Green computing refers to environmentally sustainable computing. It is also the environmentally responsible use of computers and related resources. It is called green IT, which stands for Information Technology. In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a program called “Energy Star”. It is a voluntary labeling program designed to promote and recognize energy-efficiency. One result was the adoption of “sleep mode” in consumer electronics. ‘Green computing’, as a phrase, was used shortly after the Energy Star program was initiated. The goals of green computing include the following:
- Reduce the use of hazardous materials
- Maximize energy efficiency
- Promote recyclability of old products and factory waste
Many governmental agencies have continued to implement standards and regulations that encourage green computing. The Energy Star program was revised in October 2006 to include stricter efficiency requirements for computer equipment.
Government regulation is only one part of an overall green computing philosophy. The work habits of computer users and also businesses can be modified to minimize adverse impact on the global environment. Here are some suggestions.
- Power-down the CPU and other peripherals during periods of inactivity.
- Do computer related work during 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 LCD display monitors instead of CRTs.
- Use notebook computers rather than desktop computers whenever possible.
- Use power-management features to turn off hard drives and displays after several minutes of inactivity.
- Use blade servers which take up less space.
- Minimize use of paper and recycle used paper.
- Dispose of old computers through recycling.
- Design alternative energy sources for computing workstations and servers and networks and data centers.
A popular green computing group is the tactical incrementalists. This group applies and uses green computing philosophy to save on costs rather than the environment. This concept evolved as companies found themselves under pressure to maximize resources in order to compete effectively.
A second group, Strategic Leaders, take into account the social and environmental impacts of new and emerging technologies. In addition to minimizing costs, this particular group takes into account other factors such as marketing and branding. Unlike the tactical incrementalists, strategic leaders recognize the need to overhaul some existing policies of the organizations. This is evident in recent efforts to make IT personnel responsible for managing, minimizing and ensuring efficient energy expenditures.
The standard 200-Watt PC operating for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 50 weeks a year, will use 400 kWh. In comparison, the new breed of Green-PCs use and average of 30 W, so that would only total 60 kWh – an energy savings of 85%.
In July of 2011, in Orlando, Florida, USA the Second International Green Computing Conference will be held. Its motto is: Sustainable Computing and Computing for Sustainability. The conference provides a forum for discussing, sharing and investigating the state-of-the-art for all aspects of green computing. Some of the interesting topics include:
- Power-aware software
- Power-efficient architectures and chip designs
- Power leakage and dissipation
- Resource management to optimize performance and power
- Power implications for portable and mobile computing
- Models for collective optimization of power and performance
- Thermal control of data centers
- Energy recycling
- Energy efficient power and cooling infrastructure
- Power efficient cluster and enterprise computing
The main duty of green computing is to design, manufacture, use, and dispose of computing systems and accessories in an environmentally respectful way. Becoming aware of green computing issues is the first step in learning to be environmentally sustainable.
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