Society & Culture & Entertainment Education

Green IT Demystified

Green information technology (IT), known also as green computing, is the study and use of IT in an environmentally sustainable manner. This concept has gained traction of late as the IT sector as a whole consumes massive energy resources.

IT and telecommunications facilities account for 3% of total electricity use in the United States, according to a report of the US Department of Energy. That is quite a humongous figure!

The report also states that the country needs two new large power plants every year to cater this growing demand for electricity only from these two sectors.

By implementing green IT practices, we not only conserve energy, but also cut down the IT costs of a company drastically. This can be done in various ways, such as by using power efficiently, reducing waste, by manufacturing eco-friendly computing products, etc. In fact, companies are also provided financial incentives if they practice environmentally friendly measures!

When we dispose of PCs, computer peripherals and other equipment, we should see to it that they are done in an eco-friendly manner.

There are other ways of implementing green computing. Let us have a look at some of them here.

Telecommuting and video conferencing, which cut down travel, use of cloud services, incorporation of server and storage virtualization are some of the ways of cutting down on greenhouse gas emission (GHGs). For example, when a laptop is used instead of a desktop PC, lot of energy is saved as laptops need just one power cord, which too is required only for charging the battery.

A very basic technique of saving power is to ask computer users to turn off their devices when they are not using them.

Computer peripherals, which are energy efficient, are now widely available in the market. They come with an Energy Star rating or are certified by Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).

For instance, by changing printer configurations, less paper and ink is used. Publishing certain reports electronically, instead of on paper, reduces paper usage. By ensuring that cooling systems are running very efficiently, energy is conserved in server rooms and datacenters.

PCs and other peripherals comprise toxic substances, such as radioactive isotopes, mercury, dioxins, cadmium, chromium, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and lead. So it is not a wise thing to do if we dump them in landfills. Alternately if they are incinerated, we cause air pollution. We could instead extract metals, such as tin, aluminum, and iron, in addition to plastics from them and reuse them. What's more, certain components of PCs or peripherals can be recycled.

Since 2004, businesses have been appointing chief sustainability officers (CSOs) to specifically address these issues. Some companies, in fact, have been using Enterprise Carbon & Energy Management (ECEM) software.

When companies invest in green computing, their image also improves, as it demonstrates their concern towards the environment. Search engine giant Google was recently awarded International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) 50001 certification for the implementation of energy management systems at is various datacenter facilities in the US. Google is the first company in North America to receive this particular certification.

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