Information Technology Services


Date of this Version


Document Type



Educause Review, Thursday, March 26, 2009.


© 2009 Wendell Brase and Mark Askren. This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 license.


Media coverage of sustainability and "green" issues is hard to ignore these days. But less clear is a specific understanding of what this agenda means within higher ed IT organizations. For starters, it's useful to self-assess whether your campus is a leading innovator on all things "green" or satisfied to remain inconspicuous in the middle of the pack. If your institution is trailing but wants to assert a leadership role in environmental stewardship, you need to get engaged to understand what it will take to catch up and how IT can be a leader, not just a contributor, to such an effort.

Although IT might not be the largest component in your institution's greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, it probably constitutes the fastest growing element in your carbon footprint.

IT leaders bring a lot of intellect to this challenge. For one thing, IT leaders understand scale, relevant because attaining carbon-neutrality is a massive problem that demands large-scale solutions. In addition, IT leaders bring to work every day an inherent drive to solve complex, multifaceted problems using technology. Again, a basic match! IT leaders like to bring facts, data, and expertise to bear on problems, exactly what is needed for climate solutions. So if you believe that your leadership only extends across IT operations, think more broadly. Of course, demonstrating tangible progress on the kind of two week, 3-6 month, and one-year carbon-reducing projects outlined above will be the first step in establishing your broader role as a climate solutions leader in your institution.