Green computing has been the hype today in the information technology world. The increasing consciousness of the people on climate change has also brought about numerous concepts that are aimed at the continuous utilization of new technology but used in an environmental friendly way. It started out as an act by environmentalist but is now becoming a hot topic and a major frustration and aspiration for most businesses.
Definitions of Green Computing
Although, scientists and researchers agree that that the term green computing has something to do with the usage of information technology in an environmentally friendly way. However, some scientists argue that there is more to green computing than just the usage environment friendly usage. San Muregesan in his article Harnessing Green IT: Principles and Practices provided a broader definition of green computing by saying that Green Computing is actually involves the “study and practice of designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computers, servers, and associated subsystems – such as monitors, printers, storage devices, and networking and communications systems efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact to the environment.” (2011)
Green Computing does not refer only to the activities related above but also involves the Green IT also strives to include economic viability of the outputs and improving the performance of all these products while ensuring that now laws towards maintaining the environmental equilibrium to include the social and ethical responsibilities of the manufacturers, users and distributors are affected. (Muregesan, 2011)
Further, as green computing looks into the efficient utilization of computing resources, the main its main objective is to come up with some great ideas that can be practiced and adopted which are people friendly, planet friendly and profitable. Thus, green computing is not a simple concept as it must always take into account the advantages it has for the main users which are the people, its effect to the plant where the people live and the economic viability it has.
Green computing does not only refer to computers, but all devices that involve the use of computing devices such as the mobile phones. In this era where technology is as fast paced as ever that is growing proportionally with the alarming increasing rate of climate change effects, consumers are now not only after the technology they are using but they are now leaning to consider the environmental effects each of their devices have.
Origins of Green Computing
The launch of Energy Star program of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 paved way to the green computing concept and movement. The major aim of the program, which is still well in place to date, is to “increase energy efficiency in order to reduce green house gas emissions and deliver cost savings.” (Lindstrom, 2012) The Energy Star label has been its trademark through the years and the presence of such label indicates that a product has passed the tests and gives the impression that that product is cost-efficient and an energy saver. Not only computing devices like monitors are being catered to by the product. In fact, there are about 60 categories included in the energy start certification and to include among others, household appliances and office equipments.
The sleep mode and standby mode functions of computer and monitors are also the one of the first results of the road towards the promotion of green computing.
Another milestone in the history of green computing is the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 where the reduction of carbon emissions was mandated by the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change. As a result, energy audits were made especially to computer manufacturing companies to test carbon dioxide emissions of their products and make the necessary precautions and adjustments. (Nauyab, 2011)
In 2003, the European Union adopted the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) which restricts the use of hazardous substances in the manufacturing of electronic na delectrical equipments like lead, cadmium and chromium. The implementation of such is governed by the Waste and Electrical and Electronic Directive (WEEE). Included in the WEEE directive is to recycle and recover electrical materials as much as possible to decrease the amount of toxic wastes produced and disposed.
In 2005, the Green Electronics Council was created which aimed at finding sustainable ways of creating and disposal of electrical materials. Likewise, the council is also tasks to come up with electronic devices standards which are sustainable and environmental friendly in nature.
Current issues and Advantages of Green Computing
While the main objective of green computing is beneficial to not only the people who are users of these technologies, but also to the degrading environment where we all live in, it is not totally free of issues.
The first drawback of resorting to green computing which is agreed upon by most scientists is its cost. A company may need to resort to increase expenses of staff and other materials to be able to come up with energy saving appliances. Other issues includes possible increase in power consumption although the actual IT environments cannot be audited. One possible reason is that since the trend today is to decentralized the devices, for example, more and more air conditioning equipments may be needed because the devices are distributed among rooms and floors in building. This is actually consuming more energy because although the devices are energy efficient, it is overcome by the by the number or equipment which when solved may just be equal or above the normal energy workload.
In addition to the cost and power issues, the fast technological change may affect the cost-effectiveness of these equipment since, even if they have not served the required lifetime of these equipments, they may already need to be replaced.
Although, the above-named issues hover environmentalist and policy makers, there are a number of benefits we can get from embracing green computing. (Kotwani, 2010) First, green computers are created in such a way that hazardous elements are greatly reduced especially lethal substances like lead, cadmium, and chlorinated plastics. Actually, ideally, the components of these electronic devices must be completely eliminated. Green Computing compliant devices are made in such a way that they are energy efficient. Aside from being environmental friendly, this feature of green computing devices is beneficial to the buyers because its use will save a substantial amount on their energy consumption. In addition to these, green computing devices utilizes recyclable materials thereby reducing the amount of toxic and non-toxic wastes that needs to be disposed of. With the aid of policies provided by policy making bodies, the manufacturers are required to indicate in their products the percentages of recyclable materials they are used and information on their proper recycling or disposal. They also have the characteristic of end of life recovery, meaning, if the materials used are about to be disposed, there are specific or given disposal locations or instructions on how to dispose or disassemble these. Likewise, these also utilize materials that are not only renewable but are also bio-based. Since these products uses bio-based materials, their product life expectancy are longer compared to other devices that did not used these products.
These are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using green computing. Although, the use of green IT compliant materials may be expensive at first, the long term-benefits are definitely more and priceless.
Future trends of green computing
Green Computing is continuously developing sector. Today, some of the future trends that researchers and scientist foresee in the future of Green Computing includes the following:
Several organizations are coming out which aims to certify the compliance to green technology of manufacturing companies. If the government will provide policies requiring all these manufacturing companies to undergo certifications before coming out or selling their products then, a 100% Green Computing compliant society can be achieved.
- Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is another emerging technology that could help promote green computing. This is due to the fact that less and less hardware devices will be needed to purchase since data and hardware are already provided for by cloud computing vendors. This also means more efficient monitoring of devices since there will be less companies to monitor.
- Product Longevity
It is still a challenge to manufacturers how to increase the product longevity of equipments to be able to fully maximize its utilization. This can be partnered with government policies to enforce these manufacturers to produce equipments that can withstand at least 3 years.
- Power Management Tools
With the continuously depleting energy resources of the world, it is a a must that manufacturers start to make products with the same or more efficiency but one that requires decreased power resources.
Green computing role in the IT industry
Green computing has a big role in the IT industry. Since we are now living in a digital age, it follows that IT equipments are the major and the most used tools of both individuals and businesses. If all the users of these technologies utilizes the use of green computing, then this wil have a big impact on the efforts of nations to increase the productivity of the people, preserve the planet earth and come up with more cost-efficient tools to aid people in their daily activities.
Green computing has become a catalyst in the improvement of services provided by the IT industry. We can clearly see today that IT innovations take into consideration green computing principles before actually deploying the technology or equipment innovated.
Jindal, Gaurav (2012). Green Computing “Future of Computers”. International Journal of Emerging Research in Management and Technology. Web. N.D. 16 July 2013. <http://www.ermt.net/docs/papers/Volume_1/Issue_2_Decemebr2012/V1N1-0105.pdf>
Kotwani, Priyanka (2010). Green Computing. Web.n.d. 16 July 2013. <http://123seminarsonly.com/Seminar-Reports/021/51161349-Green-Computing.pdf>
Lindstrom, Matthew J. (2012). Encyclopedia of the U.S. Government and the Environment. Web. N.d. 16 July 2013. <http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=dPknEkbF4BsC&pg=PA307&dq=what+is+the+energy+star+program&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ja_kUe7HEMa4iQflu4CYDg&ved=0CFoQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=what%20is%20the%20energy%20star%20program&f=false>
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