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Think Green in the IT Industry

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Last updated August 27th, 2013 by Boyana Peeva in Tech


Being Green...

Being green or eco-friendly has become such a catchphrase that it has lost some of its meaning, and while companies still try to green up their act, many fall short of their goals. Reducing your carbon footprint is great, but when it comes to running a business in the IT industry, there are some things you can and cannot do when trying to cut back on energy use and carbon output. If you owned a restaurant and someone talked to you about reducing your carbon footprint and going green by shutting off your ovens, broilers, and anything else that used natural gas, you would probably look at them sideways and walk away without saying anything. Your IT-based business works in much the same way with your servers, computers, and other devices that have to have their power on for your business to work properly. At the same time, there are plenty of ways to cut your energy costs while making your business as green as a landscaping company.

However, making your IT-based business an energy-efficient and green company is not as hard as it sounds. There are plenty of ways to ensure that all of your power-reliant devices comply with the latest industry standards, but you can also go one step further.

  • You can ensure that any computers you use are set to energy-efficient levels. Your servers and anything connected with them, like your backups and your master slaves, are all pretty passive computers that need to be running constantly, but they do not need to be overclocked at all times. You can use less energy by letting your servers do smaller portions of work than by having one server do all of the work.
  • Similarly, if you have a lot of computers in your office, not all of them necessarily have to be on and running, and shutting them down, or at least letting them sleep, can add up in a big way to help your company go green. If possible, switching to laptops or tablets is another great way your company can save lots of energy since laptops or tablets can charge when no one is using them and then run off of battery power at any other time.
  • Since pretty much any device you have at your company can and will break down over time, recycling any parts you can is a huge way to exist in the green world. Computers especially have lots of recyclable parts that lots of different companies can make use of for a much longer period of time. Since technology is so rapidly changing, chances are that you do not even give your devices a chance to wear out before you have the latest technology, which is great. There are plenty of donation programs that are setup for companies like yours to give the computers, laptops, and tablets that they are no longer using to schools across the country and even the world. They wipe the hard drives and then allow people who might not otherwise have computer access the ability to use and get comfortable with computers.
  • Monitors use lots of power too, and even though LEDs might not use quite as much energy as the old cathode ray tube monitors, they still use way more energy than most household appliances. Organic light-emitting diode technology can use up to a fourth as little energy as LED technology, and while it is still new, switching to OLED monitors can help.

In the end, it is hard for the IT industry to become green since there have not been many strides in more energy efficient computing technologies. Besides pens and paper, everything else in the IT industry requires power to make it work. While most businesses are already becoming more and more green conscious, the gains in power supply energy use and reduction have been minimal. So it is up to the business owners to figure out other ways to cut down on energy use in their own companies until the computer manufacturers figure out a better way to power their machines. Either that or you can hire an IT guru that can figure out how to build a more energy efficient computer, and then make billions off of their breakthrough.  

Green practices by leading IT companies

Obviously the IT industry is trying to break through this and there are plenty of excellent examples from leading companies including Intel, Dell, and Cannon. Their strides to make the industry greener by setting examples and leading research are already resonating in ways that you might not even realize.


Intel logoIntel is definitely leading the charge in the industry, even going so far as to establish an IT Sustainability Program Office that is in charge of not only helping Intel itself become more energy efficient and mindful of sustainability but also of reaching out to the rest of the IT industry and sharing their research and progress. Their drive is threefold: reduce energy consumption and increase computing and data center efficiency, incorporate new technologies to reduce energy and increase efficiency, and share and collaborate with others in the field and industry to effectively data mine and improve on any results. Their IT Sustainability Program Office has already laid a road map that will allow them to drive energy efficiency and sustainable practices into the future.



Canon logoCanon has a similar program called Factor 2, their global environmental performance program, that was developed in order to attempt to double their efficiency by 2010 based on their 2000 numbers. Their program had two measures that led them: to implement technologies to maximize resources and reduce their environmental burden through improved efficiency. With a focus on reducing their CO2 emissions, Cannon was quite successful over eight years with a 30% reduction. To top that, they have been among the top three companies in the US to be granted patents, with the majority of the patents going towards energy efficiency and lower operating costs. In order to implement their second initiative, they began by purchasing green energy, doing things as simple as changing their light bulbs in some offices to more energy efficient fixtures, moving into a more energy efficient building, and cutting down on business flights by teleconferencing and telecommuting. While these three things alone might seem like obvious and universal ways that any company can strive to become green, having a technologies leader do simple stuff like this sets a standard for others to follow.


Dell logoDell is working to directly green up the industry by cutting down the power that its computers use during non-business hours. Programs like 1E's NightWatchman and 1E's WakeUp helped cut the energy costs of the 50,000 computers they were installed on by 40%, translating to a 1.8 million dollar savings over one year. 1E's NightWatchman works with 1E's WakeUp to utilize a computer schedule to power up and down throughout the day. During non-business hours or when computers were not in use, they were powered off with the exception of an hour between 3 and 4 AM to install security updates. Automatic programs like these help companies with even 200 computers save energy and take a step towards sustainability and green-ness.

These technology leaders are not the only ones making strides, either, but with a bit more time and research, it seems to be that the IT industry will be right near the top of green industries.


Boyana Peeva

Believes that the glass is rather half-full and that nothing is bigger than the little things. Enjoys writing, reading, and sharing content – information is power.

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