Intel announced on Wednesday that it's putting up around $10m in investment in five clean technology companies in the US and Ireland. The investments include:
- First-time investment in US-based CPower (demand response and energy efficiency)
- Ireland-based Powervation (digital power control)
- US-based Convey Computer (energy efficient high performance computing)
- Grid Net (smart meter infrastructure)
- iControl (home automation and monitoring).
According to the press release, 'Intel Capital is focused on actively seeking and structuring investments in companies worldwide that are producing products and services in a variety of green areas such as energy efficiency, alternative power generation and storage, transportation and materials, with particular emphasis in support of Intel's Open Energy Initiative, helping foster standards-based, interoperable solutions'.
I could carp about the press release reference to 'The global nature of these five investments' (US and Ireland? Global as in the World Series, I guess), but that would be unfair, since 62% Intel Capital's $1.6bn investment in 2008 was apparently outside North America.
Friday, 31 July 2009
Intel announced on Wednesday that it's putting up around $10m in investment in five clean technology companies in the US and Ireland. The investments include:
Just to follow up on yesterday's posting on the renewable energy rankings, as has been pointed out, just buying renewable energy is not a solution to fighting climate change. The focus should be on greater energy efficiency first and renewable energy second. With renewables in short supply there needs to be a fair availability. (According to the latest monthly report from the US Energy Information Administration, in April this year renewable energy accounted for 11% of the supply in the US, which, incidentally, was ahead of nuclear).
In the case of the EPA rankings, I think it was initially just a means to encourage people to think about using renewables, including on-site generation, which is helpful. And to be fair, as I mentioned in the blog, it’s not just buying renewable energy that helps in the rankings but also supporting the process through RECS.
It would be useful, though, to see some reference to relative use of renewables vs non-renewables in the rankings. It's probably buried somewhere in CSR reports, CDP disclosures, etc.
So seriously, what did Dell do with all that renewable energy if it constituted 158% of its total energy requirements?
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
The EPA Green Power Partnership encourages organisations to buy green energy as a way to reduce the environmental impacts of electricity use. The Partnership now has hundreds of organisations on its books voluntarily purchasing billions of kilowatt-hours of green power every year. It also publishes a ranking of the leading Fortune 500 purchasers of green energy in the US.
Purchased amounts are for the US operations only and qualify through three options; Renewable Energy Certificates (effectively subsidises renewable energy which would not otherwise be price-competitive), on-site generation and green power products from utilities.
Intel leads the table with purchases of 1.3 billion kWh of renewable energy (the same as when I last reported the EPA's assessment in January 2008 as part of the Fortune 500 Challenge - see here). Dell is in 5th place with 556 million kWh, Cisco 7th (400m kWh), Sprint Nextel 20th (88m kWh) and Motorola 21st (78m kWh).
(Some other companies report their emissions on a facility by facility basis, but I don't think they beat these leaders).
Interestingly, Dell's green energy purchases are given as 158% of the company's total electricity use, a long way ahead of anybody else. I wonder what they do with it?
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Greenpeace took direct action against HP in the US today against what it describes as the company's continuing contribution to toxic electronic waste. Employees at the company's Palo Alto HQ were greeted with the message ‘HP = Hazardous Products’, painted on the roof in large yellow letters. There were also automated phone calls from actor William Shatner calling for the company to phase out the toxic chemicals.
According to Greenpeace, the protest was in response to HP postponing its 2007 commitment to phase out dangerous substances such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic from its products (excluding the server and printer lines) from 2009 to 2011. Greenpeace pointed out that Apple’s new computer lines, which are apparently virtually free of PVC and completely BFR-free, show that alternatives can be used.
HP hasn't made any comment that I'm aware of, but I have some sympathy for the company. Greenpeace has its own view on what the priorities should be and likes to get its point across in no uncertain terms.
Monday, 27 July 2009
A couple of weeks ago Wyse Technology, which specialises in thin computing and client virtualisation, announced the launch of Wyse Virtual Desktop Accelerator (VDA). The software is aimed at the problem of network latency, packet loss and other issues that occur as the distance from a data centres increases.
Wyse says that VDA virtually eliminates these problems by accelerating network protocols up to three times. The results is a better end-user experience and productivity in virtualised settings. As a consequence, according to Wyse, enterprises can consolidate data centres, eliminate redundancies, improve ease of management for the IT staff and reduce maintenance costs. Consolidating data centres means less energy consumption and carbon emissions are reduced.
The software-only solution is also apparently easy to deploy, requires no hardware or appliances and is optimised for virtual desktop deployments. Wyse says that results from early implementations have suggested significant potential cost savings to participating companies.
I'm not sure how much of a problem latency really is, but if companies are building data centres just to get round the problem, then this has to be something worth considering.
EDS (now part of HP, of course) and SAP Australia and New Zealand announced last Friday that they will be providing a new carbon accounting solution which will help companies comply with the new Federal government emissions guidelines in Australia.
Actually, SAP launched its Environmental Compliance (EC) solution in 2008, although I suspect it was more of a framework than a solution at that time. This announcement seems to relate to a new collaboration between EDS and SAP, offering the EC solution specifically for the Australian market.
The solution will calculate, record and analyse emissions across the organisation and generate the data for regulatory reporting. EDS will provide its SAP expertise to integrate the solution into companies’ existing financial systems or provide a stand-alone, hosted version. (A lot of these solutions are expected to be hosted in one form or another, since this is essentially a compliance issue and companies will want to offload some of the need for in-house expertise to keep up with emerging national and international legislation).
It's an issue in Australia (as it will eventually be everywhere else) because of the planned 2011 introduction of an emissions trading scheme (the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme - CPRS). Underpinning the CPRS, Australia already has legislation in place around the reporting and dissemination of information about greenhouse gas emissions - the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act - which came into force last year and covers emissions, reductions, removals and offsets, energy consumption and production. This is what the SAP/EDS solution is aimed at.
Friday, 24 July 2009
Two software companies, Tririga, which provides facilities and real estate management solutions, and design software company Autodesk, are offering free products to help the move to a greener world. The approach is somewhat different, though.
Tririga has a solution called Tririga Real Estate Environmental Sustainability (Trees - I bet someone got a bonus for thinking that up), a suite of environmental sustainability software tools to streamline greenhouse gas reporting and environmental investment analysis.
The company has announced a free, limited-time offer for large- and mid-sized organisations that acquire the Trees Metrics software before the end of September. Trees Metrics tracks energy use, carbon emissions, water use, and waste from each facility and provides baseline metrics. It can also set thresholds to compare how each facility is performing against industry or organisation benchmarks and the software includes full reporting capabilities.
The hope is that the companies that take up the offer (the software is apparently worth $49,000) will move on to adopt other solutions in the company's portfolio.
It does reinforce the point, though, that this sort of sector-specific, add-on carbon counting software will increasingly lose its value. As is the case with all added features that become essential, they will ultimately become integrated into the base software offering and free to everyone. (The same cannot be said for the stand-alone, enterprise-wide carbon tracking and reporting solutions).
Autodesk has a different, slightly more altruistic, approach. It has introduced its Clean Tech Partner Program, which will give 100 early-stage, clean technology companies nearly $150,000 each in Autodesk design software.
Lynelle Cameron, director of sustainability for Autodesk said; "The Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program is designed to accelerate innovation and leadership in the clean tech market. As part of our ongoing commitment to global sustainability, Autodesk will be working together with emerging clean tech companies to help bring their ideas to market faster and more cost-effectively."
Grant recipients will receive a bundle of up to five full licenses of a collection of six Autodesk applications.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
In a joint report entitled Carbon Connections, Vodafone and Accenture have concluded that wireless telecommunications have the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 113 Mt CO2e a year and cut associated energy costs by €43bn across the 25 EU countries in 2020. These carbon savings represent 2.4% of expected EU emissions for 2020.
The savings come from 13 specific opportunities that the report identified in five areas, which are:
• Dematerialisation – For example, mobile telepresence, virtual office, mobile delivery notifications for e-commerce.
• Smart grids - Improving efficiency through active monitoring of the grid, remote monitoring of micro-generators and feed-back to consumers on grid use and variable pricing.
• Smart logistics - Vehicle tracking to optimise routes, decentralised tracking to adjust speed and routing, loading optimisation to maximise capacity, onboard telematics to encourage efficient driving and predictive maintenance, and remote supply control for more efficient deliveries.
• Smart cities - Synchronising traffic lights to maximise traffic flow.
• Smart manufacturing - High-value product remote monitoring systems to transmit its status for predictive maintenance.
There is no doubt that mobile communications (in some form) will be an essential part of the smart infrastructure that we'll need to help fight climate change, particularly around smart logistics, for example. But I have a problem with some of the other assumed savings which will certainly rely on communications, but not necessarily mobile.
With the current talk of an 'Internet of Things' i.e. a world where many common devices will be connected over the web, it seems more than likely that quite a lot of the devices mentioned above will be online. We know communications will be required but it seems to me to be tempting fate to assume it will all be by wireless telecommunications. It also means that the savings outlined could be double counting with other assessments of the impact of telecommunications.
The other point is that some of these are opportunities to reduce carbon emissions which will have little benefit over existing solutions. For example, does predicting maintenance require a direct wireless communications module? I guess if the asset is expensive and the module cheap then why not, but there may be minimal incentive.
Anyway, I hope to get the chance to discuss the report with Vodafone sometime soon, so I'll let you know what they say.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Samsung Electronics has announced a range of initiatives, known as Eco-Management 2013, aimed at reducing emissions from manufacturing, making products greener and establishing a range of green partnerships.
There are five specific aspects:
- Reducing emissions from manufacturing of semiconductors and LCDs. The target is to half the greenhouse gas emissions (normalised by sales) compared with 2008;
- Cut indirect emissions from all products by 84 million tons by 2013 by enhancing the energy efficiency of products;
- Ensure all products exceed global eco-mark standards;
- investing 5.4 trillion Korean won (c$4.3bn) in various initiatives including research and development, energy-saving technologies and the greening of facilities;
- Building environmental co-operation with suppliers and partners, e.g. around ISO 14001 implementation.
The company has been working hard on its CSR credentials as a whole and the diagram above shows the range of aspects it is addressing in its European operation, which is impressively comprehensive.
On Monday Capgemini announced that it had joined a group of international businesses in committing to cutting business travel flights by one-fifth over the next five years.
It's part of WWF’s ‘One in Five Challenge’, who's founder members also include Marks Spencer, Premiere Global, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Vodafone.
The video gives some background, but basically the independently audited scheme encourages businesses to seek greener alternatives to flying, from video conferencing to train travel, sets yearly flight reduction targets and helps companies to get their staff engaged with the project.
It sounds like a great scheme. As I've commented before, most efforts apparently aimed at reducing air travel have been solely focused on increasing the use of teleconferencing and videoconferencing. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is not a direct link, i.e. more use of videoconferencing does not necessarily produce an equivalent reduction in air travel. This programme is directly aimed at the source of the problem and it's good to see an IT company actively involved.
Although the press release is not explicit, this does seem to be a UK-only initiative, though, which is a shame. It's a little disingenuous not to make that clearer. James Robey, Head of Corporate Sustainability at Capgemini UK (who I met recently for a green profile of the company) is quoted in the press release as saying: “Capgemini is delighted to be a founding member of the WWF 1 in 5 Challenge. The Challenge perfectly complements our target to reduce carbon from business travel by 30% by 2014, and also provides a powerful way of engaging with our people and our customers.” But he only speaks for the UK operation.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Last Thursday Walmart announced that it will be developing a worldwide product index which will establish a single source of data for evaluating the sustainability of products.
The company has been pro-active in promoting sustainable products within its stores. As we reported at the time, since January last year it has required all of its suppliers to meet specific environmental, social and quality standards and made compliance with those standards part of its contracts.
This initiative will start with a survey of its 100,000+ suppliers around the world in the form of a questionnaire that will also serve as a tool for Walmart’s suppliers to evaluate their own sustainability efforts. The questions will focus on: energy and climate; material efficiency; natural resources, and; people and community. There's more information here.
Subsequently the company will help create a consortium of universities that will collaborate with suppliers, retailers, NGOs and government to develop a global database of information on the lifecycle of products. It will also partner with IT companies to create an open platform that will power the index.
The final stage is to translate the product information into a simple consumer rating to provide transparency into the quality and history of products.
With sales of $401bn for 2009 year end, Walmart is a force to be reckoned with. This initiative will certainly up the pressure on suppliers not only to address sustainability issues but also ensure they have the systems in place to record and monitor their actions, including, for instance, carbon emissions.
The International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) is conducting a global survey on the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in outsourcing.
The survey is addressed at outsourcing providers, customers and advisers and aims to get information on their actions and views on CSR, as well as sustainability and environmental responsibility.
The survey will apparently cover things like perceptions about the impact of outsourcing on the environment, climate and society; reporting on CSR practices; business strategy; budgets for CSR activities; standards and codes of conduct; and the importance of CSR issues and policies. The survey will be conducted through July and results will be released this fall.
The IAOP has members from IT outsourcers and advisers including Accenture, ACS, Infosys, Orange Business Services, PA Consulting and Wipro (probably more, but I can't find a list of member companies on their web site).
This survey could be very interesting, depending on what questions are asked. It seems to me that the big question is whether outsourcers expect to see more business come to them as their customers offload CSR responsibility, particularly around climate change. An easy way to cut emissions is to outsource the problem.
This is particularly relevant in the UK, where the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) legislation will draw in many data centre owners who may decide it's easier to outsource. But that means that outsourcers will see their emissions grow (even though they are generally much more energy-efficient), which in turn will mean increased costs (because of lack of rebates under the legislation) and also some negative publicity in the form of league tables. It's probably all inevitable, but none the less uncomfortable.
Friday, 17 July 2009
Sometime ago US company International Paper published a brochure in its Down to Earth series which posed the question "Are electronic devices the most effective environmental choice for getting information?". The graphic below is taken from the brochure.
The press release that came with it highlighted some of the main points, which were:
o Paper comes from a renewable resource – Trees.
- Every day the paper and forest products industry plants more than three times the number of trees than are harvested - paper is truly renewable and sustainable.
- Electronic devices are typically made of plastics and other non-renewable resources and often contain chemicals and metals.
o Paper vs. Computers – Compare energy consumption.
- The amount of electricity to run a computer for only five months could produce enough paper for the average person to use for an entire year.
o Paper is biodegradable and recyclable. Are computers?
- Paper is biodegradable and nearly 60% of all paper in the U.S. is recycled.
- Only 18% of all electronic devices are currently recycled and e-waste constitutes the single largest waste export in the U.S.
It's pretty selective information and doesn't bear taking to its logical conclusion. For example, suppose you didn't have that PC/laptop and had to store all those files in paper format ... And what about the energy used in getting the print on to the paper in the first place? It's the sheer volume of information that computers hold and IT is getting greener all the time.
But I was reminded of the comments by an item in thelondonnews (one of London's free papers) yesterday. It seems that a brainstorming session using Post-It notes in a glass-walled office lead to an outbreak of communications between adjacent offices and buildings using the yellow stickies.
Social networking, but not as we know it.
The UK government has published a White Paper setting out its plans to reach the UK's target reduction in emissions by 2020 (compared with 1990, but the figures used mostly relate to a 21% reduction on 2008 emissions, which is effectively the same thing)
I've shown the expected emissions in 2020 in the chart and the reduction this represents over 2008.
The headlines from the White Paper (which, together with the Annex is here) are:
• All major UK Government departments now have their own carbon budget and must produce their own plan. The budget has two parts, one representing a departments influence on reducing emissions from the economy and one reflecting the emissions from its own operations.
• 40% of our electricity is to come from low carbon sources by 2020 through:
- Producing 30% of electricity from renewables
- Funding up to four demonstrations of capturing and storing emissions from coal power stations.
- Building new nuclear power stations.
Also, Ofgem (the energy regulator) has the additional responsibility of security of supply.
• Making homes greener through:
- £3.2bn to help households become more energy efficient.
- Rolling out smart meters in every home by the end of 2020.
- Piloting “pay as you save” ways to help people make their homes greener
- Introducing clean energy cash-back schemes
- Opening a competition for the greenest town.
• Helping the most vulnerable by:
- Creating mandated social price support
- Piloting a community-based approach to delivering green homes
- Increasing the level of energy saving grants
• Supporting the development and use of clean technologies, including up to £120m investment in offshore wind.
• Cutting average CO2 emissions from new cars by 40% on 2007 levels, supporting the largest demonstration project in the world for new electric cars, and sourcing 10% of UK transport energy from renewable sources by 2020.
• A formal framework for tackling emissions from farming.
It's a comprehensive paper, with lots of details on emissions and expected reductions, so worth a look. But the only direct reference to something that will impact the ICT sector is around smart grids. The report says that the Government will later this year publish a high level vision for a future smart grid in the UK - the Grid National Policy Statement - for consultation
Thursday, 16 July 2009
The last week has seen some significant announcements from the two software heavyweights fighting for dominance on the desktop. It's worth reviewing where we are and what it means for Green IT.
Well, Google has been steadily expanding its online offerings over a number of years and now has fingers in many pies. Apart from the ubiquitous search engine it has a hand in online offerings such as Blogger, Feedburner, YouTube, Google Earth and Google Docs, its free online word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programmes.
However, the recent launch of Google Chrome browser has really brought it into direct competition with Microsoft on the desktop and the company also announced last week that it's developing a Google Chrome operating system which will go head-to-head with Windows. And Google's offering will apparently be free.
In response, at the announcement on Monday that Office 2010 is entering testing, Microsoft also announced that it will offer cut-down, web-based versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint through Windows Live, making it available to 400 million Windows Live users.
Not only that, but according to Information Week yesterday, Microsoft will also give corporate customers the option of hosting the Web-based Office 2010 offering on their own servers, which opens up even greater opportunities for client-server platforms.
So where does it leave green IT? Well in an ideal world it would all be good news, for two main reasons:
* Moving applications online (or into a client-server environment) should allow them to be supplied a lot more efficiently, given the economies of scale that can be achieved, which means less carbon emissions. Google, in particular, has talked a lot about how efficient it's data centres are and also has some innovative ideas for reducing data centre power.
* On the desktop itself there will be less need to have such power-hungry machines to run online applications, so they should require less energy and emissions to manufacture and run. Netbooks, ideal for online applications, are a lot more efficient than traditional laptops, for example.
So it's clearly a movement in the right direction, although there are other issues to consider which could limit the benefit. In particular the reliability of using cloud applications, given the fairly regular news of failures of service. The danger is that users will want a belt-and-braces approach for when things go wrong, so are likely to buy more featured machines than they need by way of backup, which rather defeats the object.
That consideration aside, it's likely to take some education of the market to get purchasers to go for less featured machines, particularly given the increasing use of video and other resource hungry applications. Some of the steam already seems to be going out of the netbook market, despite the marketing clamour.
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
I like this one, for the name alone (emphasis on the 'eco').
VeryPC, the UK company that claims to build the world's most energy efficient desktops and servers has launched PecoBoo, a PC power management solution.
PecoBOO uses a webcam and a face detection programme to tell when you’re looking at your PC or not. When you turn away from your computer display it turns it off for you. As soon as you return it sees that you're ready to work, and turns the display back on.
There's lots of adjustments for the sensitivity and time before switching off the monitor, etc. In fact you can try it yourself - it seems to be freely available from here
It's a good idea, but I'm not sure whether it has any more sustainability credentials than existing keyboard detection/idle time controls. And what if your cat climbs on the desk?
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Xcel Energy, an electricity and natural gas energy company with operations in eight Western and Midwestern US states, has announced a programme designed to help IT managers make energy efficiency a priority.
The Data Center Efficiency program offers businesses cash rebates for commissioning a study to determine energy-saving measures and additional incentives for implementing the recommended changes.
The program considers a number of factors that can reduce energy consumption:
* High-efficiency servers – Servers with a more efficient power supply can be around 25% more efficient than 'standard' servers.
* Server virtualization.
* Airflow improvements – Proper placement of equipment and management of cable raceways can reduce temperature hot spots in the data center and reduce the cooling needed.
* High-efficiency cooling equipment.
* High-efficiency lighting equipment – Although only around 5% of energy usage in data centres, there is opportunity to install higher-efficiency lighting. (I've never understood why the lights are on in server rooms in the first place).
* Humidity controls – Servers don't require tight humidity control and can be placed in rooms with relative high humidity without adverse effects.
* Power systems – Selecting a higher efficiency uninterruptable power supply (UPS) can save tens of thousands of dollars a year.
There's nothing rocket science about all this, but it's interesting to see a power company directly addressing the IT operation in this way. Most that I've seen is fairly low-level business and consumer advice along the lines of 'don't forget to turn off your PC'. We could do with something like this in the UK, particularly as the Carbon Reduction Commitment looms.
Monday, 13 July 2009
I'm not sure whether this is really news, but according to Green500.org, which publishes the Green500 list, 90% of the top 20 energy efficient supercomputers in the world are made by IBM.
This is the fifth edition of the list, which ranks computers on the basis of megaflops per watt (but I still don't understand who's got the time or inclination to list the top 500). When I last reported on the list IBM had 15 of the top 20, so it's doing even better now in the green supercomputer stakes. For your information, the other two in the top 20 were the GRAPE-DR accelerator Cluster, Infiniband (ranked 5) and the NEC HPC 140Rb-1 Cluster, Xeon X5560 2.8Ghz, Infiniband (20). (No, me neither).
Perhaps more interesting is the analysis that average efficiency increased by 10%, although the aggregate power of the list increased by 15%, so while the supercomputers on the list are collectively consuming more power, they are using the power more efficiently. Also, there are now more machines above 200 Mflops/Watt and fewer machines below 50 - as more powerful supercomputers supplant the less powerful, these new machines are performing their computations more energy efficiently.
The full Green500 list is available here.
Some might argue that the problem is that there are increasing numbers of supercomputers using more energy, even if they are more efficient, and they have a point. It's hard to tell what all these machines are doing - most are in universities and research institutes. But one area of growth is bound to be around trying to monitor and predict the impact of climate change.
GlassHouse Technologies, a US IT infrastructure consulting firm, has announced a service called Energy Proficiency Impact Analysis (EPIA). The EPIA identifies changes that can be made to streamline IT infrastructure in line with green targets - the US press release cites the Clean Energy and Security Act, whilst the UK version talks about the UK carbon emission reduction targets (could have mentioned the Carbon Reduction Commitment).
Anyway, the new service, which is in collaboration with Rackwise (data centre software) and Fortress International (data centre design and construction) provides two strategic results: the Green Proficiency Analysis (GPA) and the Cost Proficiency Analysis (CPA). The reports, which are powered by the Rackwise Data Centre Manager software, help identify opportunities to address operational inefficiencies in power and cooling and also outline measures to ensure compliance with green legislative and regulatory mandates, with an assessment of the cost impact.
Through a five-step process, the GPA provides an analysis of the data centre environment and offers recommendations for greater efficiencies based on metrics from The Green Grid. It also allows enterprise to test changes before implementation. Based on the GPA results, the CPA validates the financial savings and shows a breakdown of when organisations can expect to see a financial ROI.
This could be a timely service. There are lots of solutions to measure and manage carbon emissions but not so many that specifically focus on the data centre. Emissions from data centres are likely to pull a lot of companies into the regulatory environment and solutions to help reduce emissions will be in demand. (Having said that, in the case of the CRC in the UK, once a company is in all its emissions need to be measured and managed, so covering the data centre alone will not be enough).
One nice touch - the press release also pointed out the efforts of GlassHouse Technologies to go green, including providing the employees in its Israeli office with electric cars to reduce emissions. A minor point, but it at least shows willing by a green IT provider to talk about what it's doing itself.
Ericsson and Telecom Italia are carrying out a joint trial of flexible solar panels on radio base stations that can potentially generate all of the energy required to power a site.
The Eco-Smart solution, the result of an agreement signed between Ericsson and Telecom Italia in 2008 to jointly develop sustainable solutions, features an elliptical support structure coated with flexible solar panels wrapping up the antenna.
The companies have set out to show that alternative energy sources represent a viable business case for both emerging and developed markets. Energy costs can account for half a site's operating expenses, so the Eco-Smart solution can contribute to significant cost savings while reducing CO2 emissions.
The structure was designed in Italy and can be easily adapted to all radio base station shapes. The trial is being carried out in the Italian city of L'Aquila, where the G8 leaders met last week.
You have to believe that things are getting serious when the UK government sets up a special force to monitor adherence to the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), which comes into force next April. (Search for CRC on www.thegreenitreview.com for some background).
It was always the case that there would be an enforcement element to the legislation and The Sunday Times (July 4th) reports that it will be a unit of about 50 auditors and inspectors with the powers to search properties, view power meters and get access to fuel bills and and carbon trading records. The unit, set up by the Environment Agency, will also be able to call on the agency’s network of hundreds of pollution inspectors.
It's expected that around 1,200 businesses will be audited every year. Initially company activities and energy bills will be examined (unknown to the company) and if it doesn't all add up then the unit will be sent in.
The best bit (and I'm not sure whether to believe this or not) is that the members of the unit will wear green jackets when they do their stuff, which summons up pictures of the 'boys in green' going in to enforce environmental law.
Most data centres in the UK will at least have to report emissions under the new law, so the green police could be a common sight in many IT departments and most IT services suppliers.
Friday, 10 July 2009
T-Mobile USA has launched Green Perks, a mobile application that offers discounts on environmentally conscious products and services. It can apparently be download free to many current T-Mobile handsets.
The application delivers electronic coupons directly to customers’ phones with discounts on anything from earth-friendly cleaning supplies, bikes and bike supplies, to a bowl of slow-cooked organic oatmeal.
Not really green ICT in itself, but if it helps users go green ...
Thursday, 9 July 2009
Carbon Emissions Management Software (CEMS) company Carbonetworks has launched a solution specifically aimed at UK companies facing the forthcoming Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) legislation.
We've already reported on the legislation, particularly it's impact on the IT market (see here) when it comes into force in April 2010. In all, around 20,000 companies in the UK are expected to have to count their carbon emissions to comply with the legislation.
Anyway, Carbonetworks has announced the launch of a new application within its software platform to address the requirement. The company claims that it is a move away from spreadsheet-based calculations, providing 'robust business controls, fully audited reports of carbon and energy usage, and modeling and scenario planning capabilities'.
As Michael Meehan, President and CEO of Carbonetworks, explained in the press release; "We are doing for CRC reporting what we did for customers reporting to the Carbon Disclosure Project, automating the process while providing solutions to mitigate risk, reduce costs, and improve performance. We are committed to supporting our customers in meeting local legislative mandates, such as the CRC".
That last statement pretty well sums up the opportunity for CEMS software out there as layers of legislation are introduced in countries around the world. This is the biggest compliance issue yet, so it's no wonder that the CEMS market is rapidly developing into a major battleground.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Actually the story is not about new RFID tags that can be reused, but rather the realisation that existing tags can be used for multiple trips.
The Reusable Packaging Association sponsored a study based on a year-long and widely-supported industry field test of RFID technology on reusable containers. It concluded that RFID tags designed for single use could be used for multiple trips without any deterioration in performance, if positioned correctly on reusable containers.
“By combining RFID technology with reusable containers, industries gain the ability to better track their product and their containers as they move through the supply chain,” said Bob Klimko, Chairman of the RPA Board and Director of Marketing for ORBIS Corporation. “This will result in a stronger return on investment on the containers, as well as provide opportunities for improved supply chain management through analysis of the data provided.”
Whilst reusable packaging provides benefits to the user and the environment it also poses some challenges, including managing and locating the packaging. The packaging often costs more and needs to be reused to optimise the investment. This use of RFID provides a means to cost-effectively track and trace these reusable assets, providing an accelerated return on investment.
So you need fewer RFID tags and it makes managing reusable packaging more cost-effective. Sounds like a win-win all round, particularly as RFID is already set to grow significantly in the coming years. There might be a problem at the product level, though, since the EU requires tags to be removed at the point of sale for privacy reasons.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working on plans to cut harmful emissions from ocean-going vessels, primarily nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). The organisation is proposing to use the Clean Air Act to set engine and fuel standards for U.S. flagged ships to bring them in line with international standards.
The rule follows a proposal last March by the US and Canada to designate thousands of miles of the two countries’ coasts as an Emission Control Area (ECA). It would mean that there would be stringent standards for large ships operating within 200 nautical miles of the coast. The UN's International Maritime Organisation is due to consider the ECA plan this month.
According to the EPA the US and international strategies would reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxides from large marine diesel engines by about 1.2 million tons and particulate matter emissions by about 143,000 tons by 2030. When fully implemented, the coordinated effort would reduce NOx emissions by 80% and PM emissions by 85%.
From an IT perspective you have to see it as another factor in the growing green compliance requirement that is going to impact many aspects of business and the IT systems that run the commercial world. As we know, compliance already drives a lot of IT outsourcing as companies look to offload the hassle and as rules multiply internationally there's a lot of scope to help global organisations cope.
Monday, 6 July 2009
I've made the point several times in the last year that the UK public sector has been slow to lead the way in going green, particularly since the government has enacted the first national legislation on climate change.
The slowness is somewhat reflected in the attitude to green IT, which has gained some recognition and momentum at the heart of government (the Cabinet Office CIO Council, with the Greening Government ICT report) but this has not seem to have been translated into any universal policy changes or been transmitted out to the wider public sector (I guess because public spending is now an issue in the UK and takes priority).
Anyway, Global Action Plan, the UK organisation dedicated to helping companies go green, has released a survey-based report called 'The Path to Greener Government', which also makes the point.
The full report is here, but some of the key points include:
• Overall 60% of respondents were not aware of the Government’s Greening ICT Strategy. In fact 41% of national government respondents were not aware of the strategy even though it specifically covers their area of activity.
• 67% of respondents that are aware of the Greening Government ICT Strategy are concerned or extremely concerned that targets contained within the report will be difficult to achieve.
• According to the survey findings, only 16% of respondents are currently sharing knowledge and learning with other public sector organisations in order to achieve their targets.
In terms of implementing a greener ICT approach, the report reveals that:
• only 20% of responding ICT departments pay for some or all of their organisations’ energy.
• Only 13% of respondents calculate the carbon footprint of their ICT activities.
• Only 22% of respondents have set internal green ICT targets.
• 39% of respondents are not aware of the percentage utilisation of their server estate
It's not all bad, for example take-up of server optimisation, decommissioning idle server equipment and reusing equipment is high (between 59%-69% implementation across all respondents). Nonetheless, there's a awful lot still to do.
Orange Business Services has announced a videoconferencing service that operates across all networks (IP VPN, Internet, ISDN) and any type of vendor equipment. Known as Open Videopresence it allows users to organise video conferences between their offices and also with external organisations.
The idea is to make video conferencing as simple as possible for the end user, so online reservation is available via a web portal or Outlook and the videoconferencing terminals of all participants start automatically at the set time of the conference.
Users can opt for a single point-of-contact in charge of the technical setup of meetings and their management, if preferred, and administrators can monitor usage online to keep track of the number of video conferences held.
There's a commitment to the quality of service - Orange tests the service from end-to-end, taking into account the equipment and network access. A multilingual support center is also available for users 24/7.
The Open Videopresence service is based on a package that includes the service and usage, ranging from €259 for moderate usage to €489 for high usage, per month and per equipment and depending on various custom-configurations. The service is available in 104 countries.
There's certainly a need to make videoconferencing simple and effective if it's really going to become a travel alternative and this service seems to be another step in the right direction. It does seem to focus in on the main issues, i.e. being easy for users and ensuring a quality of service. My guess is that this will be just one of many such services that will ultimately compete on price, to the user's benefit.
Friday, 3 July 2009
- Yahoo has joined the growing band of sceptics around offsets and announced that it will no longer be purchasing carbon offsets to achieve its emissions reductions goals. Back in 2007 it was one of the planks of the company's carbon reduction plans, but now the company says that "We believe creating highly-efficient data centers will have a greater long-term, direct impact on the environment and gives us the best opportunity to play a leadership role in addressing climate change". The comment, from Yahoo's co-founder David Filo was made as the company announced plans to build one of the most energy-efficient data centres in the world. It will be powered predominantly by renewable hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls, with 90% of that energy powering the servers themselves. The Buffalo Lockport, NY, data center design will have an annualized average PUE of 1.1 or better. Impressive stuff.
- Sony Europe has announced today that its 32 sites throughout Europe, falling under Sony’s Global Environmental Management System (GEMS) are powered by electricity from 100% renewable resources. It's part of the actions the company has taken which have resulted in a reduction of CO2 emissions by 55,216 tons in Europe in FY08. The programme has included energy saving programs at all its sites, such as Pencoed in the UK where a 43% energy saving was achieved from FY07 – FY08. The 32 GEMS certified sites using renewable energy have been independently certified by Bureau Veritas Certification (BVC) to confirm that they used 100% renewable electricity in fiscal year 2008. The certification is a nice touch - transparency is everything.
- Symantec has earned its second Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its Springfield, Oregon site. It follows a similar award in July 2008, for its Culver City campus. Symantec has also joined the U.S. EPA Climate Leaders program, an industry-government partnership which provides guidance and recognition to companies developing long-term climate change strategies. Participating companies commit to complete a corporate-wide inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, set long-term reduction goals and report annually to the EPA on company progress.
British Gas, one of the largest energy suppliers in the UK, has announced that it is creating 2,600 new jobs by 2012 to support the roll-out of smart meters across the country. It includes 2,100 smart energy experts trained to help customers become more energy efficient, cutting their carbon emissions and their fuel bills. As well as installing meters, they will be able to advise customers on tariffs, conduct energy efficiency audits and give advice on insulation and generating your own energy.
It's another demonstration of the impact that smart meters will have, both through the process of installation and the expected reduction in energy use. Suppliers are looking for other green business opportunities alongside smart meter installation, hence the experts. It's also a great time to be generating jobs.
However, to get the benefit of smart meters it's essential to make sure the right devices are being installed. A recent report from New Zealand's Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, entitled 'Smart electricity meters: How households and the environment can benefit' questioned the suitability of the some of the meters planned to be installed in New Zealand by 2012.
The report pointed out that home area network (HAN) communication capability with real-time in-home displays enable a number of functions that show promise in delivering sustained demand reduction. But 800,000 meters without HAN capability are planned for roll-out by 2012. Without HAN capability, the benefits from smart meters almost entirely accrue to the retailer. Consumers will end up paying for meters that provide them with minimal benefits. The report concludes that "This requires urgent intervention".
I suspect we will hear more of these sorts of issues, with countries and companies installing cheap 'smart' meters that are of little benefit, except to the vested interests that installed them. There is urgent need for minimum specifications around these devices and standards for communications between units from different companies.
Thursday, 2 July 2009
The European Commission announced on Monday that the mobile phone industry has responded to its requests and agreed to harmonise chargers in the EU (rather than face legislation). In a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) the industry has committed to provide compatible chargers based on the Micro-USB connector. The signatories to the MoU were Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research in Motion (RIM), Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments. The first generation of new inter-chargeable mobile phones should reach the EU market from 2010 onwards.
Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industrial policy, said: "I am very pleased that industry has found an agreement, which will make life much simpler for consumers. This also means considerably less electronic waste, because people will no longer have to throw away chargers when buying new phones. I am also very pleased that this solution was found on the basis of self-regulation. As a result, the Commission does not consider it necessary to introduce legislation.”
That's a win-win. No more throwing away chargers each time you change phone and (hopefully) reduced costs for phones (since no new charger will be required).
The latest quarterly Greenpeace analysis of how green electronics product providers are has been released. The chart below shows the scores and rankings and the full analysis - with detailed scoring for each company - is available here.
Nokia continues to lead the pack, ahead of Samsung and with Sony Ericsson now bridging the gap between the leaders and the rest of the pack.
PC makers HP, Dell and Lenovo all improved on their base scores, but were once again penalised a point for backtracking on their commitment to eliminate vinyl plastic (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from their products from the end of 2009.