Reducing Australia’s ICT Greenhouse Emissions & the Role of Labelling
Tom Worthington FACS HLM
ACS Green ICT Special Interest Group Convenor, Australian Computer Society
For Labelling Workshop - Computers and Monitors, Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) Team, Department of Climate Change
Sydney, 8 February 2008
A study sponsored by the Australian Computer Society has shown that computers and telecommunications equipment in Australia generated 7.94Mt of carbon dioxide in 2005, 1.52% of national emissions. The ACS issued a Policy Statement for Green ICT, which includes suggestions on initiatives ICT professionals, government, consumers and ICT manufacturers can take to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions attributable to the use of ICT equipment. To make it easier for consumers and professionals, the ACS argues that clear standards and mandatory labelling of equipment is needed. Tom Worthington, chair of the ACS Green IT Group, will talk about practical steps which can be taken and some new low power computers which are pushing the envelope with energy saving.
Comparing IT emissions and other industries
... ICT use by Australian Businesses generated 7.94Mt of carbon dioxide in 2005, equivalent to 1.52% of total national carbon dioxide emissions ... comparable in size to ... civil aviation ... 0.97% ...metal production ... 2.3% ... cement industry ... 1%. ...
Quantifying IT emissions
This audit uses a base set of power consumption figures to calculate the demand/usage by each business. These base figures (per device) are then multiplied by the numbers of employees who use ICT equipment (for desktop/workstation computer contribution), server and LAN configuration (for computer network contribution), and telephone handset numbers (for office telephone system contribution) ... Workstation/Personal Computer 300 Watt full power 85 W standby ... Computer Monitor 75 W 5W ... High Performance Server 425 W ...
Green credentials in the buying decision: regulations
Australian and New Zealand energy efficiency regulators are proposing to recommend mandating energy performance standards from not earlier than October 2009, or more than 3 years after they were first adopted as Energy Star levels. ...
Impact of ignoring green
Organisations without Green ICT will have increased costs and fewer markets.
The ACS recommended for Green ICT:
- Extending the Energy Rating System to ICT equipment for domestic and commercial use
- Innovative technologies to reduce power consumption
- Carbon offsets to help offset the emissions being produced by ICT equipment used in the office
- Virtualisation to replace servers
- Disable screen savers and implement ‘sleep mode’ for inactive equipment.
- Policy Statement on Green ICT, 16 August 2007
Action at Every Level
- International: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
- National: Emissions Trading Standards
- State: Canberra Technology City
- Company: News Corporation Launches Global Energy Initiative
- Professional: Adapting web pages for Smartphones, PDAs and Ultra-Mobile PCs
Professionals on Green Issues
The ICT Environmental Sustainability Group ("Green ICT") brings together professionals interested in balancing economic and environmental aspects of information technology and telecommunications. It is a special interest group of the Australian Computer Society. The group aims to hold joint meetings with other professional bodies interested in technology, the environment and sustainability.
Thin Client Low Power Computers
Thin Client Linux Computer for Consumers
Zonbu , are offering a thin client Linux computer for $US249.00. They include a data storage service and the application software in the price. If you pay for more online storage on a long term plan the cost of the hardware is lower.
In effect, the computer is sold in a similar way to a mobile phone plan: the more you pay for the monthly service and the longer you commit to the cheaper the hardware is. The service comes with OpenOffice.com and other typical Linux desktop software. A broadband Internet connection for the unit to be usable. This might be a good option for some home users and micro businesses. The business could simply plug the computer in and use it: if it breaks, then get another one, with the data stored on the remote on the server.
Larger businesses and government agencies could use the same hardware, but supplying their own servers for data and backup. Companies which use electronic document management systems could use those systems to store corporate documents created by the client computers.
Carbon Neutral Computers?
- Zonbu claim carbon neutral computer: "... by buying carbon offsets, we make the operation of your Zonbu device completely carbon neutral ..."
- Via claim Carbon Free Computing: "... VIA calculates how much carbon dioxide emissions will be released into the environment mainly as a result of fossil fuel burning power plants, and then works with regional offset organizations to "offset" that amount of carbon dioxide through projects ..."
Zonbu claim carbon neutral computer:
With Zonbu, green doesn't have to make you blue! With its efficient ultra low power design, Zonbu delivers the power of a traditional desktop computer but uses just a fraction of the energy. That could mean as much as $10 a month in energy savings for you — and might just help save the planet, too. Not only does Zonbu's low power design reduce CO2 emissions, but by buying carbon offsets, we make the operation of your Zonbu device completely carbon neutral. Talk about guilt-free computing!
Via claim Carbon Free Computing:
VIA Carbon Free Computing addresses this issue head on, aimed at offering the world's first line of PC products certified Carbon Free. VIA works with environmental experts to calculate the electricity used by an average Carbon Free Computing product over its lifetime (assumed to be 3 years). Then from the amount of electricity used, VIA calculates how much carbon dioxide emissions will be released into the environment mainly as a result of fossil fuel burning power plants, and then works with regional offset organizations to "offset" that amount of carbon dioxide through projects such as: * Reforestation ... Alternative Energy ... Energy conservation ...
Thin Clients for Business?
- Thin clients for office applications and as telephones.
- No documents on the desktop: corporate server, or EDMS.
- AJAX for bespoke and corporate applications, such as payroll and finance.
- Servers consolidated to energy efficient data centers.
- Implement across business in 2008?
Thin client computers can offer benefits beyond environmental ones. As an example thin clients can replace desktop PCs for those workers only needing standard office applications. The thin client can also replace a digital telephone. Corporate applications, such as payroll and finance can be provided to the desktop using the web browser and interactive web applications, such as AJAX. Corporate documents can be retained in central file servers and Electronic Document Management Systems. This removes the need to maintain as much software on the desktop and increases the security of corporate data.
Servers can be consolidated into efficient and easier to manage data centers. These can take advantage of low power disks, processors and green power.
- Why label ICT equipment?
- Should any labelling scheme be voluntary or mandatory?
- What is the best way to implement a label for ICT equipment?
- Any additions to proposals needed?
Why label ICT equipment?
Both professionals and the general public need an easy to understand way to identify low energy products. The Federal Government's Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) Team have carried out a detailed analysis and propose to use similar labelling to that already familiar to the general public on other household appliances:
- Final Report on Community Attitudes to the Possibility of Energy Efficiency Labelling of Television Sets and Home Computers, 2007
- E3 Committee Analysis of the Potential for Minimum Energy Performance Standards for Computers and Monitors, 2007
Should any labelling scheme be voluntary or mandatory?
The ACS supports the proposed energy efficiency standards for personal computers and monitors. The Australian proposals are based on the US Energy Star system, but with mandatory compliance. This will have the advantage of removing low energy efficiency computers from the market. This will result in a few dollars additional cost for more energy efficient power supplies. This is affordable and the cost will be recovered by the user in electricity costs saved, over the life of the equipment.
What is the best way to implement a label for ICT equipment?
The Australia proposal to issue one star for "white box" (locally assembled) computers which use an energy efficient power supply is a reasonable way to allow local importers of equipment to continue to sell their products, without imposing too high a regulatory burden.
Any additions to proposals needed?
One deficiency in the ENERGY STAR computer specifications V4.0, is that they do not take account of the advances in the latest ultra low power desktop computers. New desktop computers can consume less than 20 Watts, which is far less than the smallest 50 W category in the standard. Consideration should be given for a new category of "thin client" desk top computers of 25 Watts or less.
- Policy Statement on Green ICT, 16 August 2007
- ACS reveals ICT's Carbon Footprint, Media release, 16 August 2007
- Audit of Carbon Emissions resulting from ICT usage by Australian Business, ACS, 16 August 2007
- ACS Green ICT Group
- Tom Worthington
- This document is available at: http://www.tomw.net.au/technology/it/ict_greenhouse_emissions/
Slides for these notes are also available.
Copyright © 2008 Tom Worthington
This work by Tom Worthington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License.