Email and email attachments have less environmental impact than physical delivery. But email is not without its own costs, both in terms of energy/carbon footprints and organizational productivity. A French company has taken a hard look at this and announced that it will move toward "zero email". At the same time, a German company has stopped its servers from routing some email after hours.
Fujitsu announced that it has established a consolidated green product development standard based on the IEC 62075 framework covering the environmentally conscious design of AV and ICT equipment. The standard will encourage product designs which "promote resource efficiency and recycling", "reduce power consumption during…use", "reduce noise levels", and "avoid…use of hazardous materials".
Communications is another area where we pay an energy/heat/carbon price for speed. IEEE Spectrum reported in 2008 that network interface controllers in computers and switching gear consume over 5 terawatt-hours per year in the United States alone. 1/Gb/s links consume 4W more than their 100 Mb/s counterparts and the upcoming 10 Gb/s link could consume 10-20W more. Fortunately, energy-efficient networking is receiving more attention as Green ICT expands beyond the data center.
UK telecom provider BT is working on broadband delivery technology that varies its power in response to demand.
The "latest generation of Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) line cards - which allow up to 20Mbit/s broadband speeds on the last mile of the network - [operates] in an 'always available' rather than 'always fully on' mode…BT’s network infrastructure currently accounts for more than 60 per cent of its carbon footprint and the access network represents a large part." BT reports this new tech - called "cool broadband" - is still under development, but has already been used in a small customer trial.
The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) announced that "it has assembled a record number of exhibitors who will showcase solutions for alternative energy and service assurance in the “Green Pavilion” at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo® in November in Atlanta, GA
We wrote in 2007, "…cable subscribers who feed TV sets and VCRs directly with analog cable taps (at least 32 million HH) may have to use STBs [set-top boxes] from their cable companies. The elimination of analog cable signals could drive [another] spike in energy consumption." A 2011 NRDC report reveals that this has, unfortunately, come to pass:
Much work in Green ICT is 'supply side': how to best implement an ever-expanding ICT infrastructure to meet an ever-expanding demand for ICT services. It's time to give attention to 'demand side' strategies which reduce the need for new ICT capacity in the first place. Here is what some enterprises are doing.
We had already noted the unnecessary demand placed on ICT infrastructure by document sharing via email. We advocate that organizations evolve to working on and sharing documents via web-based collaboration tools.
International CTIA WIRELESS 2011® Emerging Technology (E-Tech) Awards include a "Green Telecom & Smart Energy Solutions, Applications and Hardware" category. Winners are:
We're updating our 2010 look at Green ICT Earth Day activities with 2011 news.
Kansas City (MO, USA) carrier hotel 1102 GRAND announced that it had "recently implemented Kansas City Power & Light’s (KCP&L’s) Custom Rebate Retrofit Program and projects a Wattage reduction of 53 percent just in time for Earth Day 2011." 1102 Grand principal Darren Bonawitz emailed these lessons learned. "In our experience, it is always easier to cost justify implementing large scale infrastructure replacements with more eco-friendly options when expanding or replacing equipment at the end of its life cycle. Those projects do not happen every month or year even. In between, commercial companies can take advantage of programs to complete smaller projects that still provide incremental energy savings. A series of smaller projects are often easier to implement and the sum of their energy reduction can be just as significant as a single large scale retrofit."
This isn't really ICT-related, but we could not resist. The CIA's Earth Day press release leads with, "The Central Intelligence Agency’s practice of shredding and burning classified papers...is one of several ways the CIA conserves energy, reduces its impact on the environment, and lowers costs through its sustainability efforts. Exhaust from the Agency’s on-site incinerator generates steam to heat water at CIA Headquarters. In addition to saving fuel, that process reduces the amount of waste—which would otherwise be destined for landfills—by nearly 1,000 tons per year." Burn before showering.
According to Pike Research, "capital investment in energy-efficient network equipment will reach $122 billion by 2014, representing 46% of the total network infrastructure market...The opportunity is largest for mobile network operators, which we expect will represent almost two-thirds of the green telecom market. This focus is especially relevant as mobile operators deploy 4G networks at scale over the next few years."