Posted by: lrrp | February 16, 2009

IT going green

Global warming has been a much talked about topic for as long as I can remember. The level of interest and the push for addressing the issues have increased significantly over the past couple of years. Fact is, everything that we do has an impact on the global climate, even the computers we use on a daily basis.

Information Technology is responsible for 2% of all carbon emissions, about the same as the airlines industry. The carbon emission produced by the IT sector in the developed nations is as high as 5-6%. Analysts say that the IT sector’s carbon footprint will triple during the next 10-12 years.

The United States throws away 500 million computers and 130 million cell phones every year. Referred to as e-waste, these contain more than 1,000 chemicals used during its production such as lead, mercury and cadmium which can lead to cancer and other illnesses. One could question, does this really happen? How can a silly computer give me cancer! As with any kind of waste, e-waste at some point will erode and get absorbed into the earth’s atmosphere. It’s like a slow moving environment killer that, when it reaches the peak only will we see its deadly consequences.

Another way in which IT contributes to global warming is by its high demand for energy. Typically, an office building would require more than 50% of its power to be consumed by its IT infrastructure. Having to generate more energy means burning more coal or nuclear power that ends up polluting the air even more.

Truth be told, this is hardly a concern for us Sri Lankans. But it is interesting to know how the big players in the IT sector are going green which inadvertently affects our way of using computers and technologies.

Both Sun Microsystems and Microsoft sponsor active recycling and reuse programs designed to keep electronics out of the waste stream. At Sun, customers can participate in the companies hardware upgrade program, where they can return end-of-life equipment at no cost. Sun then ships the equipment to a third-party vendor, which dismantles the equipment and returns any useful parts to Sun.

Over at Apple, the company recycled 13 million pounds of e-waste in 2006, the equivalent of 9.5 percent of the weight of all Apple products sold since 2000.

Chip designers such as Intel, have realized that lowering per-core performance by 20% actually cuts power usage in half, so adding cores can improve chip performance and efficiency.

Power saving is another initiative that most software vendors such as Apple and Microsoft have continuously worked on, having developed power management features in their operating systems that help control computer energy consumption.

Who are the top 10 Green-IT vendors ?

1. IBM
2. BT Group PLC
3. Qualcomm Inc.
4. Aplicor Inc.
5. Fujitsu America Inc.
6. Microsoft Inc.
7. Hewlett-Packard Co.
8. Network Appliance Inc.
9. Other World Computing
10. Verizon wireless

Couple of points to note in this list is, Microsoft is clearly not putting as much effort as one would expect being the most popular and adopted software in the world. The other is, where is Apple?

I expect more vendors to push for products that are environment friendly and the momentum will grow as customers become more aware of the global warming crisis and look to finding better solutions that gives them a cheaper power bill.


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