Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Google's Latest Venture, Coal-Free Power

Google, the corporation that loves to invest in the triple-bottom line, announced yesterday it will be pouring tens of millions of dollars into research and development for renewable energy sources in 2008. While renewable energy as an environmental measure is a popular bandwagon to jump on these days, co-founder Larry Page expects the company to see returns "on a reasonable time scale," either in the form of higher stock prices of the companies it invests in or in the sale of licensing solar and other technologies it develops.

As the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports, Google wants to find cheaper, more reliable energy to run its power hungry datacenters. Google typically avoids the question of just how much power its datacenters actually consume; some estimate it costs the company as much as $2 million a month. It's no wonder Google wants to invest in a cheaper source.

But Google isn't the only company that stands to gain; its goal is to develop technology that makes clean energy sources less expensive than coal, something beneficial for the entire nation, not to mention the world.

To learn more click here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Go Green, Not Broke

In part 3 of a 4 part series on Green Computing on, Jeremy Faludi gives businesses a tip for going green in IT without breaking the bank.

The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT, is a system that helps purchasers evaluate, compare and select desktop computers, notebooks and monitors based on their environmental attributes. It ranks a computer's eco-friendliness in a manner similar to the way in which LEED certification ranks buildings, on a tiered system of Bronze, Silver and Gold. However, unlike LEED, which can be costly and time-consuming, EPEAT is absolutely free and can be implemented quickly.

The difference with EPEAT is that it places the onus of eco-responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the manufacturers, who then pick and choose which criteria they will adhere to. So far only 12 desktops qualify for EPEAT Gold status.

To learn more click here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pass Your PC a Turkey Leg

While you’re napping off this year’s turkey-induced tryptophan high, your PC at work should be doing the same. After all, you’re taking a long, four-day weekend. Shouldn’t your computer be taking a rest as well?

Unfortunately, for the majority of corporate computers, this isn’t the case. Consider these surprising statistics, which suggest that the risk of excessive energy waste is high this coming holiday weekend:

  • There are an estimated 43 million active computers across the US in businesses of 300 employees or more
  • Sixty percent of enterprise PCs are normally left running at full-power after business hours

What this means is that, among those mid to large-sized organizations, more than 25.8 million PCs and monitors will be left on for the holiday weekend, wasting an estimated 113 million kWh of electricity and emitting 282.7 million pounds of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, equal to the emissions of 1.7 million mid-sized cars over a four-day period.

113 million kWh would power every residential home in Los Angeles for the entire four-day weekend, and is equivalent to more than 3.3 million gallons of gas used on the road.

Not a festive thought, is it?

Fortunately, close to 500,000 PCs nationwide will be using SURVEYOR software over the holiday weekend, cutting their power consumption by close to 90 percent while eliminating nearly all of their carbon footprint during that time.

If those 25.8 million fully-powered PCs and monitors were using SURVEYOR to manage PCs and monitor power consumption during the Thanksgiving break, they could save a cumulative $5.6 million in energy expenses for four days. That’s why it pays to manage PC power use- for the environment, and for the bottom line.

If your organization isn’t yet using SURVEYOR, please invite your PC to join you in some R&R by turning it off before you leave.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Al Gore and Kleiner Perkins to Finance Green Business

While one might think that former Vice President Al Gore has reached his peak with his recent Nobel Peace Prize and Academy Award winning documentary that started an environmental revolution, Gore disagrees. His newest foray into the environmental arena is taking a job at the prestigious venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. Gore will be working as a partner for the firm, advising which companies and technologies have the most environmental promise, the San Francisco Gate reports.

Gore's no stranger to seeking out sustainable investments; he co-founded Generation Investment Management with Goldman Sachs executive David Blood in 2004. Generation now has $1.5 billion in investments.

Gore insists it's not about the money. While those looking to complain might gripe about the salaries paid to such high profile investors, no need to worry here, Gore is putting his money where is mouth is. Gore will be donating his entire Kleiner Perkins salary to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a CA non-profit that advocates for policies to fight global warming.

As Kleiner Perkins plans to spend one-third of its $600 million investment fund on green technology startups next year, there's no denying the immense potential for this new relationship.

To learn more about this partnership click here.

The eco-friendly myth

Credit Jacquelyn Ottoman for calling marketers onto the carpet today with a great, short piece in the Sustainable Brands Weekly e-newsletter.

Her premise? That claims such as "environmentally friendly" and "ozone friendly" can be misleading to consumers. There's really no such thing as a completely eco-friendly product, she writes. All products use at least some resources and create waste that's not natural to the planet.

She goes on to point out key takeaways from the FTC's Environmental Marketing Guidelines, including:

  • Be specific. Marketers are liable not only for inaccurate statements but also for consumers' misinterpretations of their claims.
  • Don't overstate. Biota’s water bottle was theoretically biodegradable, but not compostable in backyard composters or even many municipal composting facilities. Bad press from this claim helped sink the company.
  • Qualify terms such as “refillable,” “energy-efficient,” and “reusable.” Answer the key questions: How much? For how long? By whom? Where? Compared to what? Avoid saying “recyclable” if products or packaging are theoretically recyclable but not collected by municipal recycling programs.

  • You can read more from and about Jacquie on the Sustainable Brands Web site, and sign yourself up for their great weekly newsletter here.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Real Savings from PC Power Management

    When people think about saving on energy bills, and cutting their carbon footprint, they don't always think about what could happen if they simply cut their PC's energy consumption. But studies show that nearly two-thirds of the power needed by the typical PC/monitor combination is wasted - because the PC is not in use.

    Clear Channel's San Francisco Bay Area office just started using SURVEYOR from Verdiem to monitor and manage its PC energy use and IT carbon footprint. We've been tracking usage and consumption of the office's machines for a few weeks, and the savings this office is about to experience is incredible. Consider the following:

    - PCs (including the CPU and monitor) at Clear Channel's San Francisco office are consuming on average 763 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. For 195 PCs, that's 148,820 kWh. Slightly above average, but relatively normal.
    - To put that in per-PC usage in perspective, if you left a 75-watt light bulb on 24 hours a day all year, it would consume 657 kWh.
    - Using SURVEYOR, Clear Channel PCs will each use just 343 kWh per year. That means they'll be saving 81,859 kWh per year just in their office, reducing carbon emissions each year by a whopping 71,955 pounds!

    That's the equivalent of taking seven cars off the road, saving more than 3,700 gallons of gas, and eliminating the equivalent yearly electricity needs of 4.2 households. It's also means more than $11,000 in electricity savings in just the first 12 months for this Clear Channel office.

    Amazing results for an office of less than 200 employees!

    To learn what kind of cost and carbon savings your business could realize, try this calculator.

    Friday, November 9, 2007

    SMBs Feeling the Pain from Rising Energy Costs

    SMBs continuously face a myriad of financial issues. Costs are rising in all directions, in quality healthcare and compensation for employees, office rental costs and equipment investments. However, none of the above-mentioned costs are hitting SMBs quite as hard as rising energy costs.

    CNN Money reported the results of an IBM global survey of nearly 1400 small and midsized businesses, and found that energy costs have faced the "biggest cost increase" over the past two years. The interviewees expressed concern over these cost increases, for both financial and environmental reasons.

    The bad news is that US businesses were less likely than their foreign counterparts to know how much their IT systems contributed to their overall costs, a mistake as IT equipment is a major power suck and is ripe for savings.

    The good news however is that the majority of SMBs have begun to make at least basic changes in IT, such as installing energy efficient lighting and turning off equipment when not in use. The study indicated that 55% of SMBs are currently taking active steps toward reducing the energy consumption of their information technology, a wise move as recent research from IDC estimates that for very dollar spent on IT, 50 cents is spent on related energy costs. By taking advantage of energy efficient measures and technologies SMBs can mitigate these rising energy costs and focus their efforts on more important issues.

    Click here to learn more about IBM's global SMB survey.

    Thursday, November 8, 2007

    Al Gore: Turn that PC off!

    Rumor has it that Al Gore will make an appearance on the popular NBC sitcom 30 Rock this evening, as part of NBC Universal's "Green is Universal" week.

    Tonight's episode will have a decidedly green theme, with the former Vice President making a surprise guest appearance that includes chastising a 30 Rock staffer for leaving her computer on when it's not in use.

    Catch it tonight at 8:30 local time.

    Sustainability at Walmart

    Good interview today in Sustainable Life Media with Rand Waddoups, the new Senior Director of Corporate Strategy and Sustainability at Walmart.

    One of my favorite quotes from Rand is towards the bottom of the interview, when he's asked what he has learned in his job so far:

    "All of us in this industry are in a unique position to drive positive change throughout the supply chain by working together to make better decisions that are good for our business, our customers and the environment. We have learned that becoming sustainable is a journey, not a sprint. Any company that wants to become more sustainable needs to realize that the journey will have many ups, downs and turns. But changes, whether small or large, will have a positive impact on the business, the employees, the customer and the environment. My only advice would be to start if you haven’t, and increase your efforts if you have. I have found that the results will be pleasantly surprising."

    Read the full interview here.

    Get the Power Alley newsletter in your inbox

    Today marks the first edition of The Power Alley, a new email newsletter about Green IT and the new energy economy from Verdiem. It's full of new insights, tips and advice on how everyone - individually, in our communities and at work - can do more to save energy and reduce our carbon footprint - especially related to the IT devices we rely on every day to keep us productive and successful.

    Get your free subscription here.

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007

    Change requires change

    It goes without saying that reducing our carbon footprints and reversing the impact of global warming will require changes - changes in the way businesses operate, and changes in the way we conduct our lives.

    But according to a new poll by BBC World Service, the majority of us are willing to make those changes and sacrifices.

    Eighty-three percent of people polled in 21 countries said a change in lifestyle and behavior for their countrymen would be necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Sixty-five percent of those polled in the U.S. said that higher energy costs are necessary to curb usage while 79 percent of respondents said American lifestyles must change to reduce emissions.

    "While few citizens welcome higher taxes, the poll suggests that national leaders could succeed in introducing a carbon tax on energy," said Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes, which conducted the poll with GlobeScan and BBC World Service. "The key requirement is that their citizens trust that the resulting tax revenues will be invested in addressing climate change by increasing energy efficiency and developing cleaner fuels."

    Marvell Unveils Energy Efficient Power Supply

    Marvell, manufacturer of semiconductors, has unveiled a new power supply technology designed to cut PC energy use and decrease carbon emissions. A new article reports that the technology increases energy efficiency by intelligently adjusting the supply profile to provide only the amount of power required by the PC at any given time. This is huge news, as today, typically more than half the power supplied from the outlet is wasted as heat. The new design could offer savings of 35-50%.

    What's even more exciting is that Marvell claims their energy efficiency technology could be adapted for use in internal and external power supplies for a wide range of consumer electronics, creating an even greater opportunity for energy reduction.

    By using more efficient power supplies US energy use could be significantly reduced, saving up to 24 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and up to $3 billion annually!

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007

    NFL highlights by candlelight?

    Interesting analysis by Earth2Tech today about NBC Universal's Green Week.

    Sunday night's NFL studio show on NBC looked odd at best with the lights off (and looked even worse in HD). The fact that the studio talent clearly weren't taking the PR stunt serious didn't help things either.

    NBC should be applauded for bringing much-needed additional attention to a growing global problem, but a week's worth of coverage, green-tinted logos and programming placements is just a start. As the last post pointed out, consumers don't just want promises and marketing campaigns. They demand results.

    You better mean it...

    According to the BBMG Conscious Consumer Report, the vast majority of Americans not only expect business leaders and marketers to provide environmentally-conscious products, but they're adamant that those "green-friendly" claims are backed up with legitimate practices.

    “In a world of green clutter, conscious consumers expect companies to do more than make eco-friendly claims. They demand transparency and accountability across every level of business practice. Avoiding the green trap means authentically backing your words with socially responsible actions,” says Raphael Bemporad, founding partner of BBMG.

    What does this mean? Results. It's important to tell customers what you're doing, but also show them the impact. Show the before and after. Demonstrate the real difference you're making for the environment, and earn the trust, respect and business of your current and future customers.

    Read more here.

    What do CSRs really do?

    Enterprises throughout the Fortune 1000 and beyond are hiring and designating CSRs - Corporate Social Responsibility Officers. But what's their job, what influence do they have, and what impact are they really having?

    BusinessGreen tackles that topic today in a great piece contrasting the need for corporate responsibility and policies in organizations with the "rub" that happens when those potential policies get in the way of operations.

    The CSRs role is indeed important, but it's true power may still be a few months, maybe 1-2 years, away. Organizations faced a similar challenge 15-20 years ago, when the first CIO positions started popping up in organizations.

    In the meantime, CSRs and their peers in the executive suite can find a myriad projects that can have a real impact on corporate sustainability and responsibility, with minimal (if any) impact on employee productivity and existing operations. PC power management, for example, can often be executed in a way that not only saves significantly on power costs, but with no impact or visibility for end users and with added benefits for IT departments - such as greater network control, visibility and uptime.

    Monday, November 5, 2007

    Green Business Tips from Dell

    Many thanks to CarbonFree News for giving us an overview of the suggestions Dell provided for small and medium businesses (SMBs) on November 2nd. As energy prices continue to rise and the use of technology consumes increasing amounts of power, Dell suggested a quick list of green initiatives to help businesses save money.

    Among them:

    • Invest in energy efficient products. Many servers on today’s market for example, consume up to 25 per cent less energy than previous generations and many computers use up to 70 per cent less power than previous models.
    • Consider power management software to remotely switch PCs off and on. PCs can be set to come on in the mornings, ready for when employees get into the office.
    • Invest in server consolidation and virtualization technologies that are more energy efficient and make better use of existing hardware.
    • Ensure printers are using the default setting to print double sided; reducing the amount of paper used.
    Click here to read more.

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    Is it or isn't it?

    The Business Week cover story "Little Green Lies" implies that many sustainable practices aren't having the effect on the bottom line that they had intended. The article also pokes significant holes in the practice of third-party carbon offsetting.

    At the same time, a separate three-year study is demonstrating that companies who apply certain climate-friendly policies are seeing increases in their business and financial performance.

    Which story is right?

    Probably depends on the details. If companies focus on saving the environment by changing infrastructure, buying new vehicle fleets, and other strategies that create a significantly higher footprint before they start to generate a reduction, then pay-off is hard to find.

    But the sustainability world is increasingly full of ways to reduce costs and carbon footprint quickly, inexpensively, and with a very fast payback. PC power management, for example, is being adopted by organizations worldwide as a fast, easy and proven way to reduce costs immediately, while dramatically cutting IT carbon emissions.