The creation of ICT content - software and e-media - is part of ICT's footprint of resource input and waste output. A 2009 UK report, while dated, is still helpful in scoping the size and structure of media industry footprints.
The Bloom Energy Server is a "distributed power generator" that uses fuel cells to convert air and natural gas into electricity. We wrote in 2010 that the 'Bloom Boxes' are "already being used by ICT companies, but not for for mission-critical ICT applications." By mid-2012 we could report that they are used for applications ranging from television to telecom. We've updated this post with a video about e-Bay's Utah datacenter.
Set-top boxes (STBs), many with embedded DVRs, have become fixtures in American households. These devices, required for many digital televisions (DTV) services, and are rented from cable, satellite, and telephone companies or purchased from companies like Apple (Apple TV) and Google (ChromeCast). The proliferation of electronic devices have been frustrating household energy-saving measures and STBs, even when not in direct use, are no exception. A December 2013 agreement should result in more energy-efficient STBs.
ICT businesses continue to dominate Newsweek's 2012 Green Rankings of the top 500 US public companies, as they did in 2009-11 (see below). All five top 5 companies are in ICT sectors this year: IBM (#1), Hewlett-Packard (#2), Sprint Nextel (#3), and Dell (#4), CA Technologies (#5). All told, ICT sectors dominated the top 20 with a record 13 positions.
The US ENERGY STAR program looks only at energy efficiency and not other sustainability factors. About twenty set-top boxes (STBs) or cable, IP, or satellite from seven manufacturers came in at less than 65W in the program's Total Energy Consumption (TEC) metric. This is a big improvement from two years ago, when our top twenty cut-off was 100W.
The Apple TV set-top box (STB), which I own, has always been very energy efficient. It is consistently at top the of EPA's ENERGY STAR STB ratings. Now, a third-party test finds the 2013 edition to be the most efficient Apple TV yet.
We've identified almost 17 billion edge devices attached to our global ICT infrastructure. It turns out that the United States has a wide range of recycling rates for the different categories of e-gear. Which is best and which is worst?
Few American states have mandatory e-waste recycling laws for consumer media devices other than TVs; Colorado is the latest to do so. Pennsylvania's new law covers e-readers, but that's about it.
Disposal of satellite television dishes is the latest concern but few jurisdictions require recycling. The New York Times reports, "Many say the dishes end up in landfills, polluting the environment…The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association is challenging [local removal ordinances]." We estimate there are almost 200 million satellite TV dishes worldwide.
Matt Peterson runs the Website Veratique (http://vertatique.com), which focuses on greening tips and research regarding the post, broadcast and IT industries. He says, “Our analysis of national and global corporate sustainability rankings show that IT and communications companies typically outnumber media companies five to one in the top tiers. This is now changing, meaning more pressure is on media service operations to adopt sustainability specific to production and post workflows. Over 30 percent of facilities tell us that they already have such sustainability programs. These include requirements for hardware vendors, primarily focused on energy consumption and hazardous waste reduction.”
Samsung's transparent LCD panel "utilizes ambient light such as sunlight, which consequently reduces the power required since there is no backlight...The transparent LCD panels have a high transmittance rate, which enables a person to look right through the panel like glass, and it consumes 90% less electricity compared with a conventional LCD panel using back light unit." Samsug's panels won a Eco-Design and Sustainable Technologies award at CES 2012.