. (1999) cited in Centre for Sustainable Design website – Sustainable Service Systems (3S): Transition Towards Sustainability? at Accessed 30 July 2008. (Back)

[4] In ITSM, vendors help customers manage their IT resources, usually through a framework for IT activities. ITSM can be more effective through a vendor since many customers lack the expertise to manage large, complex IT systems. (Back)

[5] SOA is a software architecture in which software services are accessible to customers over a network, usually the Internet, while being hosted externally. Customers specify the software services required and vendors make them available. (Back)

[6] In IT leasing, customers lease IT products from vendors. The vendors maintain ownership and responsibility of the products. (Back)



The Natural Edge Project Engineering Sustainable Solutions
Program is supported by the Australian National Commission
for UNESCO through the International Relations Grants
Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.