Green ICT and sustainability

The issue of sustainability is integral to almost all current societal debates. As regards education and research institutions, the objective of sustainability will require – at minimum – compliance with national targets and voluntary agreements with the government.

Working together to develop sustainable ICT innovations

Many higher education institutions are taking things a step further, and wish to actively contribute by leading the field in terms of sustainability. SURF helps these institutions implement sustainable ICT innovations. SURF also stimulates mutual cooperation between universities of applied sciences, research universities and research institutions seeking to improve sustainability. 

The SURF Green ICT Maturity Model (SGIMM) enables higher education institutions to quickly and independently gain insights into the role ICT has in greening the own organisation.

ICT in sustainability policy

Most institutions have implemented a sustainability policy. Until recently, however, most of these policies scarcely focused on the role of ICT. This despite the fact that ICT is responsible for over 20 percent of all electricity consumption in the higher education sector, a figure set to rise further still in years to come. 

Greening of and through ICT

ICT is thus a key factor in the effort to reduce institutions’ energy consumption. In addition to greening existing ICT facilities, this will require the application of ICT as an enabling factor in the further greening of education, research and overall operations: greening through ICT. 

Green ICT and Sustainable Development pilot programme

In 2010, SURF launched its Green ICT and Sustainable Development pilot programme in an effort to: 

  • stimulate and promote the sustainability of ICT solutions and sustainability through the application of ICT
  • reduce the costs of ICT related energy consumption

The resulting experiences have sparked various projects and activities within a wide range of themes. The focus is on achieving quick wins in order to contribute to MJA-3-agreements (in Dutch) on energy efficiency in the short term. 

SURF prioritises sustainable ICT

Sustainable ICT is one of the priority areas formulated in SURF’s Strategic Plan 2011-2014. In addition to greater energy efficiency and the reduction of ICT-based CO2 emissions, the objective is to use ICT to reduce CO2 emissions from education and research activities and general operations.

Activities in this field

CO2 footprint

SURFnet wants to account for its energy consumption in a way that it can compare itself to other National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Europe. To that end, an assessment is held annually to account for the Green House Gas (GHG) emission.

E-waste policy

SURFnet considers it important to dispose of its obsolete equipment in a controlled manner. For SURFnet this is an important step to prevent equipment ending up on landfills or that private information can still be found on old data carriers (amongst others).

Read SURFnet's e-waste policy (pdf)