There Are Still Plenty of Simple Wins in Green ICT

A report from the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps illustrates a few basic concepts of Green ICT that can often get obscured in more sophisticated discussions.

Climate Corps fellow Jen Snook discovered an opportunity to save lighting costs in 100 million square feet at telecom company AT&T. This represents the space used for equipment, which Snook discovered was lighted 100% of the time but was typically occupied only about 10% of the time.

Key to Snook's insight was to approach the with task with an expressed commitment to "Question". "Currently, there is a big push in the energy efficiency world to convert the omnipresent linear fluorescent light bulbs to more efficient technology that uses roughly a third less energy to produce the same amount of light. However, what if we just kept the lights off? Growing up, my father insisted that I turn the lights off whenever I left a room. It’s simple logic, if no one is around, there is no need to waste energy, or as my dad saw it, waste money. The same logic holds today in my work at AT&T. If nobody is in a room, keep the lights off!" Occupancy sensors, not a more expensive lighting retrofit, was her solution.

Three important concepts here.

One is the importance of engaging external collaborators in Green ICT initiatives. I have never encountered an organization, no matter how aware and knowledgeable, who could not benefit from outside perspectives.

Another is to make sure both outside collaborators and internal team members have both the ability and the charter to question established beliefs. Green ICT initiatives with hidden agendas to preserve legacy assignments of virtue to people, institutions, and behaviors will rarely yield high impact outcomes.

Finally, keep in mind that Green ICT needs to look at all aspects of information and telecommunications operations to make sure we've discovering all the opportunities. Most CO2e does not come from classic data centers. The network infrastructure and the edge are equally important.