Microsoft has announced plans to spend $5.5 million to build a zero-carbon data center pilot project in Wyoming. A source of very low carbon electricity is key to such projects. Microsoft's power generation fuel? Municipal sewage!
Two Green ICT threads have converged in the natural disasters of Japan's earthquake/tsunami and America's hurricane Sandy. One is how energy-efficient gear, infrastructures, and practices can contribute to more sustainable ICT. The other is how efficient ICT can combine with renewable energy sources to deliver education, medicine, and other basic services to areas with little or no dependable electricity. From this converge comes a vision of sustainable ICT with is both efficient and resilient.
There are many examples of where a focus on equipment utilization can be more sustainable than other green ICT tactics. Here are some examples.
Google offers frequent updates on its Green ICT progress. Here is the most recent, along with past updates.
Photos, inside and out, of Google's data centers. Note that most locations include a reference to some green initiative.
This has not been detailed on Google's useful blog, but Grist reports that "Google’s new $700 million data centers in Taiwan will make ice at night, when electricity is significantly cheaper, and use it to cool the buildings during the day."
Google announced in January 2012, "All of our U.S. owned and operated data centers have received ISO 14001…certification. We’re the first major Internet services company to gain external certification for those high standards at all of our U.S. data centers." Here are some of the specifics.
A Microsoft/Accenture/WSP report compared three applications used in-cloud and on-premises. A Google report takes a similar look at Google Apps. Both claim CO2e reductions ranging above 80%. Pike Research says the move to cloud computing will decrease overall data center GHG emissions by 28%. The most recent report, a WSP/NRDC study, reinforces these themes but offers balancing perspectives.
It is easier to avoid controversy in the first place than extract oneself once one has invited it. Apple is finding that its decision to pull out of EPEAT, as described below, continues to dog the company even though Apple had quickly reversed that stance.
We're most of the way through 2012 and Green ICT has been a topic of conversation for years. Best practices have been developed, standards put into place, conferences held monthly around the world. So why do recent surveys of ICT operators suggest that few are paying attention to the full suite of Green ICT possibilities?
PUE - Power Utilization Effectiveness - is a common measure of energy efficiency for ICT facilities. We have often cited it in our articles, but we are mindful that efficiency does not necessarily lead to sustainability. Here are some areas where PUE can fall short.
Our e-gear contains many exotic materials. We've looked a how the demand for some - "conflict minerals" - fuels bloody, long-term warfare. The mining of others pollutes local communities. The rare earth neodymium, used in everything from smartphone speakers to datacenter disk drives, is a case in point.