Business Administration Education Guide

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Green Geek

In December of 2006, Congress passed a law requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to put together a report regarding power consumption in information technology data centers by mid 2007. The goal of the report was to outline potential incentives and voluntary programs that would promote energy-efficient computer servers and data centers. In other words, Congress wants corporations to go Green with environmentally friendly technology.

In July 2007, the government will launch the upgraded Energy Star 4.0 standards, which is a tougher rating system that will help users measure their computer’s energy efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency says the upgrade will prevent the same amount of ozone-depleting greenhouse gases that is annually released by 2.7 million cars. In addition, Energy Star 4.0 will also help companies lower their electric bills-by enough to light 730 million square feet of U.S. commercial building space each year, according to the EPA.

Energy Star who has been labeled as Uncle Sam's green seal of approval for computers and is currently working on Green technology. Project leaders says that it’s a very real possibility that companies may soon face environmental legislation that would essentially tax data-center costs. That could be bad news for companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google that have recently built massive new data centers to meet demand for web-based software and services.

One of the motivations in promoting Green technology is the money that can be saved by reducing electric bills. But meeting the new standard won't be easy. Only one in four current computers will measure up to the upcoming 4.0. The current 3.0 rating requires machines to use 15 watts or less while in ’Sleep’ mode. Under the new version, computers must not consume more than 4 watts of power in ‘Sleep’ mode. The new grade also takes into consideration how much power a computer uses when it's in active use.

While the new standards may seem annoying, the information highway’s fast-growing power consumption has already been forcing companies to adopt green energy practices. Technology experts say the power consumption of data centers doubles every five years or so, making them one of the fastest-growing leeches of energy in the U.S.

"The IT industry is where the automotive industry was 20 years ago," says Rakesh Kumar, research vice-president at consulting firm Gartner (IT). "We are so backwards when it comes to using alternative-energy and energy-efficient technologies."

Green light for Green technology

On May 10, 2007 IBM took the LED spotlight with their plans to invest $1 billion a year in products and services that will help reduce IT power consumption in data centers while doubling the computing capacity of its data centers. A hefty goal that other IT companies such as HP is also committing to.

Soaring electric bills for power-hungry data centers has companies creating energy-efficient products such as chips, desktop computers and servers. Last year, an industry consortium of IT companies called the Green Grid was formed to address the growing problem of power consumption in data centers.

"We're seeing a growing crisis in the amount of power consumption taking place with the natural growth of computing power it takes to run our daily lives," says Bruce Shaw, a board member of the Green Grid and director of worldwide commercial and enterprise marketing at AMD.

In mid-May of 2007 85% of the surveyed executives conducted by Forrester Research, showed that environmental concerns were deemed ‘important’. However, only about one-fourth of the companies said they had a policy for considering green criteria when it comes to making purchases. Corporate buyers place money savings as the top priority versus environmental friendliness. Conversely, the new IT products will help save both energy and money.

Green technology can mean anything from the way vendors design and manufacture products to how efficiently those products operate to the ease of recycling them.

One small data center in Romoland, Calif., has figured out how to run on only alternative energy. "We use no electricity from the power grid," says Phil Nail, chief technology officer of Web hosting company The company operates its 2,000-square-foot data center with solar energy captured via ground-mounted solar panels. But right now alternative energy is not a viable option in most cases… not yet.

Green PCs

HP Compaq dc7700 Convertible Minitower PC
Watts in Sleep Mode: 2.34

HP Compaq dc5700 Microtower PC
Watts in Sleep Mode: 2.60

Dell OptiPlex Model #745 Mini Tower
Watts in Sleep Mode: 2.66

Tech Networks of Boston
Watts in Sleep Mode: 2.66

ClientPro 434
Watts in Sleep Mode: 2.70


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