Green computing

Green computing

Green computing is the study and practice of using computing resources efficiently. The primary objective of such a program is to account for the triple bottom line, an expanded spectrum of values and criteria for measuring organizational (and societal) success. The goals are similar to green chemistry; reduce the use of hazardous materials, maximize energy efficiency during the product's lifetime, and promote recyclability or biodegradability of defunct products and factory waste.

Modern IT systems rely upon a complicated mix of people, networks and hardware; as such, a green computing initiative must be systemic in nature, and address increasingly sophisticated problems. Elements of such as solution may comprise items such as end user satisfaction, management restructuring, regulatory compliance, disposal of electronic waste, telecommuting, virtualization of server resources, energy use, thin client solutions, and return on investment (ROI).


In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched Energy Star, a voluntary labeling program which is designed to promote and recognize energy-efficiency in monitors, climate control equipment, and other technologies. This resulted in the widespread adoption of sleep mode among consumer electronics. The term "green computing" was probably coined shortly after the Energy Star program began; there are several USENET posts dating back to 1992 which use the term in this manner. [Cite newsgroup |title=leaving it on? |newsgroup=comp.misc |accessdate=2007-11-11 |date=1992-11-20 |url=] Concurrently, the Swedish organization TCO Development launched the TCO Certification program to promote low magnetic and electrical emissions from CRT-based computer displays; this program was later expanded to include criteria on energy consumption, ergonomics, and the use of hazardous materials in construction. [Cite article | title=TCO takes the initiative in comparative product testing |accessdate=2008-05-03 |date=2008-05-03 |url=]

Regulations and industry initiatives


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, along with a tiered ranking system for approved products. [cite web |title=EPA Announces New Computer Efficiency Requirements |date=2006-10-23 |url=!OpenDocument |last=Jones |first=Ernesta |publisher=U.S. EPA |accessdate=2007-09-18] [cite web |url=,1759,2097558,00.asp |title=How Important Will New Energy Star Be for PC Makers? |last=Gardiner |first=Bryan |date=2007-02-22 |publisher=PC Magazine |accessdate=2007-09-18] The European Union's directives 2002/95/EC (RoHS), on the reduction of hazardous substances, and 2002/96/EC (WEEE) on waste electrical and electronic equipment required the substitution of heavy metals and flame retardants like PBBs and PBDEs in all electronic equipment put on the market starting on July 1 2006. The directives placed responsibility on manufacturers for the gathering and recycling of old equipment (the Producer Responsibility model).Fact|date=May 2008

There are currently 26 US States that have established state-wide recycling programs for obsolete computers and consumer electronics equipment [Cite web |url= |title= State Legislation on E-Waste |date=2008-03-20 |publisher=Electronics Take Back Coalition |accessdate=2008-03-08 ] . The statutes either impose a fee for each unit sold at retail (Advance Recovery Fee model), or require the manufacturers to reclaim the equipment at disposal (Producer Responsibility model).


* Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) is an effort to reduce the electric power consumption of PCs in active and inactive states.Cite press release |url= |title=Intel and Google Join with Dell, EDS, EPA, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, PG&E, World Wildlife Fund and Others to Launch Climate Savers Computing Initiative |publisher=Business Wire |date=2007-06-12 |accessdate=2007-12-11] The CSCI provides a catalog of green products from its member organizations, and information for reducing PC power consumption. It was started on 2007-06-12. The name stems from the World Wildlife Fund's Climate Savers program, which was launched in 1999. [Cite web |url= |title=What exactly is the Climate Savers Computing Initiative? |publisher=Climate Savers Computing Initiative |date=2007 |accessdate=2007-12-11] The WWF is also a member of the Computing Initiative.

* Green Computing Impact Organization, Inc. (GCIO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting the end-users of computing products in being environmentally responsible. This mission is accomplished through educational events, cooperative programs and subsidized auditing services. The heart of the group is based on the GCIO Cooperative, a community of environmentally concerned IT leaders who pool their time, resources, and buying power to educate, broaden the use, and improve the efficiency of, green computing products and services. Members work to increase the ROI of green computing products through a more thorough understanding of real measurable and sustainable savings incurred by peers; enforcing a greater drive toward efficiency of vendor products by keeping a community accounting of savings generated; and through group negotiation power.

* [ Green Electronics Council] -- The Green Electronics Council offers the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) to assist in the purchase of "green" computing systems. The Council evaluates computing equipment on 28 criteria that measure a product's efficiency and sustainability attributes. On 2007-01-24, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13423, which requires all United States Federal agencies to use EPEAT when purchasing computer systems. [cite press release |url= |title=President Bush Requires Federal Agencies to Buy EPEAT Registered Green Electronic Products |publisher=Green Electronics Council |date=2007-01-24 |accessdate=2007-09-20 |format=PDF] [cite press release |url= |title=Executive Order: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management |publisher=The White House: Office of the Press Secretary |date=2007-01-24 |accessdate=2007-09-20]

* The Green Grid is a global consortium dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in data centers and business computing ecosystems. It was founded in February 2007 by several key companies in the industry – AMD, APC, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Rackable Systems, SprayCool, Sun Microsystems and VMware. The Green Grid has since grown to hundreds of members, including end users and government organizations, all focused on improving data center efficiency.

Approaches to green computing


Computer virtualization is 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. 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.

Power management

The Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI), an open industry standard, allows an operating system to directly control the power saving aspects of its underlying hardware. This allows a system to automatically turn off components such as monitors and hard drives after set periods of inactivity. In addition, a system may hibernate, where most components (including the CPU and the system RAM) are turned off. ACPI is a successor to an earlier Intel-Microsoft standard called Advanced Power Management, which allows a computer's BIOS to control power management functions.Fact|date=May 2008 Some programs allow the user to manually adjust the voltages supplied to the CPU, which reduces both the amount of heat produced and electricity consumed. This process is called undervolting. Some CPUs can automatically undervolt the processor depending on the workload; this technology is called "SpeedStep" on Intel processors, "PowerNow!"/"Cool'n'Quiet" on AMD chips, LongHaul on VIA CPUs, and LongRun with Transmeta processors.

Power supply

Desktop computer power supplies (PSUs) are generally 70–75% efficient [cite web |url= |title=Strong Showing: High-Performance Power Supply Units |last=Schuhmann |first=Daniel |date=2005-02-28 |accessdate=2007-09-18 |publisher=Tom's Hardware] , dissipating the remaining energy as heat. An industry initiative called 80 PLUS certifies PSUs that are at least 80% efficient; typically these models are drop-in replacements for older, less efficient PSUs of the same form factor. [80 PLUS] As of July 20 2007, all new Energy Star 4.0-certified desktop PSUs must be at least 80% efficient. [cite web |url= |title=Computer Key Product Criteria |publisher=Energy Star |accessdate=2007-09-17 |date=2007-07-20]


Smaller form factor (e.g. 2.5 inch) hard disk drives often consume less power than physically larger drives. [cite web| title=IS the Silent PC Future 2.5-inches wide?|url=|accessdate=2008-08-02|author=Mike Chin|date=8 March 2004] [cite web| url=|title=Recommended Hard Drives|accessdate=2008-08-02|author=Mike Chin|date=2002-09-18]

Unlike hard disk drives, solid-state drives store data in flash memory or DRAM. With no moving parts, power consumption may be reduced somewhat for low capacity flash based devices. [ [ Super Talent's 2.5" IDE Flash hard drive - The Tech Report - Page 13 ] ] [ [,1324-5.html Power Consumption - Tom's Hardware : Conventional Hard Drive Obsoletism? Samsung's 32 GB Flash Drive Previewed ] ] Even at modest sizes, DRAM based SSDs may use more power than hard disks, (e.g., 4GB i-RAM uses more power and space than laptop drives). Flash based drives are generally slower for writing than hard disks.cite web | title = SSD, i-RAM and Traditional Hard Disk Drives | date = 04/23/2008 | url =| author = Aleksey Meyev| media = X-bit labs]

Video Card

A fast GPU may be the largest power consumer in a computer. [ X-bit labs: Faster, Quieter, Lower: Power Consumption and Noise Level of Contemporary Graphics Cards]

Energy efficient display options include:
* No video card - use a shared terminal, shared thin client, or desktop sharing software if display required.
* Use motherboard video output - typically low 3D performance and low power.
* Reuse an older video card that uses little power; many do not require heatsinks or fans.
* Select a GPU based on average wattage or performance per watt.


LCD monitors typically use a cold-cathode fluorescent bulb to provide light for the display. Some newer displays use an array of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in place of the fluorescent bulb, which reduces the amount of electricity used by the display. [cite web |url= |title=Cree LED Backlight Solution Lowers Power Consumption of LCD Displays |date=2005-05-23 |accessdate=2007-09-17]

Materials recycling

Computer systems that have outlived their particular function can be repurposed, or donated to various charities and non-profit organizations [ [ Reuse your electronics through donation » Earth 911 ] ] . However, many charities have recently imposed minimum system requirements for donated equipment. [citation |journal=PC Magazine |volume=26 |issue=17 |date=2007-09-04 |title=15 Ways to Reinvent Your PC |last=Delaney |first=John |url=,1895,2170255,00.asp] Additionally, parts from outdated systems may be salvaged and recycled through certain retail outlets [cite web |url= |title=Staples Launches Nationwide Computer and Office Technology Recycling Program |date=2007-05-21 |accessdate=2007-09-17 |publisher=Staples, Inc.] [cite web |url= |title=Goodwill Teams with Electronic Recyclers to Recycle eWaste |date=2007-08-15 |accessdate=2007-09-17 |publisher=Earth 911] and municipal or private recycling centers.

Recycling computing equipment can keep harmful materials such as lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium out of landfills, but often computers gathered through recycling drives are shipped to developing countries where environmental standards are less strict than in North America and Europe [Cite journal |title=Green Tech: Reduce, Reuse, That's It |last=Segan |first=Sascha |journal=PC Magazine |url=,2704,2183977,00.asp |volume=26 |issue=19 |pages=56 |date=2007-10-02 |accessdate=2007-11-07] . The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition estimates that 80% of the post-consumer e-waste collected for recycling is shipped abroad to countries such as China, India, and Pakistan. [Cite book |title=Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash |last=Royte |first=Elizabeth |pages=169-170 |date=2006 |publisher=Back Bay Books |isbn=0-316-73826-3]

Computing supplies, such as printer cartridges, paper, and batteries may be recycled as well. [ Refilled ink cartridges, paper recycling, battery recycling]


Teleconferencing and telepresence technologies are often implemented in green computing initiatives. The advantages are many; increased worker satisfaction, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions related to travel, and increased profit margins as a result of lower overhead costs for office space, heat, lighting, etc. The savings are significant; the average annual energy consumption for U.S. office buildings is over 23 kilowatt hours per square foot, with heat, air conditioning and lighting accounting for 70% of all energy consumed. [cite web |url= |title=EPA Office Building Energy Use Profile |date=2007-08-15 |accessdate=2008-03-17 |publisher=EPA] Other related initiatives, such as hotelling, reduce the [ square footage per employee] as workers reserve space only when they need it. Many types of jobs -- sales, consulting, field service -- integrate well with this technique.

Voice over IP (VoIP) reduces the telephony wiring infrastructure by sharing the existing Ethernet copper (a toxic metal). VoIP and phone extension mobility also made Hot desking and more practical.

ee also

* Green energy
* Minimalism (computing)
* Performance per watt
* Standby power
* Thin client


External links

* [,1000000323,39363065,00.htm Low-power computing: a tech guide]
* [,1000001462,,00.htm Green IT Toolkit]

How-to articles

* [ Sun Eco Initiative] - Sun Microsystems
* [ Build a Green Datacenter] - Microsoft TechNet
* [ Energy efficiency for the enterprise] - Hewlett Packard Company


* [ Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool] (EPEAT)
* [ The European RoHS-WEEE directive]


* [ SusiClimate] - a free Mac OS X application which calculates the PC's current CO2 emissions in realtime.
* PowerTOP - a free utility for Linux which measures a PC's power consumption.


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