Earth Hour is an initiative sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund and others to raise awareness about global warming by asking individuals, municipalities, and businesses to turn off their lights for one hour (8:30PM local time, 28 Mar). Turning off our personal computers and e-devices appears to be a more complicated issue.
ICT facilities and event organizers alike can follow the lead of media industry organization Give A Glass. This is a "network of advertising agencies, production and post-production companies making a difference in our community and the world" whose members have declared that they "will no longer purchase individual, single-use plastic water bottles in the office from now on or on a specific shoot." ICT techies can apply this to those 'energy' drink bottles, too.
The transition to digital television (DTV) will likely generate hundreds of tons of e-waste in the form of stations' old analog transmission equipment. Disposal of this equipment was never accounted for in industry or government DTV planning. Most of the equipment is towards the end of life-cycle and pending DTV transitions in Mexico and Canada are drying up what remains of the North American resale market.
Vertatique raised the issue back in 2007 of increased home energy consumption and carbon emissions due to widespread deployment of digital-to-analog (DTA) converter boxes in 2009. Energy Star reports that "In the U.S. alone, depending on viewer behavior and product design, EPA estimates that conventional DTAs could consume more than 3 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) per year and cost Americans $270 million annually in additional electricity bills." New DTA models hold hope for improving the situation.
EU regulators continue to exempt medical devices from sustainable technology standards like RoHS and WEEE. 2012 now looks like the earliest the exemption will be lifted. But pressure on device manufacturers to address these issues is mounting through specific focus by associations like
The appointment of Steven Chu as U.S. Secretary of Energy holds special significance for for the green computing community. Cho is the former head of Lawerence Berkley National Labs. Under his leadership, LBNL became a leader in energy-efficient computing. A seminal 2007 report elevated worldwide awareness and was the basis for one of the first Vertatique posts.
Readers who have followed Vertatique since 2007 know that I find the photographs of and film about Edward Burtynsky make compelling arguments for getting a handle on our e-waste/cyberwaste stream. I was reminded of this by the reaction his story and work always receive when I talk about Green ICT.
The European Community has not exempted broadcast from its environmental regulations for electrical and electronic equipment like it has biomedical. Click here to learn about which media product vendors working to comply.
Businesses, government agencies, and non-profits who advocate green, sustainable, or environmentally responsible behavior are most credible when practicing what they preach. Cultural factors, including perceived entitlements, can be barriers. Here are some examples, courtesy of Computerworld, of organizations which used Green ICT tactics to align their internal behavior with their external message.
"Consumer electronics is the fastest-growing source of electricity use in people's homes," says the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "It's now up to 15 or 20 percent." Video game consoles are the latest devices to come under energy use scrutiny. "Today, more than 40 percent of all homes in the United States contain at least one video game console . . .they consumed an estimated 16 billion kilowatt-hours per year -- roughly equal to the annual electricity use of the city of San Diego. Through the incorporation of more user-friendly power management features, we could save approximately 11 billion kWh of electricity per year, cut our nation's electricity bill by more than $1 billion per year, and avoid emissions of more than 7 million tons of CO2 each year." Until the industry steps improves its devices' power management, "gamers can significantly reduce the energy consumed by their consoles through simple steps like turning off the console when not actively playing a game or watching a movie and enabling power management features when available." Visit the NRDC's consoles page to read the comprehensive report, Lowering the Cost of Play by Noah Horowitz, and to learn how to enable power management features on existing consoles.
[Thank you to NRDC's Anthony Clark for providing graph.]