Computer Science
Green Information and Communications Technology Strategies


Computer Science
Green Information and Communications Technology Strategies

Unit 1: Politics, Science, and Business of Sustainability

Seminar: Enabling ICT

We will revisit the SMART 2020 principles introduced in Section 1.2 and see how they enable efficiency. ICT systems can reduce energy and materials use by improving

  • the efficiency of business systems by replacing the movement of goods with information (dematerialization).
  • the efficiency of machines (smart motor systems), logistics, buildings, and grids.


Dematerialization substitutes low-carbon alternatives for high-carbon products and services. Typical examples are replacing travelling to meetings with teleworking via computer and videoconferencing. Paper invoices can be replaced with electronic ones, reducing the use of paper and the energy needed to transport the paper.

However, it cannot be assumed that applying ICTs will necessarily result in a smaller energy use or that users will use the systems as expected. A server for e-commence may use more energy than the paper it replaces. Teleworking may stimulate more face-to-face meetings for participants, rather than displace them.

SMART Motor Systems

Electric motors used in industry contribute a significant proportion of carbon emissions. Computer controlled variable-speed drives (VSD) can be used to match the power provided by the motor to the requirements of the task, thus saving energy and reducing emissions.

SMART Logistics

Logistics is the study of the management of the flow of goods from the point of production to consumption. ICT systems were adopted early on in the area of logistics. New techniques use radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to individually track items of inventory, geographic information systems (GIS) to plan deliveries, and global positioning systems (GPS) for real-time fleet tracking.

SMART Buildings

Building automation systems (BAS) use a network of sensors to monitor conditions in a building and adjust the mechanical and lighting systems to minimize energy use using techniques such as occupancy-based lighting and demand-control ventilation. The term smart buildings is used more broadly to cover the design and construction of buildings using ICT. Such design can use modelling and simulating energy consumption via simulation software. Buildings can also be equipped with technology to allow collaboration with remote workers, minimizing the need for meeting rooms.


Smart grids use ICT to control the delivery of electricity from suppliers to consumers, to minimize energy loss and cost. ICT can be used to optimize the use of existing distribution and long distance transmission grids for distributing energy from existing large plants and for producing alternative energy from small local solar, wind, and cogeneration plants. Smart meters allow consumers to adjust their energy use depending on cost, thereby encouraging them to reduce overall energy use.

SMART 2020

Please read the following chapters from SMART 2020: Enabling the Low Carbon Economy in the Information Ageby The Climate Group, June 2008. (A summary of this document is provided in the Section 1.2 seminar).

  • Chapter 3 : The Enabling Effect (read before you complete the Section 1.3 Self-test Quiz)
  • Chapter 4: The SMART 2020 Transformation (read to consolidate what you have learned in Unit 1)


To wrap up this unit,  to the Australian Government Department of the Environment Climate Change page. Examine the  Latest News sections on the right of the page, as well as the Topics section on the left. Find any articles that you can generally relate to green ICT. If your home country is not Australia, try to find similar resources on your home country government website. Share your findings in the General Discussion Forum. Be sure to list and cite sources using either APA or the IEEE style.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 June 2014, 4:53 PM MDT
Skip Navigation