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Green Computing Approaches: Sustainability With Green IT

21-05-22

Green IT, green computing or sustainable IT. Three phrases to describe the same thing, yet almost an oxymoron in itself. How can IT be green, when the nature of computing opposes that idea? So what is green IT?

What Is Green IT?

Green IT refers to the manufacturing, usage, management and disposal of technology with the purpose of minimising carbon footprints and any negative impact on the environment.

As technology has advanced, the negative impact on the planet has exponentially increased. Most electronic devices are often made with non-biodegradable materials and toxic materials, including lead, cadmium, mercury and more.

As time goes on, and as these devices are disposed of, their non-biodegradable nature means they don’t break down properly.

If they are not disposed of correctly, which is often the case, these materials can cause pollution, be harmful to animals and contaminate our food and water.

When disposed of, these toxic materials may begin to leak into the earth, getting into the things we consume.

Furthermore, aside from the raw materials needed, technology consumes a lot of power to both manufacture and maintain.

To create these devices, a vast amount of power is needed. And it’s not over after that. Data is constantly being created, shared, and stored.

The quantity of servers, data centres and more is increasing to keep up with the ever-increasing demand. All this hardware requires an immense amount of power to not only run but even to cool down.

Why Is Green IT Important?

Green IT is important for a number of reasons. All modern-day businesses, both big and small, are reliant on technology to run efficiently and effectively.

The average worker is using desktop computers, laptops, tablets or smartphones, if not all of them. We are connected to servers all day every day, even when we are not working.

At the rate technology is advancing, we often replace these devices after just a few years.

In some cases, even less. Perhaps you have a phone contract that renews every 12 or 18 months. What do you do with your old device? Do you trade it in or hand it down to a family member or friend? Do you donate it to charity? It can be hard to sell an old phone, but it’s definitely possible.

The answer could quite possibly be yes to any of the above, but a lot of the population don’t usually do that. An individual here and there adds up to thousands, if not more.

As a business, they account for hundreds or thousands of devices depending on the size of the business. This means businesses generally waste resources, renewing devices in favour of more advanced technology, or using an unnecessary energy consumption through unsustainable services and or hardware.

Upgrading devices for more advanced technology doesn’t have to be a bad thing, however. It is vital that you ensure your IT systems are as sustainable as they can be, by adopting green computing approaches.

From small to big companies, we all play a part in looking after our environment. Environmentally responsible computing is even more important than ever.

Furthermore, governments are starting to push and tighten legislation, basically forcing these sustainable choices. By making these changes now, it can be on your own terms, minimising the increased costs of leaving it too late.

So with that in mind, what are the key advantages of green computing?

Green Computing Advantages

  • Green computing reduces energy consumption by reducing fossil fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions
  • It reduces cooling and power consumption
  • It emphasises the effective and efficient usage of natural and finite resources
  • It reduces the usage of toxic materials, therefore, reducing health hazards for both humans and wildlife
  • It promotes the recycling of materials to reduce waste, and therefore, pollution
  • It is cost-effective and energy-efficient as it requires less power consumption and cooling need

Green Computing Initiatives

There are many green computing initiatives you can begin working on to reduce your carbon footprint, without sacrificing efficiency and productivity. These include:

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing refers to the process of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet, in order to store, manage, and process data, as opposed to using a local physical server or a personal computer. It is also one of the easiest green computing initiatives. Find out more about what cloud computing is here.

Cloud computing is just another way of backing up data, and because cloud computing requires fewer resources, it can reduce energy consumption and your carbon footprint.

Cloud computing is often associated with cost savings compared to on-premise options.

If your company stores all or most of your company data on on-premise servers, it may be worth considering opting for cloud clouding. On top of the energy and cost savings, it is exceptionally useful for remote and hybrid working. We will get onto the benefits of working from home later on.

Furthermore, on-premise servers take up space and require both power to stay on, as well as cooling systems to maintain them. Altogether, these require an extraordinarily high energy demand and aren’t energy efficient.

Although the environmental impact of cloud data centres is high, it’s much lower than the alternative of every business using their own on-premise server. Plus, with economies of scale, we can leave the efficiency to the experts, allowing for positive financial savings.

Businesses also generally under-utilise their physical servers. Unlike cloud hosting, where you only use what you need, if your company only uses 1 terabyte of data, but your server is built to store 10 terabytes, you will still need to pay for the complete server.

Despite not using all of the storage space, larger servers require more energy consumption to both power and cool down the systems. You may think to opt for a smaller server, but for a business wanting to scale up, that might become a limiting factor.

With cloud computing, all your data is stored in the cloud, a secure, virtual computing centre. You only pay for what you use, and it doesn’t require additional on-premise equipment, aside from the devices you work from such as your laptop.

For a flexible, affordable and sustainable option, check out our cloud hosting solution options here.

Working From Home

Face to face contact is excellent for both the well-being and productivity of your employees, that can’t be denied, but having the flexibility to sometimes work in the office or to sometimes work from home is just as beneficial.

Not only is it also beneficial for both the well-being and productivity of the employee, but also beneficial for the well-being of the planet. We can benefit from the sustainability working from home, or hybrid working promotes. Find out more about what hybrid working is here.

The pandemic proved that working from home can be a viable long-term option and that businesses can continue to operate productively and efficiently following a remote working strategy.

Businesses may find it a chore to adopt green IT approaches, but the reality is that most green IT approaches are energy efficient and saves them money long-term.

Remote working can directly reduce the carbon footprint of both the individual and the company. Firstly, there is less time spent commuting with public transport and or private transport. Fewer trains, fewer buses and fewer cars all reduce pollution.

There is also reduced energy consumption (as well as lower overhead costs!) from working from home. With employees working from home more often, you use much less power, such as less lighting, heating or air conditioning, and general power consumption.

There are a few considerations of hybrid or remote working, and it is important to have strong remote working policies in place. One of which is cloud collaboration tools. Using a cloud collaboration tool is vital for remote working, and will save you energy, time and money whilst reducing your carbon footprint.

There are many collaboration tools out there, however, we recommend a Microsoft 365 business plan, which provides everything you need in one place to keep your remote teams productive from wherever they are, whenever they are.

Recycling Old Equipment

As said before, if old equipment is not disposed of correctly, it can be very damaging to the environment. When it is time to discard your old equipment, you need to make sure it’s disposed of environmentally and sustainably.

Hardware can be recycled and used to create new equipment, or donated to charities, schools, and universities, just to name a few. Metals, plastic and other components can also be recycled for other uses, such as to create completely different equipment.

Recycling computing equipment can prevent those toxic substances like lead, cadmium, mercury and more, from reaching landfills, and leaking into the earth.

One thing to note when destroying or donating old equipment is that files deleted from hard drives are still recoverable, so any sensitive information will be at risk if it is not safely destroyed.

Power Management

Another green computing initiative is advanced power management, and effective power management settings can be easily implemented in your company if it isn’t partially already.

One way to upgrade your power management is through the Advanced Configuration & Power Interface. ACPI is the industry standard, meaning most devices will have some form of this being used. ACPI allows systems to turn off components such as hard drives and monitors automatically after a certain period of being inactive. Think of standby mode on your laptop or television.

When looking at power management, some programs may even enable you to adjust CPU voltages manually thus reducing heat generation and increasing energy efficiency. You can also opt for more sustainable hard drives, such as hard drive disks with smaller form factors or solid-state drives.

Hard disk drives with a form factor of 2.5 inches consume less energy than larger hard disk drives per gigabyte, and solid-state drives (SSDs) store data in flash memory or dynamic random access memory (known as DRAM). Because there are no moving parts within them, they promote higher energy efficiency.

Green Computing Challenges

Whilst green computing may seem easy and cost-effective, it still poses a few challenges.

While green computing approaches can be extremely beneficial in the long term, there are still challenges companies face when trying to implement them. Some of these challenges include:

  • Frequent technology upgrades and changes can be confusing, and alienate stakeholders. Not all stakeholders are tech-savvy, and even if they are, they still might struggle to keep up.
  • The initial cost of green IT solutions can be quite high. However, long-term it is often much more cost-effective, with cloud computing solutions offering extreme flexibility when scaling up.
  • There isn’t a lot of information on green computing, and there is a knowledge gap for many businesses and professionals.
  • Businesses don’t have enough time to make, collect and analyse data, plus make the necessary decisions. Green computing can be shoved to the bottom of the pile. However, a good IT support team should be able to advise and educate.

How ITE Services Can Help You With Green Computing

 

Remaining tech-savvy, whilst adopting green IT approaches can be challenging, especially without a dedicated team with years of technical experience. Fortunately, the team has a plethora of industry experience and knowledge and can recommend the best green computing options available.

Here at ITE Services, we can help your company adopt green computing, with one of our cost-effective and sustainable plans. From cloud hosting solutions, cloud collaboration tools and more, we can offer flexible support packages to suit the needs of any business, both big and small.

Get in contact today and receive a free IT support quote.