Normally desktop Power Supply Units (PSUs) are efficient enough to save 70–75% energy and dissipate remaining energy as heat; while some save upto 80%. Storage systems like small sized hard disks consume less power than larger hard drives. Solid-state drives that store data in flash memory can reduce power consumption further. As hard drive store more data available online this has increased power consumption, however use of large storage arrays can bring down power consumption.
CRT monitors that contain significant amounts of lead use more power than LCD monitors that use a cold-cathode fluorescent bulb to provide light for display. As such CRT monitors are increasingly being replaced by LCD monitors. Now some newer displays use Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) instead of fluorescent bulbs that contain mercury further reduces power consumption as well as carbon signature.
E-Waste Recycling and Associated Problems
Disposal of electronic waste is a global problem. As electronics systems become obsolete quickly, managing the huge amount of toxic materials such as heavy metals and flame-retardant plastics and gases and chemicals present in micro-chips, which can easily seep into the ground and mix with water and bio-accumulate is a problem.With millions of computer systems being in use around the world, problem of plenty has arisen and as such recycling defunct computer systems has become a big issue, most of which have hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, chromium. Recycling electronic-waste or e-waste is a problem that is being faced throughout the world. Though some have been used in landfills, but in reality recycling them is a good option. With many companies going for upgrading their existing systems with newer and better performing systems, instead of dumping the older systems into landfills donating them to various charities and non-profit organizations is a better idea. Recycling the computer accessories such as printer cartridges, paper, and batteries is also possible.
However stricter computers recycling procedure and norms in North America and Europe have resulted in most outdated systems and accessories being shipped to developing countries like India, China and Pakistan where environmental norms are far less strict. In all average 24 million computers in the US become obsolete but less than 1/5th of these are recycled or donated; while the rest are dumped in landfills, or shipped as waste exports in developing countries where end up are at risk of being exposed to traces of toxic but valuable metals like gold. Another problem plaguing the recycling of computer systems is that some old devices still hold sensitive information such as emails, passwords and credit card numbers of previous users which can be retrieved by anyone using a specific retrieval software freely available on internet. Even information cant be removed completely from hard drive, as such physically destroying them or storing them at a safe place is a better idea.
The best and the useful advantage of IT is that work can be executed by using teleconferencing or telecommuting technologies. These technologies not only allow employees to work flexi-time but also allow them to work from home thus helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in relation to travel by automobile, and not to mention increase in profit margins for due to lower overhead costs in relation to maintaining a office space, and providing all types of related services and facilities like heat, lighting, fitness area, food, transport, entertainment and others. Using Voice over IP (VoIP) also helps reduce the telephony wiring infrastructure as Ethernet copper gets shared resulting in better usage and less pollution.
Paper Less Office
The concept of Green IT takes global warning into account, as such IT businesses are taking steps to reduce their impact on the environment and going green by taking steps to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, paper/computer waste generation and biodegradable and non biodegradable waste. However the biggest waste output from any IT office or as matter of fact from any office is waste paper. Its estimated that a average office worker produces 1.5 pounds of waste paper/day. As the sale of office paper continues to climb efforts are on to transfer paperwork as much as possible to hard disk, CDs, floppy drives, pen drives, cassettes, video and others. To reduce the number of unnecessary print outs, a networked printer in a central location is enough to cut down paper consumption drastically as well as eliminate maintenance costs.
Also upgrading the office communication systems to electronic reduces the need for paper being printed and circulated for use. Also reusing paper that doesn’t contain sensitive information or making use of scratch pads reduces need for additional paper. Memo pads help cut use of paper at office. Reuse of inevitable waste paper generated at work including mail, envelopes, newspaper, magazine, retired files also helps in increasing the green footprint of an IT office. Though using recycled paper is an option, it must be done taking into account the proper disposal of private information or anything that personally identifies an employee. An easier solution to combine security with recycling is paper shredding service that not only recycles paper at office but also negates privacy problem. Also buying only recycled paper for office use reduces the carbon footprint of a office by 5 pounds per ream. It also results in considerably reducing water pollution, energy consumption and air pollution.
Future of Green IT
Green IT is all about developing new methodologies to extract as much as possible from existing/obsolete computer systems. Userful Inc., a Canadian company, developed a desktop system DiscoverStation that leverages unused power of old PC to create an environmentally efficient desktop computing system that allows up to 10 users to work on single computer by simply attaching up to 10 monitors, mouse and keyboards. This reduces CO2 emissions by 15 tons per year per system and also reduces electronic waste generation by 80%. Userful said its desktop software saved over 13,250 tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent of taking 2,300 cars off the road in 2009.
Green IT promotion can be done by following some simple steps such as
- Not using screen savers.
- Buying computers & monitors labeled ‘Energy Star’ which can be programmed to automatically "power-down" or "sleep" when not in use.
- Turn off the computer and its peripherals off when not in use.
- Use flat panel monitors that consume 50% electricity of what a Cathode-Ray Tube (CRT) display does.
- Use ink jet printers instead of laser printers; as they use 80-90% less power than laser printers but still deliver better print outs.