Green computing, green IT or ICT Sustainability, refers to environmentally sustainable computing or IT. In the article Harnessing Green IT: Principles and Practices, San Murugesan defines the field of green computing as "the study and practice of designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computers, servers, and associated subsystems—such as monitors, printers, storage devices, and networking and communications systems — efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment."
The goals of green computing are similar to green chemistry; reduce the use of hazardous materials, maximize energy efficiency during the product's lifetime, and promote the recyclability or biodegradability of defunct products and factory waste. Research continues into key areas such as making the use of computers as energy-efficient as possible, and designing algorithms and systems for efficiency-related computer technologies.
Green computing, the study and practice of efficient and eco-friendly computing resources, is now under the attention of not only environmental organizations, but also businesses from other industries. In recent years, companies in the computer industry have come to realize that going green is in their best interest, both in terms of public relations and reduced costs. This article will take a look at several green initiatives currently under way in the computer industry, as well as issues that have been raised regarding these initiatives. We will also have a talk with VIA to learn more about the future of green computing.
The field of "green technology " encompasses a broad range of subjects — from new energy-generation techniques to the study of advanced materials to be used in our daily life. Green technology focuses on reducing the environmental impact of industrial processes and innovative technologies caused by the Earth’s growing population. It has taken upon itself the goal to provide society’s needs in ways that do not damage or deplete natural resources. Mainly this means creating fully recyclable products, reducing pollution, proposing alternative technologies in various fields, and creating a center of economic activity around technologies that benefit the environment.
VIA Technologies Green Computing
VIA Technologies, a Taiwanese company that manufactures motherboard chipsets, CPUs, and other computer hardware, introduced its initiative for "green computing" in 2001. With this green vision, the company has been focusing on power efficiency throughout the design and manufacturing process of its products. Its environmentally friendly products are manufactured using a range of clean-computing strategies, and the company is striving to educate markets on the benefits of green computing for the sake of the environment, as well as productivity and overall user experience.
Government regulation, however well-intentioned, is only part of an overall green computing philosophy. The work habits of computer users and businesses can be modified to minimize adverse impact on the global environment. Here are some steps that can be taken:
- Power-down the CPU and all peripherals during extended periods of inactivity.
- Try to do computer-related tasks during contiguous, intensive blocks of time, leaving hardware off at other times.
- Power-up and power-down energy-intensive peripherals such as laser printers according to need.
- Use liquid-crystal-display (LCD) monitors rather than cathode-ray-tube (CRT) monitors.
- Use notebook computers rather than desktop computers whenever possible.
- Use the power-management features to turn off hard drives and displays after several minutes of inactivity.
- Minimize the use of paper and properly recycle waste paper.
- Dispose of e-waste according to federal, state and local regulations.
- Employ alternative energy sources for computing workstations, servers, networks anddata centers.
Software and deployment optimization
The efficiency of algorithms has an impact on the amount of computer resources required for any given computing function and there are many efficiency trade-offs in writing programs. While algorithmic efficiency does not have as much impact as other approaches, it is still an important consideration. A study by a physicist at Harvard, estimated that the average Google search released 7 grams of carbon dioxide (CO₂). However, Google disputes this figure, arguing instead that a typical search produces only 0.2 grams of CO₂.]More recently, an independent study by GreenIT.fr demonstrate that Windows 7 + Office 2010 require 70 times more memory (RAM) than Windows 98 + Office 2000 to write exactly the same text or send exactly the same e-mail than 10 years ago
Algorithms can also be used to route data to data centers where electricity is less expensive. Researchers from MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and Akamai have tested an energy allocation algorithm that successfully routes traffic to the location with the cheapest energy costs. The researchers project up to a 40 percent savings on energy costs if their proposed algorithm were to be deployed. However, this approach does not actually reduce the amount of energy being used; it reduces only the cost to the company using it. Nonetheless, a similar strategy could be used to direct traffic to rely on energy that is produced in a more environmentally friendly or efficient way. A similar approach has also been used to cut energy usage by routing traffic away from data centers experiencing warm weather; this allows computers to be shut down to avoid using air conditioning.
Larger server centers are sometimes located where energy and land are inexpensive and readily available. Local availability of renewable energy, climate that allows outside air to be used for cooling, or locating them where the heat they produce may be used for other purposes could be factors in green siting decisions.
Computer virtualization refers to the abstraction of computer resources, such as the process of running two or more logical computer systems on one set of physical hardware. The concept originated with the IBM mainframe operating systems of the 1960s, but was commercialized for x86-compatible computers only in the 1990s. With virtualization, a system administrator could combine several physical systems into virtual machines on one single, powerful system, thereby unplugging the original hardware and reducing power and cooling consumption. Virtualization can assist in distributing work so that servers are either busy or put in a low-power sleep state. Several commercial companies and open-source projects now offer software packages to enable a transition to virtual computing. Intel Corporation and AMD have also built proprietary virtualization enhancements to the x86 instruction set into each of their CPU product lines, in order to facilitate virtualized computing.
Green computing certifications
Some certifications demonstrate that an individual has specific green computing knowledge, including:
- Green Computing Initiative - GCI offers the Certified Green Computing User Specialist (CGCUS), Certified Green Computing Architect (CGCA) and Certified Green Computing Professional (CGCP) certifications.
- CompTIA Strata Green IT is designed for IT managers to show that they have good knowledge of green IT practices and methods and why it is important to incorporate them into an organization.
- Information Systems Examination Board (ISEB) Foundation Certificate in Green IT is appropriate for showing an overall understanding and awareness of green computing and where its implementation can be beneficial.
- Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) Singapore Certified Green IT Professional is an industry endorsed professional level certification offered with SiTF authorized training partners. Certification requires completion of a four day instructor-led core course, plus a one day elective from an authorized vendor.
- Australian Computer Society (ACS) The ACS offers a certificate for "Green Technology Strategies" as part of the Computer Professional Education Program (CPEP). Award of a certificate requires completion of a 12 week e-learning course, with written assignments.