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ICTs and Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a very important consideration for the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. Although ICTs contribute to around 2 to 2.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ICTs are also a part of the solution because they have the potential to assist in reducing emissions from other sectors of the economy. ITU is helping to promote energy efficiency by not only driving down emissions in the ICT sector, but also by assisting in reducing the carbon footprint of other sectors, for example by substituting travel with virtual meetings or using ICTs to reduce fuel consumption. ITU is therefore playing a leading role in ensuring that ICT-enabled solutions and methodologies are incorporated into the operations of several sectors and industries.

Framing the Issue: The Role of ICTs in Energy Efficiency

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ICTs and energy efficieny can be connected in two ways: ‘Greening of ICTs’ and ‘Greening through ICTs’. In the first case, ICTs are being transformed and developed to be more environmentally-sound and less carbon-intensive. In the second case, ICT-enabled solutions (for example smart grids, smart buildings, smart logistics and industrial processes) are helping to transform the world towards a more sustainable and energy efficient future. These green technologies and processes have the potential to play a significant role in significantly reducing global GHG emissions.

Click here to find out more about ICTs and Energy.

Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities (FG-SSC)



Today, cities account for over 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As that number grows and the effects of climate change worsen, our cities have to evolve to become more energy efficient. The FG-SSC is helping to identify the ICT systems necessary for such an evolution and acts as an open platform for smart-city stakeholders to exchange knowledge and identify the standardized frameworks needed to support the integration of ICT services in smart cities.

Click here for more information about FG-SSC.

Efficiency with Smart Grids

Energy Efficiency - Smart Grids Report Cover Art.jpgThe use of smart grids is one of the most effective ways for reducing GHG emissions. A new report commissioned by ITU's Standardization Section outlines how smart grids can help to mitigate climate change by building more controllable and efficient energy systems.

Click here for the full report.

Green Data Centres

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ITU's Standardization Section has developed recommendations (L.1300 and L.1310) that describe best practices aimed at reducing the negative impact of data centers on the climate. The application of these best practices can help owners and managers to build future data centers, or improve existing ones, to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. Increasing the energy efficiency of these systems is very important, especially because “Data centers [are] forecasted to surpass airlines in terms of CO2 emissions by 2020 due to energy consumed" (McKinsey and Co. 2008).

ITU and Standards Developing Organizations

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One of the goals of ITU is to develop international standards. For example, within ITU, ITU-T Study Group 5 has developed a set of standardized methodologies to assess the environmental impact of ICT in cooperation with ICT industry and other key stakeholders, such as ETSI, ISO, IEC, GeSI, GSMA, and the ICT for Energy Efficiency Forum (ICT4EE), among others.

Next Generation Networks Improve Energy Efficiency

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Next Generation Networks (NGNs) are seen by many as the new network architecture that will unify today’s fixed, mobile and broadcast networks. This innovative technology is expected to bring about greater energy efficiency than legacy networks. NGNs are expected to reduce energy consumption by 40 per cent compared to today’s public switched telephone network (PSTN). By improving the energy efficiency of ICTs, NGNs can potentially make a significant contribution in the battle against global warming.

ITU-T Study Group 13 is leading ITU's standardization work on next generation networks.