Our e-devices contain all sorts of exotic materials, many of which, like tungsten, tantalum, and tin, are refined from ores that originate in Central Africa. Called "conflict minerals", they fund warfare in the Congo and neighboring countries. More people are said have been killed here than any conflict since World War Two. A recent court decision has potentially weakened an American law requiring companies to disclose conflict minerals content.
Dematerialization refers to the reduction in the quantity of materials required to accomplish a function in society. In sustainability terms, dematerialization refers to the replacement of a high-resource/waste activity with a lower-impact one. ICT has become a powerful dematerialization force, evidenced, for example, by how it has replaced physical mail with electronic mail. The US theatrical release of a major motion picture only in digital marks another phase in media dematerialization.
New ICT facilities implementing the latest in Green ICT technologies and practices garner much publicity, yet a lot is being done with existing ones. The latest post looks at what a major financial services company accomplished through interdepartmental cooperation.
We've covered technology to reduce paper use when printing. What about reducing ink use? A high school student's study found that his school could save $21,000/year by switching typefaces...and the United States government could save $234 million!
We've been following the issue of conflict minerals in our e-devices for more than five years. Our readers will know that cassiterite, the mineral ore form of tin, is a conflict mineral when mined in Central Africa. It turns out that much more tin - over a third of the world's consumption - is mined in Indonesia. Tin extraction there is not driven by conflict, but is still a brutal business for the miners and takes a toll on the environment.
We've noted a number of studies that suggest moving to the cloud is the greener solution for most organizations' ICT needs. That's great for client companies, but what about the cloud provider? Companies striving to reduce their C02e footprints while providing cloud services face a challenge: they end up internalizing the very emissions their customers are externalizing. Business software and services provider SAP is facing that challenge. Here is what the company plans to about it.
This is solar-powered base station on top of a mountain in Lapland (Finland).
Remote ICT infrastructures are embracing renewable energy for everything from earthquake mitigation in Japan. CO2e reduction in India to . Fuel/power costs appear to have gone down since 2009 for off-grid mobile operations, but are still significant. Asia leads world in current renewable base stations and in growth potential. One operator - Indus Towers - now has 20,000 zero-diesel sites.
We've developed and refined our definition of Green ICT over the years, but it is always useful to learn from others. SITA-Research Center is a European initiative "to encourage the collaboration of IT scientists world wide to develop Sustainable Information Technologies and Applications...we focus on simple principles which sustainable IT solutions should meet: Longevity - Efficiency - Refinability - Scalability." How do these four concepts map into our Green ICT perspective?
Assessing the carbon footprint of ITC equipment is a critical part of Green ICT. Much of a piece of gear's footprint comes from "embodied" carbon - the carbon released during is creation and transportation, before the user ever powers it up. It turns out that this has been true since the Iron Age.