Our 2013 post "Too Little Focus on Green ICT in American Higher Education" looked at a number of indicators, including a Sierra Club program.
Sierra Club's 2013 10 Coolest Schools' rating system gives "...a percentage of  available points based on the percentage of computers purchased that are registered EPEAT Silver or Gold." Also, "Institutions earn half of  available points by having a program to refurbish, reuse, or recycle electronic waste generated by the school. Institutions earn half of available points for having a similar program for electronic waste generated by students." Those two account for less than 3% of the 1000 points available, so it is not surprising the Sierra Club offers only one Green ICT citation as well: American University for its "quarterly e-waste drives."
Things have not improved three years later.
We've noted that there has been too little focus on Green ICT in American higher education. This does not mean that colleges and universities in American and around the global aren't making any progress at all - you can click on the 'education' tag above to see examples. We regularly add updates about global higher education in this post -- the latest looks at an American University's attempt to make an impact on student e-waste.
Businesses and individuals are advancing innovative ideas with potential for mainstream Green ICT. These range from products and services available today to futuristic concepts for tomorrow. The latest is modular electronics for devices and IoT.
A MarketsandMarkets report says, "The global volume of e-waste generated is expected to reach 93.5 million tons in 2016 from 41.5 million tons in 2011 at a CAGR of 17.6% from 2011 to 2016." Three strategies for dealing with an organization's aging ICT gear are scrap, external reuse, and internal reuse. Internal reuse offers a growing number of increasingly sophisticated options while external reuse is revealing some unintended consequences. Reuse options are growing for home devices, as well.
It is difficult to get reliable data on how long we hold onto the 19+ billion edge devices attached to the global ICT infrastructure. Diverse device types and cultural practices complicate the issue. So do changing purchase and lease plans.
"Were America's Millions of Analog TVs Recycled?" That's the question we began asking eight years ago as the United States converted from analog to digital television (DTV), obsoleting the traditional CRT-based sets. The answer now appears to be "no" due to consumer behavior and a declining market for CRT by-products. The image at the right, taken at a collection point for a university student housing change-over in August 2016, illustrates that there are still a lot of analog CRTs out there.
A competition between two locations in the western United States highlight two big sustainability issues for mega data centers - energy and water. Utah and New Mexico are both vying for a new Facebook "data warehouse".
We've been tracking the potential of "energy harvesting" to power devices without conventional batteries or grid connections since 2011. The latest market entrants demonstrate this segment continues to expand to meet the need son the Internet of Things (Iot).
Sol Chip's "Everlasting Solar Battery" "...integrates all the components required — in a single battery unit — to harvest and supply sustainable solar/light energy to low-power applications." Sol Chip was recognized as a 2016 Sustainia 100 solution. The Sustainia citation noted the potential impact on IoT e-waste "...by limiting the need to continuously replace batteries and reducing the associated costs and waste."
Intel's white paper Solar Power for PC Deployments: Enabling ICT Beyond the Grid is a clear and consise overview of how to calculate solar capacity for off-grid ICT. The methodology is illustrated with a case study about creating a solar-powered computer lab for a school in rural Bangladesh.
Researchers around the global are exploring innovative ways to sustainably recharge the billions of edge devices attached to the global ICT infrastructure. Experiments use everything from plants to urine . (You may have to reload page to display videos.)