Global Green ICT Update: Americas

Updates from the Americas (ex-USA). Click here for regional Green ICT updates from around the globe. Click on 'Americas' tag above for all news about the region.

The Global E-waste Monitor 2017 reports, "In Latin America, 4.2 Mt of e-waste was estimated to be generated in 2016, with an average of 7.1 kg/ inh. The Latin American countries with the highest e-waste generation are: Brazil 1.5 Mt, Mexico 1 Mt, and Argentina 0.4 Mt. The top three countries in Latin America with the highest e-waste generation in relative quantities in 2016 were Uruguay (10.8 kg/ inh), Chile (8.7 kg/ inh), and Argentina (8.4 kg/ inh)." Mexico has the best record of e-waste collection. "Mexico collects most of the e-waste in Latin America (358 kt), which leads to a collection rate of approximately 36% compared to the e-waste generated. The collection rate in the rest of Latin America is lower than 3%." Mexico's rate of 36% is superior to the United States (22%) and Canada (20%). (A collection rate is not necessarily a measure of how much e-waste is disposed of in an environmentaly-responsible way.) The Monitor cites two regional barriers to better performance. "The main challenge with sustainable e-waste management in Latin America is the acceleration of all legislation processes." "The lack of a historical environmental culture in Latin America fuels the thought that the final user of EEE is not responsible for proper disposal and treatment."

A January 2018 article in Bloomberg identifies Canada as a potential location for miners of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. "The global power needed to create cryptocurrencies this year a growth driver for renewable energy producers from the U.S. to China...One eager entrant is Hydro-Quebec, Canada’s biggest electric utility. It’s in 'very advanced' talks with more than 30 cryptocurrency miners -- many of them currently operating in China -- and expects to announce agreements in 2018...Within four years, Hydro-Quebec envisions miners soaking up about five terawatt-hours of power annually -- equivalent to about 300,000 Quebec homes -- from the surplus created by the region’s hydroelectric dams." Hydroelectric power is attractive to cryptocurrency miners not necessarily because it is renewable energy but because governments often sell the power at below-market rates.


The data center community has been very focused on reducing energy cost with "free cooling" - disposing of waste heat using natural cooling sources such as cold air and cold water. Even use of seasonal ice for datacenter cooling has been considered! Now, an article from Brazil offers a a unique perspective on a bias implicit in this focus.

"The largest data centers in the world are located in the northern hemisphere, which is not surprising since this is where the largest manufacturers of infrastructure equipment are located. So it is natural that the research and development centers of these manufacturers develop solutions that meet the climatic conditions of the hemisphere in which they operate. Any solution adopting free cooling as a way to optimize data center cooling will be much more effective the farther away from the equator, where the average annual temperatures are lower."

The author, Paulo Cesar de Resende Pereira of Fox Engenharia e Consultoria (Brazil), argues that tropical ICT should focus on clean energy, rather than unrealistic cooling energy reduction, for data center cooling.

"The concept of free energy emerges as an alternative to free cooling, on the grounds that it is more suitable to the Brazilian reality and to other countries with similar weather. It is related to power generation using any renewable energy source that has been obtained directly from nature through an environmentally sustainable process...Because of the distributed generation and the ability of interaction between the minigeneration and the energy provider, free energy has become a feasible concept...As an alternative to free cooling, the use of photovoltaics is increasingly being seen as a viable option in countries with a high solar radiation index – like Brazil – where renewable energy can be obtained for free from the natural resources available on the planet."


The DatacenterDynamics Awards for Europe-Middle East-Africa, Asia-Pacific, and North America all feature a Green Data Center category and we've drawn from the winners for posts over the years. The Latin American and Brazilian awards do not have this category. Does this reflect the lack of Green ICT progress in the region? We've reached out to the DatacenterDynamics folks about why no Green Data Center awards for region.

The Haiti Connected Schools Program "brings sustainable computing solutions and Internet connections to 40 schools in rural Haiti." When a school is ready to receive a lab "solar panels are installed either on the roof or on poles next to the computer lab and the indoor cabling with inverter and batteries are completed." Although everything from ICT gear to LED lighting could be powered directly by DC from solar panels, most rural solar-based ICT programs use less efficient DC-to-AC inversion. Click here for a discussion of why and here for an overview of DC power for ICT.


Canada's Intelligent Living Corp. (ILVC) has announced the "launch of 'Spirit' series green built, energy efficient pre-manufactured modular buildings targeting first nations and emergency relief…The higher end units are pre-wired for ILVC's 'touch and control' Smart Home integrated monitoring and automation system for controlling environmental parameters, energy use, access and security, lighting, network, audio and video."

Desktop virtualization company NComputing is featuring its role in a British Columbia school "recognized as the first school in Canada with a carbon neutral computer lab…the new computer lab uses 80% less electricity than a traditional lab, while reducing emissions by as much as 80%." Desktop virtualization has been deployed within education in developing economies because of its cost advantages; we are now seeing more interest from developed economies in its sustainability benefits.

The Quest for Canada's Smartest IT contest includes a "Greenest IT Award". Award applicants need to make a compelling case in three areas: "Maturity, Green IT & Business, and the WOW! factor." 2010 winners: "Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that won the Greenest IT award. They used virtualization in their carbon neutral Earth Rangers Centre, a living demonstration site for green products and services. Professional Engineers Ontario won second prize for for the [ICT and other] sustainability initiatives within their association. The PEO governs over 80,000 licensed engineers in Ontario." The 2011 winner, Lipton Chartered Accounts, won more for 'greening with ICT' than 'greening ICT'.


The Sustainable Scribe, the blog of, is publishing occasional posts on sustainable media production under the heading Green Screen. We encourage Green Screen to publish regularly, particularly to update the global ICT community on green media in Canada.

Canadian precious metals company Teck is supplying the Royal Canadian Mint with gold, silver, and bronze that includes recycled e-waste for the Olympic and Paraolympic medals. Bloomberg reports that Sony and Zenith TVs are included. The details begin about 2:15 into Teck's video.

Canadian Green Tech describers itself as "your comprehensive source of information for Canada’s green technology space. The website provides timely news and information as well as in-depth analysis of the rapidly evolving green sector in Canada."

Brazilian and Mexican companies' workspace and data centers represent the biggest focus points in terms of green IT investment.