Friday, 24 December 2010
Belgrave Trust is offering a laptop neutral offset package that allows aluminium body MacBook Pro owners to offset the lifetime emissions (manufacture and use) of the device. Belgrave Trust is a US organisation dedicated to making offsets easier to use as well as ensuring they use high-quality carbon offset projects.
The focus is on the aluminium devices because, as the organisation points out, while manufacturers claim aluminium laptops are eco-friendly because they’re easier to recycle, an aluminium model causes 42% more greenhouse gas emissions than an identical plastic version.
The offset service works by users purchasing a $10 sticker to go on their laptop to mark it as carbon neutral. Each purchase pays for clean energy and efficiency programmes around the world which reduce climate change-causing emissions sufficient to completely offset the laptop. The Laptop Neutral Sticker comes with a card outlining the carbon offset details.
The cost is based on the estimate that the laptop will emit a total of 0.63 metric tons CO2e during its lifecycle, based on published data for manufacturing and lifecycle and estimated average use.
Well, I’m never keen on offsetting – we need to focus on reducing power rather than going for the easy option of paying someone else to do it. But it’s better than nothing and in this case I think the sticker swings it. Putting such a green indicator over such an iconic logo will get attention, and awareness is half the battle.
Thursday, 23 December 2010
Open Planet Ideas is a collaborative green/tech project, launched by Sony Europe and supported by WWF, in which the public were invited to submit their ideas on how to repurpose existing Sony technologies to help tackle environmental issues. Around 400 ideas were received.
I reported on the process back in October when the online collaboration stage started to share ideas on how to use Sony technology to meet the challenges identified. Now they’re looking for input to help choose which one of the final eight shortlisted ideas should go forward to further development by Sony engineers.
Voting lasts until 9 January 2011, after which a panel of experts (from Sony, WWF and IDEO) will look at the ideas and the votes received to decide which idea will be taken to proof of concept, before releasing the results into the public domain for relevant organisations to implement in real life.
You can make your views known here – the video below explains all.
Well what else are you going to do over the holidays?
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Last week the The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced a partnership designed to enhance technical cooperation around chemical management activities. ECHA is the agency that implements REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) management programme in the EU.
The two organisations released a statement of intent that puts in place a process for working together on a range of issues of mutual interest including toxicity testing, the hazard and risk assessment of chemicals, risk management tools, scientific collaboration and information exchange.
One expected area of collaboration will be around the exchange of data and information on hazards, uses and substance identification, including data collected under REACH. The two agencies will work towards increasing the availability of chemical information to the public as well as sharing information on approaches to more efficiently address chemicals of concern that are prioritised for regulatory action.
International collaboration around hazardous chemicals can only be a good thing environmentally. But it also has potential IT implications, given the compliance requirements around the implementation of REACH in Europe and the IT effort in implementation. The move may herald the possibility of a similar move in the US, although given the current level of resistance to most environmental legislation in that country US, there’s a long way to go yet.
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
According to US publication Government Computer News, the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s Condor Cluster project has built a supercomputer from 1,716 Sony PlayStation 3 games consoles.
The magazine quotes Mark Barnell, director of high performance computing and the Condor Cluster project at AFRL, as saying that the computer can handle around 500 trillion floating-point calculations per second (half a petaflop), making it the 35th or 36th fastest computer in the world.
But it’s actually designed to be a green machine with supercomputer capabilities but using less energy. It’s described as ‘the greenest computer in the world’. It’s also (relatively) affordable, with a $2m price tag, compared with at least $50m for a general purpose supercomputers.
I’m not sure what the ‘greenest computer’ claim is based on, but given the EPRI research findings that I cited in my blog last Friday (that a Nintendo Wii system uses six times less power than a Sony PlayStation 3 or Microsoft Xbox 360 in active mode) perhaps they should try it with a Wii.
Monday, 20 December 2010
Ecosia.org, the green search engine that I reported on a year ago when it was launched, has celebrated its first birthday and come out with an improved site.
To celebrate its birthday the company announced that users had raised more than $160,000 (€123,000) for the WWF over the past 12 months as a result of using the organisation’s Bing and Yahoo-powered search engine. Not only does the site offset the search emissions, but every click on a sponsored ad within Ecosia translates into either cents for the environment - or cents for generating more cents for the environment.
“The numbers prove that such a social business concept can and does work,” said Ecosia founder Christian Kroll. “With this re-launch, we hope to make it even easier for Internet users everywhere to choose our sustainable services over the rest.”
The site improvements include added search options for images, videos, news and maps – featuring Bing’s Bird’s eye view – which help make the search function almost as versatile as that of any commercial search engine (Ecosia’s words).
Ecosia GmbH is a social business which donates at least 80% of its revenue to the world’s rainforests. The remaining 20% is reinvested in the further growth and development of the business. The German organisation had a rainforest conservation partnership with WWF Germany which has now become international - WWF will now receive the 80% of the site’s total monthly revenue, in support of its work in the Amazon.
The new site also has lots of information about how Ecosia works, WWF’s rainforest project supported by Ecosia, company values and history. Users can also join the sustainability conversation in the News section, where the latest from Ecosia and the WWF rainforest project it supports will appear.
Friday, 17 December 2010
There have been some encouraging stories recently about IT products reducing energy use:
• Dell has apparently achieved its commitment, made two years ago, to reduce the energy use of its desktops and laptops by 25%. These savings were on top of previous reductions; the energy efficiency of Dell’s OptiPlex desktops, for example, improved nearly 50% from 2005 to 2008.
The reductions have been achieved primarily through better tools, the use of LED displays and more efficient power supplies, although changes went down to the level of circuit designs. The company has worked with its suppliers to improve the energy-efficiency of processors, chip sets, power supplies and memory.
Dell has completed the move to LED displays for laptops and maintains that LED displays will save customers approximately $20m and 220 million kilowatt-hours in 2010 and 2011 combined, the equivalent of the annual CO2 emissions from more than 10,000 homes.
• The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has tested three top-selling video game consoles and found that a Nintendo Wii system uses six times less power than a Sony PlayStation 3 or Microsoft Xbox 360 in active mode.
Each system was tested for one hour of active play using EA Sports’ Madden 2011 football game, which is apparently widely played on all three game consoles (I wouldn’t know). The Nintendo Wii system used an average of 13.7 watts, the Sony PlayStation 3 used 84.8 watts, and the Microsoft Xbox 360 used 87.9 watts.
“Obviously there are many considerations when looking at a gaming system and we’re only talking about energy use,” said McGranaghan. “There are also trade-offs associated with graphics and speed that drive higher energy use and consumers will need to factor those elements in as well. The more graphically intensive systems will, by design, require more energy.”
So that’s food for thought when buying Christmas presents. (Although this test is for active use. In my experience consoles are left on standby for many more hours, so that would have also been an interesting measure).
• According to The New York Times, SiGNa Chemistry has unveiled a new chemical process that could make hydrogen fuel cells practical as a power source for consumer electronics. In a hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen and the hydrogen is used as the fuel. It effectively means a water-fuelled laptop.
SiGNa’s new process produces hydrogen in real-time, which the company claims results in a power source ten times cheaper than alkaline batteries and six times cheaper than disposable lithium batteries.
The target market for the fuel cells include consumer electronics and certain transport applications like electric bikes. It seems that Asia is a big market for electric bikes and while a lithium battery lasts just 20 miles, a fuel cell can go on for 3-4 times the distance.
Note that the above comments on Dell and Nintendo’s Wii are for power consumption only. Greenpeace takes a broader view of green IT and looks at other issues in its Green Electronics Guide, including the use of toxic chemicals and recycling.
In the last edition Dell was 10th out of 18 companies assessed by Greenpeace (4.9 points out of 10), but it would have been in 3rd or 4th place if not held back by a penalty point imposed for backtracking on its commitment to eliminate PVC vinyl plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in all its products by the end of 2009.
However, Nintendo is bottom of the rankings with just 1.8 points out of 10. It continues to score zero on all of Greenpeace’s e-waste criteria and fails to score for its commitment to reduce its in-house greenhouse gas emissions, due to a second year of increases, despite a commitment to cut CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases by 2% over each previous year.
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
The GSMA Development Fund and Lighting Africa have launched Community Power from Mobile (CPM), an initiative to encourage mobile network operators (MNOs) and tower companies in developing countries to provide excess power generated by their base stations to local, off-grid communities.
(GSMA represents the interests of the mobile communications industry and has a Development Fund aimed at accelerating economic, social and environmental development through the use of mobile technology. Lighting Africa is a joint International Finance Corporation (IFC) and World Bank programme.)
Mobile operators are increasingly generating their own off-grid power for base stations. Often this is via diesel generators, but, as I’ve reported previously, they are increasingly using alternative energy sources such as solar and wind. The idea is that the off-grid base stations will use their excess power to charge a range of devices such as mobile handsets, lanterns and household batteries. Ultimately, though, the power can be used for businesses, clinics, vaccination refrigerators, schools and homes.
"The mobile industry is experiencing unprecedented infrastructure growth in off-grid regions in the developing world, where nearly 1.6 billion people live without access to the electricity grid, and we estimate that 485 million of those have access to mobile phone services," said Chris Locke, Managing Director, GSMA Development Fund. "As base stations are typically the only powered infrastructure within walking distance of the community, the Community Power from Mobile initiative can simultaneously improve the business case for off-grid telecoms and have significant societal impact."
CPM plans for pilot projects in East Africa and India to be launched in Q1 2011. GSMA members are planning to install 640,000 off-grid base stations by 2012 across the developing world in close proximity to off-grid populations. By mid-2012, CPM will have developed commercially viable business model(s) and assisted 10 MNOs to expand their rollouts across the developing world.
Not entirely altruistic, since more charged phones means more phone usage, but nevertheless a commendable way of using resources, particularly if it’s renewable power that would otherwise not be used.
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
ClearCarbon is a carbon and energy management consultancy that help clients understand their environmental impacts and develop strategies to reduce their carbon footprint. Domani is a sustainability strategy consulting firm providing strategic and technical solutions around energy, carbon and water, helping enterprises manage sustainability risks and capitalise on opportunities. Both companies will be integrated into Deloitte’s sustainability services, but operate on an interim basis as "ClearCarbon by Deloitte" and "Domani by Deloitte"
It’s all part of Deloitte’s move to being a leading sustainability services provider, as part of which the UK operation bought dcarbon8 back in March. "Deloitte has identified the sustainability services market as a key growth area," said Jessica Blume, Deloitte’s national managing principal, research and innovation. "As an emerging offering, the acquisitions of ClearCarbon and Domani will further strengthen Deloitte’s ability to help clients drive value, mitigate business risk, and drive growth, efficiency and innovation through improved environmental, social and financial performance."
Deloitte’s sustainability offerings draw on the organisations primary business units and include industry-specific services across corporate strategy and operations, mergers and acquisitions, information technology, human capital, corporate tax, internal and external audit and enterprise risk management. The services address; energy supply, demand and efficiency; water and other resource scarcity; carbon and greenhouse gas management; and the general demand for increased transparency and assurance of non-financial performance.
Monday, 13 December 2010
Pike Research recently released the latest update of its Smart Grid Deployment tracker report and concluded that a total of 57.9 million smart meters are currently planned for installation in the United States with more than 90 active utility projects.
The report found that the momentum around smart grid and smart meter deployments has increased significantly in 2010. The second and third quarters included advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) smart meter deployment announcements covering 910,500 customers from five different utilities.
Vendor market shares remain fluid. Landis+Gyr apparently now stands as the number one manufacturer in terms of utility vendor selections, having overtaken Itron. Silver Spring Networks remains the leader in communications modules.
The report points out that a full rollout of smart meters can take several years and operational efficiency and consumer acceptance requires precise planning and wise technology decisions.
The point about consumer acceptance is particularly relevant given the news at the end of November of consumer resistance to a smart meter rollout in Maine, US. There had been complaints about the health, fire and security hazards of devices and it was subsequently discussed at a meeting of the Scarborough town council and Central Maine Power Co. (CPM) where residents expressed their concerns.
The Forecaster, the local paper, reported that the meeting went on for five hours but only managed to cover the health issues - another date has been set to discuss other concerns. But on the basis of the first meeting the Town Council has voted to ask the Maine Public Utilities Commission to prevent CPM from installing smart electric meters until more information about their safety is available and to provide an opt-out provision for customers who do not wish to have smart meters in their homes.
On the face of it it seems unlikely that smart meters are going to be harmful to health, or at least no more than home wi-fi networks or mobile phones and we hear little complaint about them. Security may well be a more significant issue, though.
Either way, action like this should give manufacturers food for thought. Smart meters will bring most benefit to utilities (and consumers) if everyone has one – partial deployment will reduce their appeal and potentially have a snowball effect as others drop out. Utilities need to be able to answer these sorts of concerns and take a convincing case to consumers.
(In the interest of impartiality, note that The Green IT Report is a supplier to Pike Research).
Sunday, 12 December 2010
GE, the US ‘infrastructure, finance and media’ conglomerate, plans, via its GE Appliances & Lighting operation, to be the first major appliance company to provide a home energy management (HEM) solution.
The new business will handle GE’s line of energy-management solutions and will also call on GE Energy products such as solar PV, energy storage, thin-film solar, small wind and residential electric car charging stations to help maximise the smart grid benefits.
The HEM is based round GE's Nucleus energy manager, which provides near real-time information about household energy costs and consumption. As well as monitoring energy usage, the system can be used to remotely adjust smart thermostats and alter the consumption of GE Profile Appliances in response to utility price signals.
The suite of HEM solutions being developed will include the Nucleus energy manager, a programmable thermostat, an energy display, smart phone applications and GE Profile Appliances.
Appliances fitted with GE’s Brillion technology can receive signals from the smart meter and are programmed to avoid energy usage during high-cost periods or to operate on a lower wattage setting. GE’s smart appliances includes Energy Star-certified refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers.
The plan is that future upgrades will allow the system to monitor water, natural gas and renewable energy sources, as well as plug-in electric vehicle charging.
The HEM market is certainly hotting up. It’s inevitably going to be a huge market if smart grids are going to be a success – a flexible grid is of no value unless consumers are willing and able to take advantage of that flexibility in terms of control over their energy use. It’s going to be a long haul, though. Smart grid implementations are at various stages around the world and rely on a range of different technologies with standards yet to emerge.
Meanwhile, a whole range of vendors – household appliance manufacturers, IT equipment suppliers, wi-fi network companies, etc – are all anxious not to be left out in the battle to control household electronic devices.
Friday, 10 December 2010
Pike Research published a report last week analysing the market for smart grid data analytics. The report concluded that the associated software and services will represent one of the largest growth opportunities in the utility sector over the next few years. From a relatively small global market of $356m in 2010, smart grid data analytics will reach $4.2bn annually by 2015. That’s an average annual growth rate of nearly 64%. In 2009 the software part of the market was only slightly smaller than the services segment, but by 2015 services will represent approximately two-thirds of utilities’ total spending for data analytics.
The report points out that as utilities move to the smart grid and as the grid expands with the installation of millions of smart meters and other devices, it’s going to be a challenge to effectively use the flood of data that will be generated. As industry analyst Marianne Hedin, who wrote the report, put it; “Smart grid utilities are evolving into brokers of information. The ‘data tsunami’ that will wash over utilities in the coming years is a formidable IT challenge, but it is also a huge opportunity to move beyond simple meter-to-cash functions and into more robust business intelligence capabilities.”
As is the case with all ‘new’ markets, it’s fragmented in terms of suppliers. According to the report, among the large IT players there are established companies such as Accenture, Capgemini, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAIC, SAP, Siemens and Teradata. Pure-play companies, mostly with meter data management (MDM) expertise, include Aclara Software, Ecologic Analytics, eMeter, Itron, Olameter, and NorthStar Utilities. And other contenders include companies as diverse as Infosys, OPOWER, OSIsoft, Telvent, and Toyota.
More details of the report and an executive summary are available here.
This is going to be an interesting market that will expand into all sorts of areas of utilities business (and potentially beyond), which is why there are still opportunities for a wide range of suppliers. It’s going to be a case-by-case sell as the utilities establish their priorities and focus, but some of the major players already have broad offerings and lots of experience – see my coverage of Teradata a few weeks ago.
By the way, one of the strengths of The Green IT Review is its vendor neutrality. If anyone we mention in the blog is a current or recent client or we have any business interest in anything else we comment on, then we will say so. To that end, note that I have recently written a research report for Pike Research. It’s not published yet, I’ll tell you more when it is.
Thursday, 9 December 2010
The latest version of Greenpeace’s Cool IT Leadership Board was released at the UNFCCC meeting in Cancun, Mexico yesterday. The Leadership Board is an evaluation of IT vendors’ ‘green’ performance based on:
• efforts to offer economy-wide technological climate solutions that contribute to global greenhouse gas reductions
• initiatives to reduce emissions from their own footprint
• active engagement in political advocacy and support for science based climate and energy policies.
Cisco and Ericsson remain at the top of the table with increased scores, but while both IBM and HP also increased their totals they were leapfrogged by Fujitsu and Google, who took third and fourth places respectively.
The most significant movers, though, (in a table with two new entrants – Oracle and Wipro) were Sony, up four places, Microsoft, down five places and SAP, down four places.
The full analysis is here, but perhaps the most interesting part is the changes in overall scores within the three areas. On a like-for-like basis the total scores for Climate Solutions and Energy Impact were up, i.e. overall the companies did better in these two aspects, with total scores up 23% and 52% respectively. But for political advocacy the score actually fell by 2%.
It was this advocacy aspect that was also the cause of most fluctuation in company scores and changes in the rankings. In its press release Greenpeace pointed out some of the factors involved:
Sony Europe joined Google to support the European Union's attempt to establish a target of 30% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2020, while Microsoft, Intel, and IBM received penalty points for being part of Business Europe’s opposition to the target.
Google, with support from Cisco and HP, helped to counter California's Proposition 23 ballot measure, which Greenpeace describes as a failed attempt by oil interests to derail the state's landmark global warming law, known as the ‘California Global Warming Solutions Act.’
Fujitsu scored high marks for its presentation of twelve specific climate and clean energy policy recommendations to the Japanese government, which is considering a law to reduce greenhouse gas emission 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. Apparently, the rest of the Japanese IT companies remained silent (and received a negative advocacy penalty) and the IT trade lobby JEITA opposed the draft legislation.
It’s the only ranking I’m aware of that attempts to assess IT companies on the extent to which they are actively involved in advocating green policy and legislation, and very valuable for that. If you really believe in climate change (and many IT companies are selling solutions based on that assumption) then stand up and be counted.
IT companies are going to be at the centre of action to address climate change so they have nothing to lose, but they can’t expect to be seen as green unless they actively support national and international action to address the problem.
Wednesday, 8 December 2010
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published a report called ‘Using ICTs to tackle climate change’, you can download it here.
Given that it was produced with the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), co-producer of the Smart 2020 report, it’s no surprise that the report concludes that ICT is of fundamental importance in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as in helping adapt to climate change and deal with its impact.
The report describes how ICT can achieve these goals in three main ways:
By driving down emissions in the ICT sector itself
By cutting emissions and raising energy efficiency in other sectors
By using ICT-based systems to monitor weather and the environment worldwide, as well as transmitting data, analysis and alerts.
The report finds that the environmental impact of ICT itself is being addressed through more efficient equipment and networks as well as better waste management. It points out that with a billion end users of ICT, for every watt of energy saved a whole power plant is made redundant.
At the same time, all sectors of the economy can reduce their energy needs and GHG emissions through ICT, for instance using smart grids to reduce emissions, promoting smart industries, smart logistics and using ICT to reduce or replace travel.
The report also highlights the crucial importance of ICT in monitoring and managing the impact of climate change. ICT has a role in monitoring the global environment/ecosystem, monitoring deforestation and forest degradation, addressing food security, water supply and transportation and waste management, increasing energy supply efficiency and in education and to raise awareness of climate change.
Much of this already relies on monitoring systems that use data from satellites as well as sensors on land and sea, which is where the ITU’s role comes in. The report also notes that broadband internet access is playing an increasing role in services that help to create a sustainable future.
ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré said; “I call on the international community to recognise that ICTs must be a key component of efforts to mitigate climate change, and that ICTs support what climate change threatens most: sustainable development,”.
This is all part of the COP-16 negotiations in Cancun. Under the 2007 Bali Action Plan (COP-13), ICT is included in actions to promote technology-based sustainable development, including mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change. This report calls for the inclusion of ICTs in national mitigation plans. It concludes quoting from a communiqué from ITU to COP-16; “delegates are urged to look to ICTs in the context of their own sectoral emissions to take maximum advantage of the power of ICTs to reduce emissions worldwide and to enhance action on adaptation, taking into account the needs of developing countries.”
The ITU and GeSI are already trying to do their bit. In November they agreed to formalise their cooperation in the area of measuring the impact of ICTs. It’s aimed at developing a standardised common methodology which will be recognised globally for the measurement of the GHG emissions of ICTs themselves and the reduction of emissions enabled by ICTs in other sectors.
This report seems to take the Smart 2020 report further by stressing the impact of ICT in monitoring and managing climate change. It’s an aspect of green IT I’ve been banging on about for some time. Climate change is happening, so we need the systems in place to understand the long-term changes, but also (eventually) the local/real-time detail so that systems can adapt to the impact, for example, of extreme climate events on supply chains. It’s not comfortable to think about, but it’s the world that we’re heading for.
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
The Green Grid is a non-profit IT industry consortium dedicated to promoting energy efficiency in data centres. It defines models and metrics, and develops standards and best practice procedures as well as promoting the adoption of energy-efficiency measures. The organisation’s promotion of the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric, which compares total data centre power consumption with that consumed by the IT equipment, is now a standard measure of data centre power efficiency.
Now the organisation has announced two new metrics designed to help improve the sustainability of data centre facilities by measuring the effectiveness of carbon and water use. The new metrics are called Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE) and the Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE – due in Q1 2011). CUE will help managers determine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated in delivering work from the IT equipment, while WUE will assess the amount of water used by the facility and to deliver work from IT operations.
A white paper outlining the new CUE metric and its calculation are available from The Green Grid’s Web site. WUE details will be available when it is released.
An interesting development. The first thing that springs to mind is what carbon is included in the CUE? The Green Grid is clear on the point; ‘Both CUE and PUE simply cover the operations of the data centre. They do not cover the full environmental burden of the life-cycle of the data centre and IT equipment’. The (understandable) reason is that attempting to determine the carbon generated in the manufacturing and shipping of the IT equipment and the data centre would make it too difficult to use.
On this basis, then, if all the energy in the data centre comes directly from the grid, the CUE will be the same as the PUE (since there will be a common conversion factor for power to emissions). Only if there is some local generation are the figures likely to differ. There is some devil in the detail, but the Green Grid is working on that. The WUE is likely to be more complex, which might explain the later launch.
Monday, 6 December 2010
The German arm of environment organisation WWF has released a file format described as a ‘PDF that cannot be printed out’. The organisation is advocating it as a way to avoid unnecessary printing, save trees and help the environment. Users can decide which documents don't need printing out and then save them in the WWF format.
It works by showing a ‘Save as WWF’ choice in the print menu as an alternative to the installed printers, so the format can be used for a range of documents, including emails, websites, messages, CVs, etc. In the Mac version you can also change any documents you want to WWF format using a converter. WWF docs are shown with the WWF file symbol and a page is automatically added to the end of each document explaining the purpose of the new file format to first-time users (although this can be turned off). If you want a copy of the software, you can download it here.
Well, personally I don’t want other people deciding what documents I may need to print out.
Say I’ve downloaded the information I need to my desktop PC, but can’t print it out. If I need to have that information with me what do I do? Well the most likely scenario is that I switch on my aging PC and wait while it boots up (using fossil fuel-based energy). I look at the file, but can’t print the information, so I take a piece of paper and write down the important details (or just print a screen image). Where’s the saving?
But it could be worse than that. Perhaps the most important aspect of sustainability is that we are all in it together. It’s going to be counter-productive to try and force people to be green and if you send someone a document that they can’t print, that’s what you are doing. Even if printing was just restricted to a few pages it would be better. (In any case, I bet there will very soon be some free software to circumvent the restriction.)
Perhaps this is just an attempt to raise awareness of deforestation, which is a good thing. But, in my view, imposing green IT is not a long-term solution.
(Thanks to greenIT.fr)
Friday, 3 December 2010
Nike has released its Environmental Apparel Design Tool in an effort to further industry sustainability efforts. The company believes that making this green IT tool open source will accelerate collaboration between companies, fast-track sustainable innovation and decrease the use of natural resources like oil and water.
The tool rates how apparel designs score in reducing waste and increasing the use of environmentally preferred materials. The software, which helps designers make real-time choices, has been designed and built by Nike over the last seven years at a cost of $6m.
The Nike football jerseys produced for South Africa 2010 are cited as examples of the tool success in producing the most environmentally-friendly and technologically-advanced kits in football's history. Made from 100% recycled polyester, the material choice apparently diverted 13 million plastic bottles from landfill.
Hannah Jones, Vice President of Nike Sustainable Business and Innovation, said that; “By releasing the tool we want others to improve on it and we hope to inspire further collaboration to create global industry standards for a level playing field, encourage widespread industry adoption of sustainable design practices and have more sustainable products available for the consumer.”
Nike will also be releasing its Footwear Design Tool, Material Assessment Tool and Water Assessment Tool in 2011. It’s all a follow up to the company’s announcement earlier this year of GreenXchange, a web-based marketplace for collaboration and sharing intellectual property around sustainability business models.
It all sounds highly commendable. No company is going to have all the answers (or even know what all the questions are), so sharing knowledge and collaborating around solutions is the most effective way forward. It’s the sort of mindset that will be essential if we are going to effectively combat climate change and other sustainability issues.
If only our leaders in Cancun would act in the same open and collaborative way.
EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) the green electronics rating system, has announced plans to expand through collaboration with international standards and testing organisations.
EPEAT comes from the Green Electronics Council in the US and is the leader in assessing lifecycle environmental standards. The programme evaluates computer desktops, laptops and monitors on 51 environmental criteria and awards EPEAT Bronze, Silver or Gold certification. EPEAT now covers 41 countries, 45 participating manufacturers and more than 3,200 environmentally preferable electronic products.
To meet the growing demand for EPEAT registration, the organisation will engage with a network of environmental and technical certification, testing and standards groups around the world to qualify products to the IEEE 1680 family of ‘green electronics’ standards and identify products as EPEAT Bronze, Silver or Gold.
To achieve this the organisation has signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with a group of technical and environmental assessment organisations. The idea is to offer participating manufacturers choice of where they go for certification while maintaining credibility and consistency of the EPEAT registry. Additional groups are expected to join the network, but at the moment the organisations signed up are:
• Intertek (global testing and certification organisation - US)
• Environment and Development Foundation (environmental certification/labelling organisation - Taiwan)
• VDE Testing and Certification Institute (international testing and certification body - Germany)
• China Electronic Standardisation Institute (standards and certification body - China)
• China Environmental United Certification Centre (certification and eco-labelling body - China)
• Industrial Technology Research Institute/Beautiful Life Education Foundation (certification and testing organisation, environmental foundation partnership - Taiwan).
EPEAT is looking to the collaboration to broaden the support services available to manufacturers by language, regional base and verification method, while close central collaboration will maintain consistency and quality assurance. Jeff Omelchuck, EPEAT’s Executive Director said that; “(the collaboration) .. opens the system to multiple participants who will work with us to broaden and strengthen the registration services available to manufacturers worldwide.”
This sounds like a very good move. EPEAT had already significantly expanded the certification to international products, i.e. product models available outside the US. This move makes it truly international, which should give the ratings system more global credibility.
It’s important to make standards universal, rather than having lots of competing national and international systems that cloud the water and confuse potential purchasers. One standard green IT certification for PCs, administered by different organisations internationally, fits the bill and EPEAT seems to be heading in the right direction.
Thursday, 2 December 2010
GreenIT.fr has carried out an interesting analysis of the power savings made as the result of the recent launch of Google’s Instant Search capabilities (apparently only in six countries as yet). Instant Search is where Google displays results as the user types in their search text.
It seems that, according to Google, it used to take nine seconds for a search, but Instant Search saves two to five seconds of that. The net result is that if people around the world were all using Instant Search it would save 3.5 billion seconds processing time per day in total.
GreenIT.fr has done the sums to translate this figure into kWh and CO2 emissions. The result is that it would save nearly 80 million kWh per year, or 35,875 tonnes of CO2 and several million dollars. According to my calculations, that’s the equivalent of taking nearly 6000 (US) cars of the road (based on US EPA figures).
For those interested, the calculations went as follows:
There are 31,536,000 seconds in one year (365 days x 24 hours x 60 minutes x 60 seconds). So Google saves 111 years of use of a PC running 365x24. The average power of a PC (plus screen) when in use is 82 watts and a year is 8,760 hours, so the savings are 79,722 kWh (111 years * 8760 hours * 82 W/h), hence 35,875,000 kg of CO2 (with an emission factor of 0.450 kg CO2/kWh).
Well I’m not sure the maths is exactly right, or the assumptions made, but it does go to show the impact of even very minor changes in IT processes when it’s on a global scale.
It brings home the impact that software can have on reducing processing time and hence power use, which has had little focus as yet. Image what could be saved if all ERP systems, for example, were increased in efficiency so as to reduce their processing time by just a few seconds a day – enormous power (and emissions) savings could be made. It’s not something we hear about, but it must be an area of future green IT focus.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Greenstone’s offering has been enhanced in three general areas. Firstly, it now incorporates supply chain and product carbon footprinting capabilities, apparently it’s in response to the pressure that FMCG companies have been putting on their suppliers to provide information on environmental performance indicators. Secondly, offset and allowance management has been included so that voluntary carbon credits purchased can be recorded, as well as the purchase of allowances for the CRC Energy Efficiency scheme in the UK. The addition of a carbon balance sheet means that credits and allowances can now also be recorded in financial terms. Thirdly, the product has more comprehensive analysis and an improved reporting dashboard to allow more detailed analysis of carbon emissions and cost data.
Matthew de Villiers, Chief Executive Officer at Greenstone Carbon Management, said, “ … development priorities are focused on real client requirements. Management of supply chain and product emissions are still at an evolutionary stage in the market but a number of our clients and prospects are now focusing on these areas, having got control of their own operational emissions. This release also addresses the need for increasingly detailed data analysis, often at an operational unit level, as more mature clients move from simply measuring and reporting to the development of more detailed management and reduction strategies”. Acco2unt is now deployed in more than 32 organisations in over 75 countries
• Meanwhile, Enxsuite (previously known as Carbonetworks) has continued its product development into energy management with release 6.0 of its energy performance management software, which includes open web services API for SmartGrid and Building Energy Management integration.
Other enhancements include multi-dimensional reporting capabilities, organisational change management and baseline recalculations, a new energy portfolio manager, a utility invoice and reconciliation manager and a ‘revolutionary’ new user interface.
The company claims that the product will better incorporate all of an organisation’s stakeholders, including citizens, employees, suppliers and partners, who are often involved in energy management and sustainability programmes.
Enxsuite maintains that it has led the trend towards energy management with its suite of energy and sustainability offerings currently managing over $1.2bn in energy for organisations in more than 40 countries around the world.
I’ve changed my views on the carbon management software market in the last couple of months (a discussion with Matthew de Villiers at Greenstone was a contributing factor). My initial view was that most of the market would be taken by accounting software add-on modules, given the existing investment in these solutions. Whilst this may still be true, I’m increasingly convinced that there will remain a significant market for more dedicated and sophisticated solutions from the likes of the companies above.
The simpler solutions, such as those supplied as accounting system modules and the CRC-specific tools that have appeared in the UK, will be enough for many, but as soon as it starts to get complicated, or users want to actively manage carbon emissions, then something better is required. It’s potentially too complicated to stitch on to existing systems, and in any case CSR operations will want more-and-more tools and reporting capabilities, as well as control of the solution, rather than leave it with accounts.
I’ve written more on this aspect of green ICT on the Guardian’s Sustainable Business site.