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Paul Homan recently commented on Green EA which set my mind thinking ... 'being more Green' is a strategic ambition and what is the process and practice for generating strategic change? Enterprise Architecture! When EA's are struggling to find some ROI reason to justify their existence in the economic down-turn amazingly one of the main ROI reasons is one of the biggest issues of our time as the 'Return' doesn't literally mean monetary and also doesn't necessarily mean more? ... it can also mean less, as in less carbon release, less waste produced and less energy used.

Often companies are looking for quick, hand-to-mouth change to make an immediate impact but often these changes are to radical or not radical enough, either way will need draconian measures to keep them in effect. Good strategic change happens in steps and not sweeps.

imageA good example is the profile of electricity consumption throughout the day. As you can see from the graph of total electricity generated in the UK in MW over half hour periods taken from today's Elexon's BMReports website yesterdays power consumption profile is similar to today's. 

Much of the electricity is generated by coal and gas power-stations, by reducing the amount of electricity generated by these power-stations is the goal.

The two pronged attack is,

1) Reduce the overall demand for electricity

2) Replace whole or inpart the electricity generated by coal and gas power-stations with generation methods that do not give off large amounts of green-house gases.

I should say that many would like to take this go a step further and use generation methods than have little environmental impact such as wind, wave, solar and thermal to name but a few. I personally love this but am aware that to get here a lot more research and investment from everyone is required.

Whilst I'm on the subject we may as well talk about nuclear. Here in the UK we have had a good safety record with nuclear mainly due to the very British safety obsessive attitude brought about by culture. Nuclear cannot ramp up or ramp down in energy production as fast as coal or gas so is used for the large volume sustained underlying amounts of energy which is called the Base-load. The idea in the UK is to reduce the amount of Base-load produced by Gas and Coal and replace it with nuclear.

My very personal view is that I am happy about this as long as nuclear itself is a medium term answer and will itself be replaced by other forms when they are suitably advanced enough and man enough for the job. So whether you believe in global warming or not it does make common sense to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to improve air-quality and it does make sense to reduce the amount of electricity we consume. These are noble ambitions no matter your political stance.

Anyway we haven't strayed away from the point, just merely demonstrated it. Good strategy comes from providing goals and coming up with board solutions which launches initiatives, then programmes of work, then projects. All the time testing whether things are right and have the strength to stop them when they are wrong, even testing whether the strategy is right. However the basic misnomer is that strategy is a plan.

So can you imagine the chaos if the Government decided to solve the problem by rationing electricity? Ok so this wouldn't happen because Government understands the criticality and how much is dependent on electricity, the steer is that it is obvious how much electricity is relied upon. We as Enterprise Architects could learn many lessons then successfully communicate them about what is the critically of things purely by understanding what is dependent on them.

The challenge is that Enterprise Architects really do need to become the green champions of our organisations by understanding what is consumed and wasted, then working with the business to decided on goals then formulate strategies and place in measures and governance to ensure these strategies and tested and the goals met. We are after all ideally placed to take on this responsibility so we shouldn't hide from it.

So here is my challenge to all Architects that have blogs, write about going green as we need to spread the message that solving these problems is everyone's responsibility.

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Posted on Thursday, July 24, 2008 11:33 AM Technical Architecture , Enterprise Architecture | Back to top

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