Providing a common definition and understanding which environmentally friendly IT practices make a real difference is the philosophy behind a green IT foundation qualification. BCS is also developing a practitioner level course aimed at those working with data centres, as Helen Wilcox reports.

'One of the problems with taking environmentally-friendly measures at the moment is that there is no formal reference material to define what green IT is - for example what is a carbon footprint, and is there any value in carbon offsetting?' said Jeff Payne, director of professional best practice for training provider QA.

BCS and QA are, therefore, working together to create a foundation certificate in green IT, which will provide a base education in environmentally friendly IT based on defined terms. BCS is also developing a new EU Code of Conduct for data centre operators practitioner qualification. They form part of BCS's ongoing development of a qualification programme for the arena, alongside its wider energy efficiency awareness initiatives.

BCS asked a panel of four experts to define the terms and help develop the syllabus. QA is now developing the courseware, which will be followed by independent accreditation of the course by BCS. The qualification will be launched late spring/ early summer.

Examples of areas covered by the qualification include how to balance flexible working requirements with shifting the burden of heating and lighting from one centralised office space to many less-efficient homes. Plus, whether increased use of virtualisation software enables reduction of hardware costs and office space.

The qualification is intended for a large and general IT audience. 'It's relevant for every person in IT concerned with systems who wishes to know how they can cost-effectively and efficiently meet green objectives,' said Payne.

Cost savings through energy efficiency are the main thrust of the Code of Conduct for the data centre operators practitioner qualification.

'Depending on whose calculations you use, and how energy intense their business is, a data centre can account for 25-50 per cent of the total ICT energy use in many companies,' said Liam Newcombe, secretary of the BCS Data Centre Specialist Group and co-author of the syllabus and examination for the new data centre qualification.

'Data centres are the obvious starting point for a BCS environmentally-aware practitioner qualification, as there are known inefficiencies in common design and practice which can be improved upon rapidly and substantially. This presents real savings because of the scale of energy use,' said Newcombe.

Practitioner level

The practitioner qualification will be based on understanding the goals, principles and how to implement the EU Data Centre Code of Conduct published by the EU Joint Research Commission last November.

The examination will last one hour after a three-day practitioner course. It can be taken as a stand-alone module, with no requirement to first take the foundation level, because it is specifically applicable to those involved with data centres. That is a large group in itself, ranging from the people managing software, through selecting IT equipment, mechanical and electrical plant managers, to those procuring data centre space or services.

'A major reason for the inefficiency in cost and energy in data centres is the division of skills and responsibility and the lack of effective communication between the multiple disciplines involved,' said Newcombe.

'The code covers all of these areas with an integrated approach, so the qualification will help all of those involved understand how what they do affects the total energy use of the data centre.

The bulk of the training will be based on the best practices from the Code of Conduct. The qualification will also explain the application process for the roles of both participant and endorser in the code and how to complete the application(s).

Newcombe and Zahl Limbuwala, chair of the BCS Data Centre specialist group, are currently writing the qualification curriculum and the examination, which will be verified by independent BCS assessors. Launch is planned for this summer.