The green movement touches many parts of our companies. More businesses are making the commitment to go green and reduce their carbon emissions. For many organisations, going green starts in their IT department.
Green IT and sustainable computing are not easy. Our computers and networks constantly require energy to function. However, there are ways for your company to go green. The environmental benefits of lowering carbon emissions can make a difference to the climate.
What is Green Computing?
At its most basic level, green computing is the responsible use of a computer that is more eco-friendly and environmentally responsible. Green computing is done by designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computing devices in a way that reduces their impact on the environment.
Green computing started in 1992 when the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) launched the Energy Star Program. Today, many computer manufacturers and vendors are investing heavily in designs that are more energy efficient, can be recycled, and reduce their environmental impact at their end of life.
According to the Journal of Cleaner Production[SV1] , electricity use by computer centres will increase from 2016 to 2040, accounting for more than 14% of all global emissions. What’s more, today, only a small amount of all consumed energy is being generated sustainably.
Globally, IT is responsible for about 2% to 3% of carbon emissions, which are the main cause of climate change. In addition, the digitization process is proceeding rapidly; as a result, there’s a high probability that the share of emissions generated by computing will also increase. For this reason, organisations are being urged to use devices and applications that are energy efficient.
Four Approaches to Promote Green Computing
There are basically four approaches to promoting green computing, including:
Green use: using computers and other computing devices in an eco-friendly manner to reduce electricity consumption.
Green disposal: recycling, repurposing, or appropriately disposing of unwanted computing devices.
Green design: is focused on designing energy-efficient computers, printers, servers, and other digital devices.
Green manufacturing: manufacturers concentrate on minimising waste during developing computers and other digital devices, ensuring minimal impact on the environment during manufacturing.
How Can Green Computing Be Supported?
Environmental and sustainability goals can only be achieved when manufacturers, vendors, and users work together to integrate green computing in their use of the devices each day.
Here are some measures used to support green computing:
- Developing resource-saving applications
- Ensuring there is energy and resource reduction during hardware manufacturing
- Practising fair work conditions during production
- Practising energy-saving disposal and recycling
- Using IT to reduce harmful emissions from other products
- Developing resource-saving software
- Reducing energy consumption in the use of IT
- Recycling and energy-saving disposal
- Avoiding unnecessary hard copies
How Companies Can Implement Green Computing
There are several ways that companies can use green computing to reach their environmental goals.
1. E-Waste Recycling
Recycling can start with materials that are non-biodegradable. These can cause immense harm to the environment. Recycling ensures these materials are not able to harm the environment, and they can be reused for other purposes.
E-waste in the office consists of devices that are no longer useful for the company or that don’t function properly. These products may be as small as a computer mouse or as large as industrial printers.
Unfortunately, many companies throw away devices that are damaged or obsolete, causing much harm to the environment. For these reasons, companies should search for e-waste recyclers to take care of digital waste.
2. Invest in Products That Have the European Energy Star Programme Label
Another way companies can implement green computing is by investing in devices that bear the European Energy Star label. Devices with this label are tested and shown to be more energy efficient than other devices. Not only that, but energy-saving devices last longer and are more sustainable.
3. Cloud Hosting
Storing applications in the cloud via certified computer centres saves more resources than saving all data on internal company servers. In many industries, cloud hosting is a better option than using their own servers.
One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is that businesses can function and use less energy. Green cloud computers take advantage of cloud technologies to do more work with less energy. It’s no longer necessary for a physical data centre, as the company’s data is stored in the cloud.
4. Develop Mobile Work Processes
When employees can bring their laptops home to work in a home office, businesses may want to consider developing mobile work processes. For instance, on-site meetings can be replaced with video conferences. While the technology doesn’t become greener, the way in which it’s used is better for the environment.
5. Encourage Sleep Mode
Who uses sleep mode? Not many employees use sleep mode at the office; however, they underestimate using sleep mode on device energy consumption. The amount of energy sleep mode saves isn’t immediate. Instead, this setting saves electricity gradually over time. After a year, the amount of energy saved can add up.
The standard computer consumes an average of 200 watts of energy. Using sleep mode, energy use falls to 8 watts. So, sleep mode effectively cuts computer energy use by about 96%.
The main problem is engaging employees to use sleep mode. For this reason, many companies have introduced the concept during the on-boarding process.
6. Use Power Strips
Energy consumption can also be further reduced through the use of power strips. Power strips make it easy to completely turn off the electric supply to computers and other devices used in the office.
Research has shown that power strips can reduce energy usage by 48%. The main issue with power strips is that they can be messy with cables. Otherwise, they can help reduce a company’s energy use and wastage.
Summing It Up
Implementing a green computing policy can be challenging; however, using the methods outlined in our article, your company can become more sustainable and save money on energy at the same time.
The process of a green computing program entails finding what works and makes sense for your business. Each business will have a unique method for developing its green computing policies.