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Google and Intel found computer energy efficiency initiative

By Kenneth Barbalace
[Wednesday, June 13, 2007]
Google and Intel have founded the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, which stated goal is to reduce computer energy consumption 50% by 2010. According to the initiative, this would reduce computer caused greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons annually by 2010. If successful, this is the equivalent of removing 11 million cars from the road or shutting down twenty 500 megawatt coal fired power plants and could save $5.5 billion dollars in energy costs annually.

The energy efficiency standards being set by the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) exceed standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's voluntary Energy Star program. As an example, while the Energy Star program requires computer power supplies to be 80% efficient, the CSCI's standards will call for power supplies in personal computers to be 90% efficient and server power supplies to be 92% efficient by 2010.

What many people don't realize is just how much electricity a typical non-Energy Star rated desk top computer can waste. The typical computer wastes over half of the electricity it consumes with the power supply being one of its biggest offenders. A laptop computer consumes a lot less electricity than a desk top computer, but there is still massive room for improvement. Buying an energy efficient computer may be more expensive right now (about $20 on average), however, the added cost is expected to disappear in time and the energy savings will more than make up for the added purchase cost fairly quickly.

So the next time you go to buy a computer, make sure it is an Energy Star computer and make sure to purchase it from a Climate Savers Computing Initiative member (which many of the major computer makers are). You will not only be doing something good for the environment, but will be keeping extra money in your wallet.

In addition to buying an Energy Star rated computer, other ways you can reduce the power your computer consumes include:
  • turning it off when it is not needed or at least sending it into sleep or hibernation mode;
  • setting the monitor to turn off automatically when the computer has been idle for five or ten minutes rather than using a screensaver will save electricity and wear on your monitor;
  • using power management to turn off hard drives when computer is inactive;
  • purchasing flat screen monitors rather than traditional CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors will save electricity and reduce the amount of hazardous materials (e.g. lead, mercury, etc.) that have to be disposed of at the end of the monitor's lifecycle.

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Tom said...

Good idea setting up energy saving - but how about beginning at home with a black background for google pages. http://www.tiptheplanet.com/index.php?title=Desktop_Computers_and_Monitors - White backgrounds use 20% more energy than dark backgrounds (US Department of Energy).


Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

I did not know that about the screen background thing, but it makes sense. In regards to the suggestions on your page, another trick web developers can do is use CSS to make sure their pages are printer friendly. Sometimes users want to print out and save a webpage they are looking at. Using CSS one can turn off the stuff that is nothing but detritus on the printed page (e.g. menus and ads) and reformat the page to more print more efficiently, thereby saving paper. You can look at this page in "print preview" for an example of what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

"The typical computer wastes over half of the electricity it consumes with the power supply being one of its biggest offenders."

This is a serious problem, especially considering how many PCs are in use today. I'm glad to see that Google, Intel, and the rest of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative are beginning to do something about this. But some American cities, such as Boston, have already beat them to it.

Thanks to the recent efforts of Boston's current administration, Boston is now on the cutting edge of environmentally-friendly technology, setting a national example for early adoption of bold new environmental trends.

Most recently, in February of 2007, the city installed Verdiem's surveyor software on all PCs at Boston City Hill, and it has already reduced PC energy use by an average of 44 per cent. It is saving an average of 180 kWh of electricity or about $25 per PC annually through centrally managing the sleep, shut down and wake cycles. Essentially, this program simply places the PCs into lower power settings when they're not in use, like when you go to lunch, a meeting or even home for the evening. Based on its existing customer base, annual use of Verdiem technology reduces greenhouse gas emissions at a rate equal to taking more than 8,000 passenger cars off the road for an entire year, or conserving 4,317,988 gallons of gasoline.

Bill Oates, Boston's CIO, said the software only cost the city $25 for each PC licence, and based on projections, it will save the city $25 per PC annually. 'So we believe that after the first year we will have covered the cost of the licence,' Oates said. After that, 'we'll save about $30,000 annually.'

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