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Sustainable information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives in UK and Irish universities and colleges: Identifying and overcoming the barriers to implementation

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posted on 2023-08-30, 15:22 authored by Nicola M. Hogan
Energy is one of the UK’s biggest commercial and environmental concerns. Despite government campaigns for everyone to play their part in minimising energy consumption, reports suggest an estimated 20–30% of energy generated is wasted. UK and Irish universities and colleges are no exception to this wastage. In an attempt to reduce CO2 emissions created by the extensive use of ICT equipment, JISC launched their Greening of ICT programme in 2009. The programme aimed at reducing ICT energy use in UK FHEs and its outcomes indicated that using fewer, more energy-efficient ICT resources, as infrequently as is practicable, is the optimal way of tackling energy waste. Two projects that did this were The Scotland Carbon and Energy Management Project and The UK SUSTE-TECH Project. This research bridges the gap in knowledge, (identifying the barriers to FHE institutions implementing sustainable ICT initiatives) and, over the course of three consecutive stages, employed positivistic and anti-positivistic paradigms, utilised inductive, abductive and deductive methodologies and employed comparative, correlative and evaluative research methods. Data were gathered using surveys and questionnaires. Seven barriers to sustainability were identified, with three of them (stakeholder engagement, lacking managers and cuts in funding) being widespread. Each of the barriers existed to various extents and most underpinned one another. However, overcoming the barriers is possible via the use of a smartphone web app named the Energy Detective web app. These findings validate this research’s theory and ultimately answers the research question and its sub-questions. This research demonstrates that, according to various FHE managers, the same barriers to sustainability exist in UK and Irish FHEs regardless of geographical location. However, through sufficient engagement with stakeholders, they can be overcome. A solution to the gap in knowledge was found but not without difficulty. Recommendations for the continuation of this research have been made.



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