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Using Green IT to Practice What We Preach

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.

Gaming consoles next target for improved energy consumption?

"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.]

Quantifying the Benefits of Teleconferencing and Telecommuting

Cable media company Discovery Communications LLC " has encouraged workers to telecommute and teleconference . . . 'Thirty percent of the staff telecommutes at least one day a week,' says [CIO Dave] Kline. In 2004, Discovery installed teleconferencing systems to cut down on business travel. 'Teleconferencing has a huge ROI for us because

Speed, Power, and Heat

Two charts published by tech site Tom's Hardware show that processor performance appears stuck below 4 GHz, while energy consumption has plateaued at 130W. Is the solution to more performance merely cranking up the juice? It's not that easy.

Green Rendering

The production of realistic animations and effects sequences requires clusters of computers and mass storage known as "render farms". One approach to strike a balance between availability and energy consumption is to integrate power management tools into workflow. Here are two examples, along with one even more aggressive approach to green rendering.

Green Computing Case Studies

Computerworld's "Top 12 Green-IT Users" list links each organization's name to a sustainable IT mini-case study. These organization include businesses from a variety of sectors, a non-profit, and a government agency. I was stuck by unique and unexpected implementations:

Vertatique at the Hollywood Post Alliance

I'll be presenting on "Sustainable Media Technology & Practice" at the 2009 HPA Technology Retreat. The Alliance is a reference organization for much of the world's film and television content creation community and its inclusion of this topic in this year's program continues its tradition of leadership. The talk's abstract:

Energy, heat, carbon, heavy metal: the technology-intensive nature of content creation and

Enterprise-wide ICT

A recent white paper, IBM Software: a green strategy for your entire organization, asks "Why go green?" Its answer: "With today’s market realities—rising energy costs; shrinking power and space capacity; increased regulatory scrutiny; and higher customer expectations—going green is not only socially responsible, it’s an economic imperative . . .

Texas Data Pastures

One of the fun things about tracking Green ICT technologies and practices is reading the blogs of people reporting on progress within their own communities. An example is Data Pasture, which covers the Austin, TX area. An interesting aspect of this site is its advocacy of "micro data centers",

Beyond Green ICT

An article in the McKinsey Quarterly argues that ICT can enable enough energy efficiency and carbon reduction to more than offset ICT's growth. "An analysis of five groups of abatement opportunities finds that such technologies could help to eliminate 7.8 metric gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2020 [chart to right]—equivalent to 15 percent of global emissions today and five times more than our estimate of the emissions from these technologies in 2020." The authors base this on ICT's application to the broader economy, projecting that the gains of internal deployment (Green ICT) will be outweighed by ICT's overall global growth. (This article is also available as an MP3 download.)

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