|Vertatique's Green Biomed initiative advances the reduction of energy, waste, and carbon emissions
in the design, manufacture, use, and disposal of biotechnology and healthcare equipment.
The "digital hospital" is just one indicator of how healthcare has become part of the Green ICT "Total Industry" model. A 2007 report by the US Energy Information Administration showed the impact: "The 2003 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) data showed that large hospitals (greater than 200,000 square feet) accounted for less than 1 percent of all commercial buildings and 2 percent of commercial floorspace, but consumed 4.3 percent of the total delivered energy used by the commercial sector in 2003 1. Data from the 2007 CBECS show that the major fuels (electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, and district heat) consumed by large hospitals totaled 458 trillion Btu, which is 5.5 percent of the total delivered energy used by the commercial sector in 2007."
Hospitals and the healthcare facilities have begun to hear the call to action, but challenges remain.
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. Progress is being made, but legal setbacks and weak laws are slowing efforts. The latest critiicisms focus on proposed EU regulations.
The healthcare, like most industries, has seen seen its electronic technologies become ICT technologies. Medical facilities are ICT facilities and much medical gear is ICT gear. That's consistent with our inclusive definition of Green ICT. Here are some industry initiatives having an impact:
Containerized modules have become building blocks for mega data centers. These plug-and-play units offer cost-effective scalability for hosting cloud applications needing only a homogeneous platform. A UK nonprofit known for providing refurbished computers to developing countries now offers an innovative containerized ICT solution for use in disaster areas and remote communities. Computer Aid International launched its ZubaBox in 2012 with the slogan "ICT Hub-In-A-Box Offers Internet Connectivity Anytime, Anywhere". The concept has now been nominated for an award.
The line between "devices" and "IT" is quickly fading as these two categories merge. Hospitals are a good example. In the late 20th century, many hospitals had two technology departments: "biomed" and "computers". As biomedical devices have becoming increasingly digital and networked, and as IT moves onto mobile devices, many hospitals have consolidated these operations into a single technology organization. A consequence is that Green ICT embraces medical devices and their infrastructures. Our original 2010 post noted that medical equipment sold into the European Union was exempt from the Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, but that would be changing. There is now a firm 2014 date.
We've always taken a broad view of the definition of an ICT facility. More than just data centers, ICT facilities include everything from broadcast studios to telecom network operating centers. Hospitals' network closets, an instance of decentralized ICT, are the focus of an informative white paper from Emerson Power Networks.
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
One sign that it is still early days for green computing can be seen in the intersection, or lack thereof, of two UK initiatives . . .
Vertatique welcomes visitors from the Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Device Association's 2007 Annual Conference "Enhancing Life Sciences".We have pulled together a number of posts illustrating practices, technologies, and regulations impacting biomedical enterprises seeking to be sustainable global citizens: click here to view. A copy of the Vertatique presentation can be downloaded from the WBMDA link above.