available to help businesses to monitor theirenvironmental impact and operate more sustainably,from carbon accounting solutions through toautomation technologies that replace manual, paper-based practices with less wasteful electronic processes.However, the environmental value of these applicationsis still not fully recognised by many businesses. Thisleaves IT providers, together with software bodies suchas the Business Application Software DevelopersAssociation (BASDA), with the task of trying to convinceorganisations that implementing the right applicationsis crucial to sustainable working. In addition to software vendors' own solutions, BASDAis in the process of rolling-out Green XML, a dataexchange standard that supports organisationsworldwide in collecting, exchanging and reporting onenvironmental impacts. It is hoped that this willbecome an industry standard to help businesses tocommunicate (in a common software language) thecarbon footprint and embedded water of all purchases.BASDA Green XML also provides the structure for fullenvironmental reporting, giving software vendors ahead start for the future. Ultimately, Green XML willassist businesses with sustainable purchasing whilstsending "green" ripples throughout the supply chain. BASDA launched Green XML at the Global Business ofBiodiversity event in July 2010 and already a numberof software developers are incorporating the technologyinto their existing software solutions. One softwarecompany has incorporated Green XML into itselectronic marketplace. Used by over 400 academicinstitutions and many public sector organisations, thismarketplace offers users a way of reviewing the carbonfootprint of a purchased item at the checkout and thendeciding if they wish to offset the transaction.Suppliers to the marketplace can also choose to haveall sales automatically offset. The introduction of Green XML means that, as well asthere being a range of distinct green softwareapplications on the market, there could soon be acommon industry software platform that provides asolid foundation for a green economy. This, of course,is excellent news. However, rolling out such technologyis not a small feat and, once again, the challenge is toconvince organisations of the benefits of implementingGreen XML to transact with customers and suppliers.THE CHICKEN AND EGG SCENARIOAt present, there is what can only be described as a"chicken and egg" scenario. The software industry hasalready developed a number of applications to enablea green economy. However, those suppliers that deliversolutions which provide pure environmental benefitsare currently seeing low market demand, which isperhaps unsurprising in view of the current economicclimate. This market situation is not encouragingINNOVATION TECHNOLOGY063?
software companies to invest in the ongoingdevelopment and marketing of green applications. On the flipside, for organisations to invest in greenapplications such as Green XML, they need to beconvinced that they would be able to effectivelytransact with other businesses via the same (or asimilar) software platform. If a company invests inGreen XML but none of its customers and suppliersuse this type of technology, it is technologicallyisolating. The widespread use of green applications istherefore key for businesses to properly recognise thevalue of investing in such software systems.The only viable solution to this deadlock is for theGovernment to create the right environment for greenapplications to flourish. Without resolute Governmentaction, the software industry will only ever be able totiptoe around the green applications market andbusinesses will be without the vital softwareinfrastructure needed to support sustainable workingand, ultimately, a strong green economy.CREATING THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT FOR GREENAPPLICATIONS TO FLOURISHAn environment needs to be created which givessoftware vendors the confidence to invest in theongoing development and marketing of greenapplications and which, at the same time, givesorganisations a compelling reason to purchase theseapplications. Therefore, supply and demand needs tobe addressed in parallel.Although the Government is addressing the issue ofsustainability, there is an overall lack of enforcement,with the Government favouring sustainabilityrecommendations and guidelines rather thanmandates. This is making it extremely difficult for theUK to create a green economy (supported by a greensoftware infrastructure) and the creation of such aneconomy is vital if the statutory emissions target, as laiddown by The Climate Change Act 2008, is to be met. The introduction of "Greening Government ICT" hasbeen a positive step forward, delivering a roadmap ofhow Government bodies and other public sectororganisations can reduce the carbon footprint of theirinformation and communication technologies. Theoutcome has been encouraging, reducing carbonemissions by over 12,000 tonnes in the first year.However, as Greening Government ICT is more of a strategy document and is only applicable to thepublic sector, it has failed to deliver a powerful driverfor change. It appears that the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme isthe only truly enforceable Government measure thathas been introduced, requiring (certain) organisationsINNOVATION 064TECHNOLOGYBelow:Dean Dickinson(left) and Jairo Rojas(right) to monitor and report on their carbon emissions fromelectricity, gas and static fuel consumption with a viewto bringing about reductions. The fact that this schemeis compulsory is an encouraging sign. However, it onlyaffects the 20,000 largest organisations in the UK,which is a small drop in the ocean.PRACTICAL STEPS TOWARDS A GREEN ECONOMYA vital step forward is for Government to introducemandatory sustainability regulations for all types oforganisation (apart from the very small) which enforceenvironmental measurement and reporting in additionto year-on-year reductions of CO2 and (in time)embedded water. If the majority of UK organisationsare forced to review the sustainability of theirbusinesses and report on their environmental impact,this will create the foundation for a green economy.These mandates should also be coupled with clear