UCISA have just announced that bookings are now open for the Managers Forum on “Green IT: Meeting the environmental challenge“.  This event will be held at Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel on 1st May 2007.

The details of the event are given below:

With the prospect of climate change, environmental issues have moved to the top of the agenda for both the commercial and public sectors. Politicians have been making statements about offsetting emissions and companies from all sectors are now talking about their social responsibility. Higher and further education institutions have been impacted by higher fuel costs and the introduction of legislation on waste disposal. Institutions have sought to demonstrate that they are becoming ‘greener’ through introducing new policies and procedures.


The green agenda impacts IT service departments in many ways as owners of large volumes of recyclable equipment and as providers of support to staff and students. This forum will discuss the issues involved in meeting the environmental challenge and look at the way some institutions have tackled them.

But what does the environmental challenge mean for the IT and Web development communities?  One thing I would suggest that we can do is to provide and encourage use of ‘just-in-case’ communication technologies.  An example of this took place in November when I was a co-facilitator for an Accessibility Summit held at the HE Academy in York.  One participant (Jane Seale) rang to say that she’d had problems will the trains and wouldn’t be able to make it from Southampton in time for the meeting.  I discovered that Jane was a Skype user – and we had a very successful meeting with Jane participating remotely.  A good example of just-in-time accessibility for a meeting about accessibility issues.


I have also  been making use of collaborative technologies  at conferences,  with the Access Grid being used  at the IWMW 2006  event (as well as a small-scale experiment in web-casting some of the plenary talks).


And when planning events I have also encouraged institutions to provide richer information about the facilities they provide – it would be useful, for example, to have 3D visualisations of lecture rooms and breakout rooms when planning an event, and if that could be done without having to physically visit the facilities, that can be an environmental benefit.


These have been experiments, exploring the potential of the technologies, whilst being mindful of possible limitations (are they distracting for other participants; will speakers feel more inhibited and less open as they become conscious of a remote audience; how robust are the technologies; etc.)


But will an increasing awareness of the importance of environmental issues overcome such reservations?  And what other approaches can Web users and developers be taking to rise to the environmental challenge?