Friday, December 7, 2007

Steps To Take Green Computing Seriously

As the demand for computing power soars, and businesses come under increasing pressure to introduce eco-friendly policies, Kate Craig-Wood of Memset, explains that by taking green computing seriously, you’ll be able to reduce your IT operating costs and benefit the environment at the same time.

The issue of green computing has been on the agenda for sometime, yet, many of us still don’t know exactly what it means and what it means for our business. Green computing simply involves monitoring and reducing your energy consumption. By using your computing resources efficiently, you’re able to address social responsibility, minimise environmental impact whilst also saving money in the process.

But surely SMEs don’t need to be worrying about this kind of thing? Actually, they do, as we can all do something to help. Recent research demonstrated that if the top 200 companies in the UK adopt greener, energy saving IT systems, they could save at least £305,000 per annum in electricity costs for desktops alone. Surely this is incentive enough to take a few hours to review the current energy consumption of your business?

IT EquipmentEach year more and more computers are purchased and put to use. But before you head out to make your next purchase, why not consider making use of what you have already? Hardly a crazy idea, as its one that most households follow after all.

But, if you do need to purchase new IT equipment – then buy smartly. Look for a manufacturer that, like Dell or HP, takes responsibility for its products throughout their lifecycle. The Energy Star rating just like those on refrigerators and washing machines, from July onwards will become standard on PC equipment demanding specs for energy efficiency of PCs and high-end CAD/CAM workstations, so look for the Energy Star when out shopping as well.

And if you do have old IT equipment – then recycle it! The UN's environmental programme estimates that 50 million tonnes of waste from discarded electronic goods is generated annually and, at the moment, much of this isn't being disposed of responsibly, but being swept under the carpet in the world's poorest countries.

We are now legally obliged to dispose of PC equipment properly, and that normally incurs charges. But, there is a free and simple, if underused, alternative; lots of people in the world are in dire need of our “outdated” computers, so donate them to the likes of

Whether you're a home user with a single PC or an IT manager looking after a thousand systems, the buying decisions you make and your computing habits can make a significant difference.

Energy Efficient Computing
But it’s not just the number of computers that is driving energy consumption upward, it’s the way that we use computers that also adds to the increasing energy burden.

A recent study by Fujitsu estimated that the UK alone wastes £123m on electricity powering PCs left on out-of-hours. Every time we leave computers or lights on we waste electricity. Burning fossil fuels generates most of our electricity and it also emits pollutants, sulphur, and carbon dioxide into the air. These emissions can cause respiratory disease, smog, acid rain and global climate change.

There are some simple changes you can make in your business to reduce your computer energy consumption by 80 percent or more whilst still retaining most or all productivity and other benefits of your computer system.

Finally, consider offsetting the ‘carbon footprint’ that your business generates by doing business. Things like travel, electricity usage and product manufacturing all generate greenhouse gases that contribute to your ‘carbon footprint’.

Organisations like the CarbonNeutral Company ( and the Carbon Trust ( can guide you through offsetting, and it is neither expensive nor difficult. Memset ( became the UK's first “carbon neutral” Web host last Summer and that has definitely helped us win more business. An average small office with 10 staff, for example, might have equivalent emissions of 20 tonnes CO2/year, which would probably only cost around £200/year to offset.

By using your computing resources more efficiently and helping to recycle your old equipment, you’ll not only help to reduce the UK’s rising power consumption, but save a little bit of money along the way.