Monday, March 31, 2008

CBS News TechTalk: Put Your Computer to Sleep

Check out Larry Magid's latest Tech Talk podcast featuring ways to make your PCs (and eventually many more networked devices) more energy efficient.

Larry points out that putting (and keeping) computers in sleep or stand-by mode when inactive isn't always as easy as it should be, and for businesses, there's an equal challenge of ensuring those computers can be "woken up" when they need to be in use again.

Check out Larry's extensive interview with Verdiem CEO Kevin Klustner here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

When Should I Turn Off My Computer?

Occasionally, people ask how long they have to be away from their machines to make turning it off worthwhile. From the perspective of energy savings, if you are going to be away from your computer from more than 8-15 minutes, you should turn it off. However, the energy concerns are only part of the equation.

To answer this question, we have to find the point at which the extra power consumption required to shut down and restart a machine is offset by the power saved. If the machine is off for any period of time longer than that, we've saved energy.

Modern computers use much more energy when they are doing work than when they are idle. So, to find the breakeven point, I started my typical set of applications: Firefox with a couple of tabs, Microsoft Word, a media player, and Visual Studio. Then, I measured the power consumption using a wattmeter while I shutdown the machine, waited for a little while, then turned the computer back on and restarted all the applications.

Here's a graph of the energy usage on "both sides" of a shutdown and restart:

What you see in the graph is pretty typical, starting at the left of the graph, you see some idle time, followed by some activity caused by the shutdown processing, then some off time. Then you see the startup processing and finally some idle time.

Note that, even though the machine did not return to the idle power consumption for 7 minutes, the computer was usable long before that.I ran this test on a computer that's an energy hog. The hog takes about 30 seconds to shutdown and has peak wattage of 183 watts. It also takes 7 minutes (60*7 = 420 seconds) from startup to idle with peak wattage of 230 watts. The idle wattage is 115 watts. Let's just estimate by taking the shutdown cost as (0.125 hours)*(230 - 115) watts = 14.375 watt hours. The off wattage is 0.7. Therefore, the breakeven point comes when the amount of saved energy is equal to the shutdown energy. In numbers, when 14.375 = 114.3 * h, where h is the time the machine is shutdown in hours. For the energy hog, this works out to be about 7.5 minutes.

Therefore, for this machine, anytime you are going to be away from the machine for more than 7.5 minutes, you can save energy by shutting the machine down.

Some of the most efficient machines available use much less energy but it's safe to assume that, if you're going to be away from your computer for more than 15 minutes, you're probably better off, from an energy perspective, in shutting it down.

So, if you are managing large groups of machines you might consider using software that saves energy and mitigates the productivity losses by actively managing machine power states.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

3 Ways To Cut IT Energy Use

According to, there are three incredibly simple ways to cut your organization's technology costs:

1) Turn computers off at night - By turning computers off when they are not in use, companies can reap big savings and lower their carbon footprint.

2) Buy energy efficient equipment - While many IT shops do recycle old equipment, it's just as important to take energy efficiency into account when buying new equipment. According to a CIO survey, currently only 32% of organizations do this.

3) Stop wasting paper - A survey by the Butler Group found that environmentally friendly printing practices can significantly reduce the amount of paper each employee wastes, sometimes by up to 400%! Educating end users about paper waste is one of the first steps a company can take.

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Staples Copy and Print Centers Using Recycled Paper

All 1400 Staples Copy and Print Centers will now be using recycled paper as the standard offering for print jobs, Environmental Leader reports. This is a first for a national copy and print organization and makes Staples the office supplier that offers the most Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper overall.

“These FSC-certified recycled content paper products are another way that Staples makes it easy for customers to make a difference for the environment-what we call EcoEasy,” said Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs at Staples.

Staples has set a goal of moving the majority of paper products it offers to FSC-certified paper by the end of 2010, based upon availability of supply and market conditions.

Click here to read more.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

EPA Reports Drop in US Emissions in 2006

The Environmental Protection Agency is working on an annual report examining US Greenhouse Gas Emissions from 1990-2006, Environmental Leader reports. EPA found that overall emissions during 2006 decreased by 1.5% from the previous year.

With total US emissions in 2006 at 7,202 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, it is easy to see how a decrease of 1.5% is substantial. Overall, emissions have grown by 14.1 percent from 1990 to 2006 while the U.S. economy has grown by 59 percent over the same period. The 2006 emissions decrease is only the third decline in annual emissions since 1990.

Click here to learn more.

Green Investors Put Pressure On Corporations

The number of shareholder resolutions requesting that companies disclose what they are doing about climate change has doubled in the last two years, US News reports.

Already 14 of the 54 resolutions have been withdrawn after companies chose to disclose their global warming plans. Such commendable companies include Continental, Lowes, Harley Davidson and Southern Company. Among those still holding out are large oil companies like Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips.

According to Ceres, a coalition of investors and and environmental groups, "Many U.S. companies are confronting the risks and opportunities from climate change, but others are not responding adequately, and they may be compromising their long-term competitiveness as a result."

Click here for the full article.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Forrester Predicts Green IT Consulting Market To Boom

In a report released by Forrester this week titled, "The Dawn of Green IT Services," a prediction is made that the market for green IT services will reach $4.8 billion in 2013, InfoWorld reports.

Currently, the green IT consulting industry is quite small, around $500 million. But with the recent momentum of the green movement, Forrester expects spending on green IT services to increase by 60% annually for the next five years.

Click here to read more.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Microsoft Speaks Up On Green Initiatives

Robert Bernard, Microsoft's Chief Environmental Strategist, discussed Microsoft's green strategy last week, CNET reports. While other IT companies have launched large public "green IT" initiatives, Microsoft has remained fairly quiet.

Bernard addressed the issue during a session at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco, and indicated that reducing the energy consumption of software is one of his primary objectives. However, as only 3-5% of energy consumption comes from software, Microsoft is also looking to work with its hardware partners to address the other 95%.

Speaking to investors and entrepreneurs, Bernard said that a software infrastructure to integrate their inventions into existing energy networks needs to be created.

Click here to read more.