New Years 2010 Resolutions

Friday, January 8, 2010 |

By Jim Lynch, Director, Computer Recycling & Reuse and GreenTech Program
TechSoup Global

The following is a list of 10 energy-efficient computing tips from TechSoup and Climate Savers Computing to help guide your IT habits in 2010:

  1. Use computer and monitor power management. Doing so can save nearly half a ton of CO2 and more than $60 a year in energy costs.
  2. Don’t use a screen saver. Screen savers are not necessary on modern monitors, and studies show they actually consume more energy than allowing the monitor to dim when it’s not in use.
  3. Buying a new computer and/or monitor? Make energy efficiency a priority while shopping for your PC and monitor. Buy EPEAT rated new computers, or if you buy from a retail store, look for the ENERGY STAR label or browse the Climate Savers Computing product catalog.
  4. Buy refurbished computers if you mostly do basic things on computers like word processing, Internet browsing, e-mail, and downloading/uploading digital photos. Refurbished computers cost less than new computers and extend the life of IT equipment. The U.S. EPA Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator finds that it is roughly 25 times more beneficial environmentally to reuse desktop computers than to recycle them at three to five years of age.
  5. Turn down the brightness setting on your monitor. The brightest setting on a monitor consumes twice the power used by the dimmest setting.
  6. Turn off peripherals such as printers, scanners and speakers when not in use. You can use smart power strips, which automatically turn off your accessories when you shut down your computer — or plug all your electronics into one power strip and turn the strip off when you are finished using your computer.
  7. Use a laptop instead of a desktop. Laptops typically consume less than half the power that desktops use.
  8. Use rechargeable batteries in IT devices like digital cameras. They are now low-cost, have long life, save you money and reduce toxics in landfills.
  9. Use a power meter like Verdiem's free Edison application to find out how much energy your computer actually consumes and to calculate your actual savings.
  10. Recycle your old electronics (anything with a plug), batteries, CFLs and ink cartridges. Reduce toxics in landfills. You can learn how to recycle electronics and find recycling centers here.

Moore and Less: Moore’s Law, Less Carbon

Friday, September 25, 2009 |

By John Skinner
Alternate Board Member of Climate Savers Computing
Director of Eco-Technology Marketing at Intel Corporation

Some of my prior blogs have discussed the opportunity for society to solve some of our environmental problems, by more effectively harnessing technology. The continuous advancement in semiconductor technology has enabled computers to become continuously more energy efficient. As computers themselves become more energy efficient, society has opportunities to utilize computers in ways that achieve net-positive environmental outcomes, including the displacement of carbon-intensive activities with lower carbon activities. New academic research is emerging which helps clarify some of these opportunities.

I recently had the opportunity to read 3 new whitepapers Dr. Jonathan Koomey, research scientist with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Yale University. You should be aware that while Intel and Microsoft provided financial support for this particular set of research, Dr. Koomey’s papers represent his own views. This trilogy of papers is noteworthy in that they discuss 3 inter-related trends, which I think have implications for how society manages its stewardship of both technology and the environment.

Trend #1: Continuous advancement of computational energy efficiency, in terms of Computations per Watt of energy used.

Trend #2: The consolidation of computers into powerful, large scale computing utility centers, which can be accessed anywhere, a.k.a. Cloud Computing.

Trend #3: The effective harnessing of computer technologies to achieve improved net environmental outcomes, including Carbon Reduction and De-materialization.

“Assessing Trends in the Electrical Efficiency of Computation Over Time” outlines the forces, including Moore’s Law, that have driven decades of historical, and expected future improvements, in the energy efficiency of computers.

“Assessing Trends Over Time in Performance, Cost, and Energy Use of Servers” outlines the technological and economic forces that are driving the consolidation of computing resources into large scale, highly dense mega-data centers, a.k.a. cloud computing.

“The Energy and Climate Change Impact of Different Music Delivery Methods” studies how society is harnessing new computing technologies, including mega-data centers, for economic and convenience reasons, while creating interesting environmental net outcomes.

Dr, Koomey’s research is both illuminating and provocative. Some questions for continued discussion and ongoing research include: What are the environmental consequences of substituting one type of technology with another? Is technological progress a threat to, or ally of, the environment? How does the answer depend on the technology, and how it is utilized? What role can organizations like the Climate Savers Computing Initiative play, in helping society find the answers?

Among other places, Dr. Koomey’s latest research can be found here. I encourage you to read all three (or at least one) of the papers, then come back and join the conversation on these topics, by posting a comment below.

Saving Energy: Tips for Your Workplace

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 |
By Erin Lang
Product Management, Sun Microsystems

We all know it's important to save energy these days. With ever-rising demand, the suffering environment and tight budgets, every watt counts. What many people don't realize, however, is that each one of us can make simple changes in our workplace to save energy. And it's easy! Here are some tips.

For your computer:
1) Use your computer's power saving settings. Adjust your settings so that your screen turns off after a few minutes of idle, and so that your computer goes to sleep shortly thereafter. Here are the Climate Savers Computing power management recommendations.

2) Close idle applications. If you're not using it, close it. Your computer's performance will increase, and power drawn will decrease.

3) Turn off your computer at the end of the day – don't just put it to sleep. Sleep is a low-power state, not a no-power state.

For your office:
1) Turn off anything that's plugged in when you aren't using it. This includes computer monitors, lights, radios, CD players, printers and anything else with an on/off switch.

2) Unplug power supplies that aren't currently charging a battery or powering a device, or plug them all into a power strip and turn the strip off when they aren't being used. Even while a power supply is idle and not providing power, it still draws energy.

3) Use natural lighting when possible. If your office has a window with enough light coming in, turn off the lights during the day.

4) Turn heat and air conditioning down/off overnight and over the weekend when you're not there.

These easy changes can help make a large difference. Try a few and see for yourself!

Summer Consumer Guide: Buying a new Computer

Thursday, July 23, 2009 |

By Ellen Jackowski
HP Environmental Sustainability

We all know about the importance of using the power management features on our computers to save energy, right? Simple actions like turning off your computer when you’re done working, ditching your screen saver and turning down the brightness on your monitor can help cut back on CO2 emissions and save you money on your electricity bill. In fact, enabling computer power management features like “sleep” mode can save nearly half a ton of CO2 and more than $60 per year in energy costs.

HP’s new Power to Change campaign encourages people to do just that – shut down their computers at the end of each work day – to help reduce CO2 emissions. HP estimates that if 100,000 people did this each day, the combined energy savings could total more than 2,680 kilowatt-hours and carbon emissions reductions could total more than 3,500 pounds per day. This is the equivalent of eliminating more than 105 cars from the road.
But using the computer you already have in a more energy-efficient way is just one part of the process. What about choosing the machine in the first place? How can you ensure that the product you purchase is a good choice for you, your wallet and the environment?

There are number of specific things to consider:
  1. Is the product ENERGY STAR qualified?
    Make sure the answer is yes. ENERGY STAR-compliant computers use 15-25% less energy on average than non-compliant computers. The new ENERGY STAR 5.0 qualification just went into effect on July 1. To meet this new standard, computers need to have an 85% minimum efficiency at 50% of rated output and 82% minimum efficiency at 20% and 100% of rated output. Products that fit this strict new standard not only consume less energy themselves, they also generate less heat, which cuts back on power needed to keep the machine cool. In fact, an ENERGY STAR-rated PC and monitor with power management tools enabled can save up to $75 in energy costs in one year.

  2. Is the product EPEAT registered? If so, at what level?
    EPEAT is a system to help purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes. Computers are rated Gold, Silver or Bronze depending on the number of 51 environmental criteria they meet pertaining to energy conservation, end-of-life management, product longevity, packaging, corporate performance and the reduction and elimination of sensitive materials. An EPEAT Bronze-rated product meets the 23 baseline criteria, while an EPEAT Gold-rated product meets the 23 baseline criteria plus 75% of the remaining 28 optional criteria. Silver-rated products meet the required criteria plus 50% of the optional ones.

  3. Check your Display
    If you are buying a notebook, get one with a light-emitting diode (LED) display. LED displays are lighter than cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) technology and they are recyclable, mercury-free and provide significant energy savings.

    If you are buying a new desktop, consider replacing your old CRT monitor with an energy-efficient LCD flat panel monitor. LCD monitors provide up to 70% power savings and up to twice the lifespan of conventional CRT monitors. LCD monitors also run cooler, which helps save on air conditioning costs.

  4. What about Recycling?
    Does your product contain recyclable materials? What about the packaging? There are lots of computers on the market that make use of recycled materials in both the machine itself and the packaging without sacrificing quality or price. All HP Business Notebook PCs, for example, are more than 90% recyclable or recoverable (by weight), and many HP computers use 100% recyclable packaging.

In the midst of all these environmental considerations for your new computer, don’t forget to dispose of your old machine responsibly. There are a number of options you can take advantage of, including donation, trade-in, return-for-cash and recycling, to ensure that your old computer doesn’t end up in a landfill.

Find out about HP’s product end of life options.

Fuel Cell Powered Laptop is Here, Almost

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 |
By Jaymi Heimbuch

We’ve been waiting around for awhile for a laptop that uses methanol fuel cells. Finally, PolyFuel has finished up a working prototype for a fuel cell-powered laptop, the Lenovo T40 ThinkPad. The laptop runs on direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), and each methanol cartridge provides power for about 10 hours of use. There are some great features to this, and some not so great features.


PCs on sleep mode would save power and the climate, PDX Green says

Friday, April 25, 2008 |

By Shelby Wood
The Oregonian

The quiet box on your desk or in the living room, that thing that helps you work and buy airline tickets and watch funny clips on YouTube -- it's burning through fossil fuels, too.

The tools to slow the power flow are right inside it, accessible with a few mouse clicks. Pay nothing; give nothing up. Yet most of us never make the fix.

To change that, Intel and Google founded the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, a nonprofit based in a Pearl District office. In their sights: Your computer, your kid's computer, your sister's . . . all 1 billion PCs worldwide. The technology giants want computers to go to sleep, and consume less energy, when we're not using them.


The PC's Dirty Little Secret: It Wastes Power Shamelessly

Friday, April 18, 2008 |
By David LaGesse
U.S. News & World Report

Though it is the smartest device in the house, the desktop computer has been dumb when it comes to conserving energy. It's as if every household has a big, gas-guzzling vehicle (or two) in its driveway, all with engines racing. Most people have more computer than they need, says Bruce Nordman, a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "It's like we're all driving sport utility computers."

And those hulking, desktop PCs gulp power because they've traditionally been shipped with their throttle stuck wide open. Of course, the energy wasted is more that of a big light bulb than an SUV. But if desktop PCs glowed like their equivalent 150-watt bulb, we'd think to dim them or even switch them off. They don't glow, and few PC owners bother to automatically power them down.