As companies continue to turn to technology to improve their processes, there has been a massive increase in the amount of data which is stored and processed. This means that data centres especially can often use up a considerable amount of electricity. Action needs to be taken if computing companies are going to help avoid climate change becoming an ever-increasing problem, which is where green computing comes in.

The term green computing is often thrown around without much explanation, meaning that it can be hard to understand exactly what it means. Throughout this handy industry guide, the experts here at Binary Blue will explain exactly what green computing is and how it benefits the environment, as well as some key cost figures and business benefits to the growing movement. Keep reading to learn more!

What is Green Computing?

According to IBM, ‘green computing’ refers to any computer system that is designed with the environment in mind. This could be anything from using an energy-saving power supply or keeping track of how much energy a particular component uses, such as the CPU. Researchers at IBM are constantly looking for ways in which they can improve their systems so that they are more efficient, whether it be with regards to the actual hardware design or the energy required for them to run.

The company is committed to ensuring that all of its research projects are environmentally friendly and have a positive impact on the world around us. IBM have also announced their goal to achieve 90% renewable energy sources for their electricity by 2030. With many environmentalists beginning to realise the significance of information technology in today’s world, there are now a number of projects which not only aim to make data centres more efficient but make them greener as well.

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How Does Green Computing Benefit the Environment?

Greening of technology has a potential role to play in enhancing environmental sustainability by making the entire product life cycle of technologies and products greener, including research, manufacturing, use and disposal. 

4 Key Ways Green Computing Can Benefit The Environment

  1. Green computing could benefit the environment by reducing energy usage in data centers and other areas where high-powered servers are used. 
  2. This would help reduce air pollution from power plants that generate electricity to support these servers and offices with multiple computers. 
  3. This report by Forrester Consulting also concluded that reducing energy usage could deliver substantial company savings.
  4. The technologies that underpin green computing could reduce energy use through virtualisation, consolidation and storage management, among other things.

The Business Implications of Green Computing

One of the biggest advantages of green computing is that by using more energy-efficient components and ensuring that systems are not running at maximum capacity all of the time, companies can save a large amount of money. This is because more efficient hardware does not need to be replaced as often, and it could also mean that extra processing power is available rather than having to buy new equipment.

Data centres are a key part of bigger IT organisations, which means that the IT department has the power to make changes that could potentially drastically cut costs and save energy. According to Greenpeace’s Click Clean Report 2012 businesses can see major cost savings by implementing green practices into their data centres, for example ‘green cooling’. 

Diagram of the air economisation (free cooling) system at the new Microsoft data center in Dublin, Ireland. Source.

One area where many companies have yet to make a significant difference is with regards to their employees’ computers. By giving staff laptops which are energy efficient it could be possible to ensure that they use less power at home, and by using their computer’s idle time to carry out tasks which require more processing power it would mean cutting back on the amount of hardware needed within data centres. This is where green computing comes in; if implemented properly then not only will it benefit both the environment and the company, but it could lead to more efficient working practices as well.

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Features of Green Computing

Green Design

Green design is, conceptually, a range of different design innovations that have the same aim: to improve the environment. One way this can be done is by redesigning a product so that it has a smaller environmental footprint than what was available before. Another way is to redesign how products are used so their impact on the environment can be reduced even further. In computing, this means the design of energy-efficient computers, printers, projectors, servers and other digital devices.

Green Manufacturing

Green manufacturing is manufacturing that reduces the negative impact on the environment. This can be done by creating greener products, recycling and/or reusing waste, and reducing pollution — to name a few ways. Green design can be achieved by using fewer harmful chemicals, materials and technologies in production processes, as well as reducing the number of hazardous substances used in a product’s manufacturing. 

There has been a rise in green manufacturing efforts throughout the world in recent years because of growing concerns over environmental degradation and resource depletion. Manufacturers are starting to realise that, by being more environmentally friendly, they can reduce operational costs and improve efficiency.

Green Use

Green use in computing relates to minimising the electricity consumption of computers and other digital devices. Green use also includes implementing ways of running these devices in an eco-friendly manner. Green use is the use of equipment that has a minimal impact on the environment. Generally, green use in computing is all about maximising efficiencies in electricity use, heat generation and even noise production – or minimising them to be precise. Businesses can work towards this by employing and using eco-friendly IT services.

Green Disposal

Green disposal refers to the repurposing of existing equipment or the appropriate disposal and recycling of unwanted electronic equipment. If implemented in a sensible manner, this can reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint, save money and keep valuable materials from being landfilled. It also helps people give something back to their community by providing opportunities for charity organisations to reuse materials that would otherwise be thrown away.

The green disposal concept takes the idea of recycling one step further by not only recycling waste but also reusing it for other purposes. This means that waste is broken down into its constituent components and reused in some new form.

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