Information technology is considered a “clean” industry. True, its contribution to global environmental issues pails in comparison to automobiles or heavy industry. But IT does contribute to the problem, and it’s growing.
Right now, the global information and communications technology industry accounts for approximately 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions which is equivalent to the emissions from aviation. It’s expected to grow 50 percent by 2020 (McKinsey).
Here’s seven ways IT could slash those numbers, save energy and help the environment.
- Get informed: According to Deloitte, information and expertise – not technology – are the most common barriers to green IT. Some 44% of employees surveyed cite lack of information and trusted practices for improving IT’s environmental performance as the main obstacle; 42% say an inability to define business case for change; 39% say uncertainty or skepticism about business benefit of environmentally sound IT.
- Modernize communications: Unified Communications (UC), enabled by SIP Trunking, saves power and cooling by consolidating the number of networks and scaling back the number of IP PBXs a company needs. Meantime, audio / video conferencing and online collaboration replaces travel, reducing costs and carbon emissions by electronically bringing together geographically distributed teams. Telecommuting and smart desk-sharing schemes can reduce automobile travel and also overall energy use by cutting the required office space (energy and capital costs fall because of less office equipment to buy and less office space to lease, maintain, heat, and air-condition).
- Use converged network copier-printers: Lyra Research states that usage of converged network copier-printers products allows equipment consolidation, reducing the number of output devices in a typical corporation by up to 60%. In addition, IT departments are freed from supporting diverse types of printers.
- Audit operations: A recent internal audit of Sprint’s IT operations, to manage data center growth and eliminate IT redundancies, has enabled it to cut approximately $20 million worth of operating costs and reduce the company’s overall IT carbon footprint by approximately 10,450 metric tons. Actions include retiring underutilized applications, eliminating and redeploying servers, and freeing data center capacity, resulting in decreased carbon emissions and reduced power consumption (see Forrester Research case study documenting the 11-month effort).
- Use power managed laptops: With estimated energy costs of a little under $0.15 per kWh, a business with 500 computers could save more than $100,000 by switching from free-running desktops to power-managed laptops. Secondly, laptop computers are more resource efficient than desktops. A typical laptop with an LCD monitor consumes less than half the amount taken by an equivalent desktop/monitor pair - about 570 kWh per year.
- Plan: Between 30% and 60% of the electricity consumed in server rooms is wasted - but integrated planning using current and emerging technologies can reduce power consumption in data centers by 50-80% and required floor space by up to 65%.
- Practice best energy management practices: According to the Aug 2007 EPA Report to Congress on Data Center Efficiency, implementing best energy-management practices in existing data centers could reduce their current energy usage by 30%. Up to 70% reduction in energy usage could be achieved by using high efficiency technologies for cooling and power equipment and virtualization techniques. (Data centers consume about 1.5 percent of the electricity in the U.S, according to Deloitte).