Green IT or green computing generally refers to use of environmentally sustainable methods of computing or IT. As such green computing can be termed as not just the study and practice to design, manufacture, use, and disposal of a variety of computer hardware and associated subsystems such as monitors, storage devices, printers, and networking and communications systems and even servers with little or no impact on environment; but also recycling them once they are put out of use, or even creating systems that have low carbon signature. As such energy efficiency, promotion of recyclability, enhancing defunct product biodegradability, making energy-efficient computers, or designing algorithms and systems for efficiency-related computer technologies comes under Green IT.
Green IT originated from ‘Energy Star’ program started in 1992 by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a voluntary labeling program to promote energy-efficiency in computer monitors, climate control equipment, and others. With global warming and environmental change becoming big issue; computers plays an important part in many peoples lives can be used to promote green computing or green IT. Green IT is actually the study of how to minimize environmental impact of computers.Even the European Union has asked computer and accessory manufacturing companies to produce computers free of toxic materials and has made them responsible for taking back their obsolete products. In 2002 NEC made a computer using lead-free solder, a fully recyclable plastic case, with no toxic flame-retardants. As such in developed countries computer makers are moving towards manufacturing lead-free PCs. These companies are also offering their customers free recycling of their old computers.
Various governmental agencies across the world have since the last decade implemented standards and regulations that encourage green computing. Even the Energy Star program of the US government was revised in October 2006 bringing in stricter norms for disposal of variety of computer equipment. European Union has also issued relevant directives to manufacturers on reduction in of hazardous substances, and disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment. EU also issued a directive to substitute heavy metals and flame retardants like Polybrominated biphenyl and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in all electronic equipment from July 1, 2006 onwards. It also directed the manufacturers to gather and recycle old and obsolete computer equipment that have been disposed off. Likewise Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) was started in an effort to reduce electric power consumption of PCs in active and inactive state.
Green Grid is an initiative by a consortium of companies such as AMD, APC, Dell, SprayCool, Sun Microsystems, HP, IBM, Rackable Systems, Intel, Microsoft, and VMware promoting use of energy efficiency methods in data centers and business computing. Green Comm Challenge is an organization that promotes development of energy conservation technology and practices in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.
Need to Harness Green IT
Green IT solutions address the need for end user satisfaction with respect to use of computer and related system, concurrent regulatory compliance, and Return On Investment (ROI). The PC manufacturing process reportedly accounts for 70 % of natural resources used, so the main reason to go for green computing is to prolong a computers life; as manufacturing a new PC makes a far bigger ecological footprint than a new RAM module to upgrade an existing one. As computer usage increases, the need to make the computer an energy efficient device with reduced environmental impact has increased.
Energy Algorithms/ Terminal Server
Energy allocation algorithms that are used to route data through to data centers can help a company save up to 40% on energy costs. By routing traffic away from data centers that are experiencing warm weather; it allowed users to shut them down temporarily to avoid the need to use air conditioning to keep them cool. The concept of green computing is also useful in terminal servers where users of a terminal connect to a central server where all actual computing is done, but the user experiences the operating system on his/her terminal. All this reduces the amount of energy use by normal workstation by to 1/8 resulting in a decrease of energy costs and consumption.
ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface), allows an operating system to save power by turning off monitors, hard drives once the system remain inactive for sometime. If a system hibernates, most components including CPU and RAM are also turned off. Some programs through undervolting adjust voltages supplied to CPU thus reducing amount of heat produced and electricity consumed. Some CPUs allow automatic undervolt of the processor depending on the workload.
While manufacturing of a computer requires 1818 kw/h of electricity; running it computer requires 120 watts. If a computer is left idle all day or for a fairly long period a lot of electricity gets wasted. With most of electricity generated by burning fossil fuels which emit toxic pollutants like sulphur, and carbon dioxide into air that can cause respiratory diseases, as well as smog, acid rain and ultimately global climate change; its important to develop a system for optimum power management while using a computer system.
Operating System Support
All Microsoft Windows Operating Systems have limited PC power management features even if it required changes in underlying operating system architecture and new hardware driver model. However power management settings are designed keeping in mind per-user/per-machine binary registry values, effectively allowing users to configure their own power management settings. In Windows 7 prominence of default High Performance power plan has been reduced, encouraging users to save more power. Even 3rd-party PC power management software’s offer Active Directory integration and per-user/per-machine settings with more advanced offering multiple power plans, scheduled power plans, anti-insomnia features and enterprise power usage reporting.