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.
Is the shipment of used ICT to developing areas an example of environmental and economic sustainability by extending equipment lifecycles and making tech available to those who cannot pay market prices for new gear? Or is it a patronizing position that suggests older tech is 'good enough' for some people and that exacerbates these regions' e-waste problems. This issues has similarities to one from 35 years ago.
Handling our gear's heat has always been an issue for installations large and small. ICT equipment typical took 1x-2x again more energy to remove its heat as it took to power it in the first place (PUE of 2.0+), driving both energy costs and carbon footprints. Early efforts focused on the two obvious tactics: make both the ICT gear and the air conditioning more efficient. We now see these augmented by innovative new approaches to the problem, ranging from seawater cooling to variable-speed fan retrofits.
The Triple Bottom Line (3BL) concept links three aspects of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social. It is sometimes easy to lose track of economic sustainability in our enthusiasm for the other two. The failure of a Euro/African project bringing solar-based ICT to Gambia is a real-world reminder.
The convergence of multiple lines of Green ICT inquiry is a sign of Green ICT progress. We have covered the growing use of fuel cells to power ICT facilities and the advancement of DC distribution inside the data center. A recent demonstration brings these two concepts together to improve energy efficiency and reliability.
Microgrids - small electricity generation and distribution networks - are becoming an increasingly common way to support ICT in remote areas. What distinguish a true remote ICT microgrid from a locally-powered remote piece of ICT gear like a base station? A microgrid is an integrated network consisting of one or more power generating systems, storage, control electronics and a diverse load. Imagine interconnected solar PV and with diesel generation backup powering not only that base station but also a community charging station for phones and tablets and a school's wireless router. To the extent that ICT microgrids support a significant proportion of renewable generation, they contribute to Green ICT and help bring urgently-needed sustainability to ICT4D. Here is a look at the big picture. Future updates will include implementations.
GSMA's Global Mobile Awards' Green Mobile Awards are for "mobile industry organisations that are focused on the reduction of environmental impacts through eco-friendly, innovative policies, products, programmes or initiatives, as well as organisations outside of the industry that utilise the mobile platform to communicate, innovate or drive eco-friendly programmes, services and initiatives." Here's a look at the 2009-2013 winners and at the trend toward greener mobile base stations.
Apple's 2012 Facilities Report opened by observing, "We know that as much as 98 percent of our total emissions comes from the greenhouse gas emitted from the production, transport, use, and recycling of products. Our corporate facilities represent 2 percent of our total GHG emissions." This is likely true of many ITC players and and that this is why life-cycle impact is Vertatique's focus when it come to e-gear. We've updated this post with the results of Apple's 2013 report.
Gartner, the ICT research and advisory company, got off to an early start in Green ICT recognition with two events in 2010. Since then, the organization appears to have dropped its focus on recognizing sustainable ICT.