Article

A Green Future With Green IT

21 July 2017 | About a 3 minute read
Tags: carbon footprint, computer, eco-friendly, Energy, environment, green, information technology, IT, sustainability, tech


With growing awareness about sustainability – organisations, societies and the government are moving into adopting sound practices and regulations to reduce their carbon footprint and be more environmentally friendly. Over the years, IT has fundamentally transformed our work and life, improving our efficiency, economy and social well-being. Now it has to play a new role – helping to create a greener, more sustainable environment and at the same time, maintain economic benefits, therefore, the concept of green IT.

IT has been a major contributor of environmental problems which most of us do not realise. Computers and other IT infrastructure consume significant electricity, with an increasing trend and putting a significant burden on the electrical grids, in turn contributing to ~2% of CO2 emissions – the same as aviation. Additionally, the hardware associated with it, such as computers, mobile phones, servers etc. involves production and disposal processes which are not currently eco-friendly. According to a UN report, production of a desktop PC consumes 240 kg of fossil fuel, 22 kg of chemicals and 1.5 tonnes of water. Also consumers discard old computers and electronic equipment every couple of years which end up in landfills, therefore polluting the environment. All these negative impacts are adding up to climate change and human health risks.

Whilst it is part of the problem, it can be seen as a saviour too. The power of IT, if exploited in innovative ways can address the environmental issues by being more green. Green IT is also known as a green computing. It is a practice of designing, manufacturing and using computers, servers, monitors, printers, storage devices, networking and communication systems in efficient way and effective way. Green IT can reduce the impact on the environment to potentially zero by following ways:

 

Firstly, green IT incorporates practices which reduce energy consumption to ensure reduced CO2 emissions, which means;

  • Buying energy efficient computers and hardware appropriate for the job. For example; a 17” monitor uses 40% less power than a 19” monitor  
  • Turning off computers when not in use
  • Print smarter – to avoid excess paper and electricity use
  • Server virtualisation or cloud computing to efficiently use resources including energy
  • Energy efficient coding or code green, for example; reducing the number of instructions and unrolling loops to improve computational efficiency to minimise energy consumption.

 

Secondly, the three R’s of green IT – Reuse, Refurbish and Recycle. Rather than throwing away the unwanted hardware, hardware can be refurbished and reused or disposed of in eco-friendly ways, such as handing over to electronic recyclers. Therefore, this reduces toxic materials such as lead and mercury from water, air and the land.

 

Thirdly, using IT to drive green practices which are eco-friendly such as:

  • Reducing the need for people to travel by incorporating options such as working from home as well as video conferencing to avoid long distance travel
  • Using navigation devices while driving
  • Automating equipment maintenance schedules and many more

 

No doubt we all have come across the risks and impacts of the damage to environment due to carbon emissions and toxic releases, so we being part of this big IT community should definitely contribute our bit to the green movement by following green practices.

 

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