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Green Computing Brings Environmental Benefits and More

written by: ciel s cantoria•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 5/11/2011

The benefits of green computing have transcended beyond the minimal effects of portable & handheld computing devices. Green IT technologies & other computing initiatives have enabled people from all over the world to interact as one global community without worsening the CO2 emissions & the E-wastes

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    Interacting in a Global Economy Through Green Computing

    energy star 

    Green computing has drawn people from all over the world into becoming one global community. Businesses have become more dynamic, while friends and families from all over the world are kept even closer. Almost everyone has benefited from all that can be shared and transmitted in real time with less environmental aggravation, which is contrary to what was previously feared.

    During the 1997 International Energy Efficiency Appliance Conference, Dr. Alan Meier from, Lawrence National Berkeley Laboratory, announced that standby energy used by computers accounts for 1 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. As a matter of fact, the U.S. alone, accounts for more than 97 billion pounds of carbon dioxide that goes into the atmosphere every year.

    Studies have shown that almost half of the electrical energy drawn out of the wall by a typical desktop computer is being wasted because energy hardly reaches the processor, the hard drives, the memory disks and other peripherals.

    Now, consider the advent and use of Energy Star-compliant computers, the availability of smaller amd thinner monitors for less energy consumption, and the surge protectors which automatically cut-off power that is not in use. They may have minimal effects as stand-alone equipment, but if multiplied by the millions of users on a global scale, these green computing technologies reduce electrical energy consumption and likewise lessen CO2 emissions

    Super computers, data centers, and servers have greater impacts on the environment compared to the desktop PCs. Yet they are able to operate in our midst by harnessing green technologies and make possible better business and working conditions like telecommuting, offshore outsourcing and paperless meetings. All of which are geared toward maintaining and sustaining the advantages of green computing for a better environment on a global scale.

    Image Credit: Everaldo Coelho and YellowIcon for Wikimedia Commons

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    A Closer Look at Green Computing Technologies and Their Positive Impact

    1. Green computing helps minimize CO2 emissions by using green technology and IT systems that harness renewable energy sources, instead of drawing out power from fossil-fueled electric grids.

    Focus your attention on the enormous data centers that consume as much as 150 watts per square foot in a typical 9,000 square foot structure with three storey levels. In fact, economists called them “energy hogs" and their estimates foretell of increasing CO2 emissions four-fold by 2020.

    Computer giants in the industry currently utilize greener resources and harness green technology to lessen if not minimize their carbon footprint.

    IBM and its “Aquasar" Cooling System- The closed circuit cooling system has an energy efficiency of about 450 megaflops per watt while the system uses hot water to reduce the power consumption of the supercomputer stationed at the "Swiss Federal Institute Technology Zurich". The thermal power contributes additional energy of nine kilowatts to the building’s heating system.

    As a note, megaflop is the unit of measurement for computer speed, stated as: “A million floating point operations per second".

    HP Labs Data Center in a Dairy Farm – Rural areas are where animal manure power is abundant and HP Labs Design is utilizing a "Farm Waste Data Center Ecosystem". This refers to a farm of 10,000 cows that provide methane gas to power up a typical modern data center and the dairy farm. In addition, the data centers help the other rural famers get rid of their farm wastes.

    Google’s Sustainable Operations – Google, which thrives on data centers is well-known for being at the forefront of advocating the benefits of green computing.The company's data centers rely on Google-designed edifices that utilize only half the energy used by a typical data center. Accordingly, the energy used per Google search consumes only about 0.0003 kWh with roughly about 0.2g of CO2 emission. Google is out to prove that sustainability in energy use is possible and is quite active in encouraging other data centers to do the same,

    Please proceed to the next page for the benefits that can be derived from green computing initiatives.

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    Know the best practices in using green computer technologies and consider them as your tips on how to benefit from green computing. Harnessing renewable energy, and using only recyclable computers, components and green gadgets, are only a few of the ways you can contribute to lessen the carbon emissions and the e-wastes that degrade and destroy our natural environment. Appreciate their energy-efficiency not as a single unit but by being counted among the millions being used on a global scale.
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    Green Computing Initiatives for a Better Environment

    2. There are also the green initiatives being implemented and imposed on computer manufacturers as a means to eliminate the production of more e-wastes that deplete, degrade and spoil the environment.

    Accordingly, each pound of computer generates about two pounds of electronic discards and it comprises 70% of all hazardous wastes present in the environment. These are generated by conventional computers whose manufacturers make use of lead for soldering, selenium in circuit boards and power supply, mercury to illuminate backlights, cadmiums in semi-conductors, and not to forget the manufacture of micro-chips that make use of some of the most potent gases like arsine, chorine, phosgene and silane.

    The Take-Back System - Some of these materials have not been eliminated since alternative materials could affect the efficiency of the computer. In order to resolve this issue, the "take-back" practice is now in place as a way of abating the mounting electronic wastes that flood the landfills. Under the take-back programs, computer manufacturers are giving incentives as a way to encourage their consumers to give back their electronic wastes. That way, the hazardous materials in their computers can be recycled or repurposed to ensure proper waste management.

    The Phaseout of PVCs and BFRs- Most computer manufacturers are making good on their commitments to phase-out products with PVC plastics and BFR, while PVC/BFR-free electronic devices have been introduced in the global markets.

    Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and its use in computers for insulation and coating for electrical cable wires have been phased-out by most computer manufacturers. Recycling is not an option because PVCs tend to leach and contaminate even indoor environments.

    Brominated flame retardants or BFRs have also been phased-out. Formerly, these materials were added to components in order to inhibit accidental ignition and to retard the combustion. Its mere presence in the environment is said to be capable of bioaccumulating in animals and humans, as their emissions are released by industrialized areas, particularly those that produce electronic products.

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    Tips for Sustaining the Advantages of Green Computing

    800px-Netbook Autark-Set 

    Below are some quick and simple tips that can help sustain the benefits of green computing:

    • Ascertain that the product is genuinely green: Check if the gadget has an EPEAT or Energy Star rating, which denotes that the product meets the requirements for green certifications.

    Invest only in recycled/recyclable computers, components and peripherals: Read reviews and feedback from consumer organizations that advocate green products. Look for those that make of use sustainable low impact methods and materials. Some examples include die cutting processes, non-toxic white glue and non-toxic flame retardants.

    • Use devices that can store renewable energy: Harness charging devices that make use of solar power, designed for portable and home use. There are also the rechargeable batteries, but stay away from those that are alkaline-based. The most recent developments in rechargeable batteries use lithium-titanium, considered as safer and have longer life cycles.
    • Reduce standby power consumption: Use power strips that instantly turn-off electronic equipment that tends to remain idle for a specific period of time. .
    • Green printing: Avoid printing and reading documents on the PC screen. If you have to print, reduce the settings to 300 dots-per-inch and print on both sides. Consider refilling ink cartridges,soy-based inks or toners and eco-fonts as greener alternatives.

    Image Credit: Reinraum for Wikimedia Commons

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      Many have foretold that globalization would increase power consumption by several folds and that it will result to more CO2 emissions. Yet the advent of green computer technologies brought forth global communications which made possible the success of going-green campaigns for earth-friendly initiatives. As a result, the use of computers has lessened the environmental aggravation caused by excessive energy use and mounting e-wastes.

      In addition, the realization of globalization is considered as one of the most important benefits of green computing, because it paved the way for world wide interaction through energy-efficient and cost-effective global communications.

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      • By Firth, Simon: The cow-powered data center Copyright: 2011 Hewlett Packard Development Company, L.P.
      • IBM Hot Water-Cooled Supercomputer Goes Live at ETH Zurich- Press Release July 02 2010 -