Australia's ICT sector generates as much carbon dioxide as the civil aviation or steel industries, according to an ICT carbon emissions audit commissioned by the Australian Computer Society (ACS).
ICT usage by Australian businesses, the audit found, equated to 7.94 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2005, or 1.52 percent of total national emissions.
The industry produces emits slightly less than steel production (2.3 percent of total emissions) and slightly more the civil aviation industry (0.97 percent), the audit found.
In response, the ACS advocates extending the Energy Star rating system that applies to whitegoods to ICT equipment.
"When upgrading or introducing new technology, organisations should discuss energy efficiency with vendors -- many vendors have released great technology products," the report stated.
The society also recommends that IT departments rationalise servers using virtualisation technology, opt for "sleep mode" rather than the use of screen savers on inactive workstations, and use energy saving soft-phones and thin-client desktops wherever appropriate.
It also asks ICT organisations to consider the purchase of carbon offsets to balance their contribution to the environment.
"For a typical Australian ICT SME employing 5 to 20 staff, this would cost between AU$144 and AU$576 per annum," the ACS report said.