What Is A Green Computer? An Introduction To Green Computing
A green computer, green computing technology, or green IT system is one where the
entire process from design, manufacture, use, and disposal involves as little environmental impact as possible
An Introduction To Green Computing
A green computer or green IT system is one where the design, manufacture, use, and
disposal involves as little environmental impact as possible. This means that a green initiative is taken in
consideration of all aspects of a computer’s life, from design to disposal.
In the design aspect, a green computer is created to operate without a negative environmental impact. Such design
includes everything from materials and components to how the computer utilizes its power supply. These days, many
desktop and laptop computers are manufactured with a sleep or hibernate mode that allows them to power down when
inactive and, therefore, save on energy impact.
A green computer will also take into account how it impacts the environment during its use. One way to reduce a
green computer’s usage impact is to extend its longevity. The longer a computer can last, the less impact it will
have on the environment because disposal, normally the most significant green influence of the computer’s cycle,
will be extended that much longer. To increase a computer’s longevity, one should look for upgrades and modularity.
For example, building a brand new computer has a much larger environmental effect than building a new RAM module
for replacement in that computer.
Virtualization of computers is helping to make large strides in green computing technology. Through the method of virtualization, it is now
possible to operate two or more computers on the physical hardware of a single computer. In this manner, you
could create the ultimate green computer; one that exists logically, but not physically. The logical units
access all the material components of the physical computer, but have no physical structure themselves. This
means that the environmental impact of logical computers is virtually eliminated. The perfect green computer,
therefore, may lie in virtual green computing.
Terminal servers can also be used to create a greener computer. When using a terminal server, you are centrally
connected to a terminal where all the computing is carried out. The operating system is experienced by the end user
on the terminal. These terminals can be matched up to thin clients who depend on the server to do most of their
computing. This kind of green computer can use as little as one eighth of the energy of a conventional
Some of the world's leading companies that engage in green computing by researching green technology, developing
energy efficient products, using sustainable materials, offering recycling programs, and marketing a greener look
and feel, include well-known brands such as:
For more information about which companies rank as the greenest in the world, check out
Greenpeace's Guide To Greener Electronics. The guide ranks the 18 top
manufacturers of personal computers, mobile phones, TVs and games consoles according to their policies on toxic
chemicals, recycling and climate change.
One of the main challenges to successful green computing is disposal. Many computers contain
harmful elements such as lead, mercury, and others. Safely recycling computer equipment has become of more and more
concern in recent years. It is a good idea to consider donating your old PC to a charity or having it re-purposed
for use in some other capacity.
Many times components from outdated computers can be salvaged through recycling centers. Perhaps, you can give your
old computer away to someone who doesn’t have one and would be happy for your used unit.
So, now you know that green computing can be created in many ways. Everything from your existing computer, with
modularity and upgrades, to virtual computers that exist only in logic, can become a green computer.
Green Home Computing For
Dummies - Learn how to assess your technology's green
factor and make small changes with big impact. You'll also
find tips for using technology in green ways and advice on
getting rid of old devices in an environmentally friendly
way. Learn what to buy, when to upgrade, where to find green
ideas, how to recycle technology responsibly and much
Are you running a green computer? You might think that a computer doesn't take much power. It's
just a little box. You might be surprised to learn that a desktop PC consumes 200 to 400 watts of power. Add a
30-inch monitor, and you add another 750 watts. A refrigerator only consumes around 725 watts. Surprised? Running a
green computer isn't just about power consumption. The EPA warns consumers that the short lifespan of the average
computer combined with the toxic chemicals used to construct parts means that the toxic effects of computer
disposal are extremely high.
80 Plus Power Supplies
The first way to run a green computer is to look for an 80 Plus compliant power supply. These
power supplies deliver only the power required to run. For example, if you have a 600-watt power supply but your
computer requires only 250 watts to function, an 80 Plus power supply will provide 250 watts.
Most conventional power supplies provide more power than a computer needs in order to run. This
wasted energy adds up to significant electrical bills, so using an energy-efficient 80 Plus power supply saves a
ton of money over the course of a year. As an added bonus, 80 Plus power supplies conform to the Restriction of
Hazardous Substances Directive and contain no lead. Other manufacturers are beginning to follow suit and release
green power supplies, so check the market often to see what's available.
Choose Lead-Free Components
Building a green computer is not just about choosing a green power supply. Lead and other toxic
chemicals are found in nearly all computer parts manufactured in the United States, although the European Union has
developed a set of regulations governing toxic materials in computer products. Intel released its first lead-free
microprocessors in late 2007, followed by lead-free Ethernet adaptors. Unfortunately, many of the other
manufacturers who provide computer parts to the United States have not yet followed suit, and it is still extremely
difficult to build an entirely lead-free computer.
Until manufacturers make the transition to lead-free components, running a green computer means
recycling the materials used in construction. Make sure you properly dispose of and recycle your lead parts.
Contact your local officials or waste-management specialists to find out about recycling computers and hazardous
waste disposal in your area. One great way to build a green computer is to buy refurbished or remanufactured parts
and components. Instead of going to waste, those products can go to you, the consumer, at a reduced cost. You get a
green computer and you save money, compared with the cost of buying new components.
Look for Green Manufacturers
With increasing calls for energy efficiency, many computer manufacturers now offer green
computers with energy-efficient power supplies and energy-saving components. Computer manufacturers that advertise
energy-efficient computers and laptops include Dell, Fujitsu, HP and Lenovo. Until lead-free components truly take
off in the United States, the most green computer you can get is an energy-efficient model from one of these
One easy way to green a computer is to use its built-in settings. Both Windows and Macintosh
computers include power-management features that prompt the computer, hard drive and monitor to go into a
low-energy sleep mode after a preset period of inactivity. For optimal energy efficiency, choose power-management
settings of 15 minutes of inactivity or less. When you move the mouse or press any key on the computer,
power-management mode is deactivated and the monitor, hard drive and computer are ready for use within a few
seconds. Look for this feature on monitors as well to maximize energy savings.
Going smaller is another good way to green a computer. Laptops use significantly less energy
than desktops; 40 to 50 watts compared with 200 to 400, respectively. A smaller flatscreen monitor also contributes
to a green computer, since energy consumption grows rapidly with monitor size.
Look for the Energy Star
The Energy Star program run by the US government provides guidelines for power consumption of
most electronics. To earn an Energy Star, a computer must offer the lowest power consumption available in sleep,
standby and full-use modes. For monitors, a formula based on screen size is used to determine power consumption,
but all qualifying monitors must use 2 watts of power or less in Sleep mode and 1 watt of power or less when turned
Looking for the Energy Star will help you choose a green computer and monitor, but you'll find a
limited number of choices available. Most of the current computers and monitors available aren't eligible for the
Energy Star, but manufacturers are working to lower power consumption. You may pay more up front for a green
computer, but the investment will pay for itself over time in energy savings and the knowledge that you're helping
to care for the environment.
It must be pointed out that recognizing the need to adopt green
IT is different from actually putting it into action. As of now, most companies,
whether big or small, still do not know where to start in green computing. Untold
amounts of studies have been conducted on making IT departments more
environmentally friendly. As a result, the whole IT industry is replete with
information on green strategies, many of which may even clash with other
So, here is a basic 10-step guide to help you develop a more
environment-friendly IT department in your company.
1. Proclaim your Green Intentions
For companies that are still confused as to where to start
implementing green IT, it is always best to begin by communicating intentions to
adopt an environmentally friendly IT infrastructure. The push for energy efficiency
should be cascaded down to EVERY member of your staff, setting the stage for
collaboration between various departments. When they learn about your initiatives,
they will know that everyone needs to be involved.
You will obviously gain many more ideas on how to transform IT
into a Green component of your organization. If you have already formulated a rough
plan for green computing, then it would also be wise to communicate an outline of
your plans and goals so that everyone will be able to do his or her part.
2. Appoint a Working Group to Ensure Compliance to Green
Now that you have set the ball rolling, you need to have a
committee that will monitor and ensure that the company's plans are adhered to by
all members of the organization. In this regard, it will be very advantageous to
make this team a part of the executive board to give it muscle when performing its
work. One of the most important tasks that your appointed green IT Team should
focus on is the acquisition of energy efficient IT infrastructure. This team must
make sure that your IT groundwork meets all the criteria that are set for the
protection of the environment.
3. Measure Current Carbon Footprints Produced by IT
You need to know where your company stands in terms of carbon
footprint brought about by your information technology services. Quickly establish
a carbon footprint reference point. Check the power usage in your IT center and
compare it with existing power efficiency standards and metrics for your
Don't just think desktops and servers when creating an
efficiency benchmark. Make it a point to also include factors like
air-conditioning, lighting, and recycling of IT peripherals. You can also get a
clearer picture of your overall IT carbon footprint if you determine carbon
emissions that may be brought about by purchasing or disposing of all related
items. You will use your benchmark in developing or fine-tuning your green IT goals
to make them more realistic and attainable.
4. Plan More Centralized IT Operations
It can be relatively easy for an organization to centralize its
information technology system. That's because virtualization has become widely
available. With server virtualization, carbon footprints can be significantly
Just imagine the amount of carbon emissions eliminated by
removing just 20 individual server CPUs in the office. You can even save more
cubicle space while implementing green IT.
5. Use More Efficient Computer Applications
The software that you use can significantly affect your green
computing initiatives. For instance, an employee needs to generate a report that
spans 5 fiscal years. Hours can be wasted just completing this simple report.
However, by using database software that allows the user to effectively customize
the parameters of the report and remove any unimportant detail, your employees can
finish any report in mere minutes.
By using more powerful computer applications, your IT system can
better deal with any inefficiency. Besides, faster software spares your company
servers from regularly operating at maximum capacity. This means lesser power
consumption for your main data center. If you can only increase the speed of the
computer applications that you use, you can have a corresponding positive effect on
your energy use and carbon emissions.
6. Use a More Power Efficient Cooling
Data centers and IT departments are known for big
energy-guzzling air conditioning systems. Servers need to be maintained in cool
temperature levels at all times. Your computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units
also ensure that air is efficiently distributed to prevent humidity from developing
in your network or data center. But the problem is that most CRACs available today
are designed to work for the entire floor area of data centers. Hence, they consume
more energy than necessary.
To reduce your CRAC power consumption for green computing, you
can invest in supplemental cooling systems that can be placed in between the rows
of servers in your data center. Such cooling systems can directly prevent excessive
heating in specific rows of servers. Thus, they can minimize the number of times in
a day that the bigger CRAC units are required to work on full power. Apply new
Data-Center design technology that minimizes hot-zones.
7. Carefully Weigh Lifecycle of IT Devices and
Now that the whole world is clamoring for more environmentally
friendly products, it is easy for any company to find IT devices and accessories
that are suitable for green computing. But before you jump in the bandwagon and
invest in the latest green IT products, you must first take into account the
projected lifecycle of your existing IT hardware. Can it be recycled? Will it decay
in time? If not, then disposing of your existing hardware can far outweigh the
environmental benefits that you intend to achieve by buying newer more
power-efficient computer hardware.
8. Make Sure Green IT Policies Enhance Business
By implementing green computing initiatives, you will become a
contributor to the bigger goal of saving the planet. But you must also consider the
needs of your business when putting environmentally friendly initiatives in action.
Make sure that your drive for a green IT fits in your overall business operation.
Better yet, ensure that environment-friendly IT and your business goals complement
each other. By doing so, you will be able to achieve both your green policies and
your bottom line goals.
9. Work with Everyone Involved in Your IT Process
Now that you have taken the steps to ensure that your company
uses green IT, you need to get everyone involved in your initiative. For your
employees, make sure that all of them are made accountable for their adherence to
green computing policies. Your human resources department can support your
initiatives by regularly posting announcements and notices that touch on the
subject of environment-friendly computing. Let everyone know about your goals and
the steps that needed to be taken to ensure that your organization maintains green
ways of using computer systems.
Make it a key point to engage software and hardware vendors and
gain insight from them on making your infrastructure safe for the environment. Ask
them for products that help you move toward a more Green IT environment.
10. Monitor Results and Continue Optimizing Your
Lastly, you should always check the results of your green IT
initiatives. Compare this data with the benchmarks and metrics that you have set
for your company. A good example is checking your total power consumption for each
month. If it has significantly dropped, then you can say that you have effectively
reduced your organization's carbon footprint. If you see that you have achieved
your goals, check your IT system to find more areas where you can improve
environmental friendliness. Never rest on your laurels, continue to optimize your
In the end, always remember that the way to a more efficient and
green computing does not have to entail huge investment costs on your part. Many
environmentally friendly steps are easy to implement and you do not even have to
wait for years to reap the benefits.
Green computing is a rising trend that looks to establish itself as the preferred IT philosophy
-- not because techies are tree-huggers, but because green solutions are affecting their bottom lines. Many
businesses today are asking the questions: "What is it?" and "Why is it so important to society?''
What is Green Computing?
Today, the term embodies the entire life cycle of technologies, including research,
manufacturing, use, and disposal. Green IT takes a much more holistic approach than it once did, especially as
companies are brainstorming solutions to cut costs and increase revenue.
Why is Green Computing Important?
Green computing benefits the environment. Reduced energy usage from green techniques translates
into lower carbon dioxide emissions, stemming from a reduction in the fossil fuel used in power plants and
transportation. Conserving resources means less energy is required to produce, use, and dispose of products. Put
simply, saving energy and resources saves money.
The advantages of green technology are realized on both large and small scales. Green
technologies are available for an entire organization or for a single employee's workstation. Unfortunately, many
companies and business owners are stalled by the initially larger investment in green technology, and fail to
realize the long-term benefits and cost savings. As such, let's examine adjustments that can be made regarding
green computing and IT support, big or small.
System-Wide Green Computing
When investigating green alternatives for your entire organization, consider technologies like
cloud computing. Basically, cloud computing eliminates the need for hardware like servers. Also known as
virtualization, cloud computing replaces hardware with "virtual" servers or servers in "the cloud." Essentially,
cloud computing allows companies to reduce their need for big, bulky, energy-consuming servers by relocating them
on the Internet. Cloud computing may also be used in areas like networking, data storage, software applications,
and operating systems, again, potentially reducing the need for hardware. As a result, businesses stand to save a
lot of time, money, and resources on maintenance and support by switching to cloud computing set-ups.
Individual Green Computing
There are many other techniques at the personal computer level. For instance, power management can be an easy and
effective means of saving green while conserving energy. While many operating systems come with power-saving
settings, there are also a variety of products that monitor and adjust energy levels to increase performance and
reduce wasted energy. For instance, some surge protectors can sense when a master component (like a computer) is
turned off, and respond by cutting off power to any peripheral machines, such as like printers and scanners.
System-Wide and Individual Green Computing
Finally, green computing initiatives can reap savings in both big and small ways. Technologies
that save paper, like email, can have a huge impact on costs as well as the environment. As companies and employees
develop methods and habits of conservation, simple practices like emailing memos or printing in smaller fonts can
bring instant results. Additionally, policies like telecommuting or teleconferences pose additional benefits by
reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced by travel.
Green IT is quickly emerging as the most effective means of utilizing technology. No matter
whether your organization's needs are big or small, green IT can reduce costs, increase productivity, and even do
something good for the environment.
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