With sustainability at the top of many companies’ lists of considerations when it comes to business practices, it may be surprising to learn that the internet actually creates a far larger carbon footprint than most would assume.
Shockingly, current internet and IT technology are relatively brown, with data centres consuming as much as two per cent of all global energy and companies often relying on coal power to meet between 50 and 80 per cent of those needs according to Greenpeace’s 2011 report ‘How Dirty Is Your Data?’
In the article ‘Just How Energy Efficient Is the Internet?’ it was revealed that data centres produce carbon emissions on par with a medium-sized country, consuming roughly 130 kWh of energy.
The emergence of green data centres is slowly changing the face of the field, helping to dovetail IT and sustainability. With the advent of the new green technology, and with huge corporations such as Google and Facebook jumping into the green game, these green data centres now make up over half of power management programs across the globe according to the 2012 Energy Efficient IT report.
Of course, questions are liable to pop up concerning the effectiveness of the new technology and its impact on carbon emissions. Though the impacts on both the environment and a company’s bottom line vary greatly, there is no denying the results.
Some 75 per cent of professionals and companies included in the 2012 Energy Efficient IT report decreased their IT energy consumption and associated costs dramatically.
Cost and carbon-cutting measures were as varied as the results, with a number of options available for companies. Virtualized servers and storage were embraced by 65 per cent of companies, while 60 per cent consolidated their servers to streamline energy use. Beyond that, 46 per cent switched to low-power processors, 44 per cent used energy-efficient Energy Star equipment, 31 per cent used energy-efficient networking equipment and 28 per cent load shedding, uninterruptible power supplies.
Cloud computing added another option by reducing the load on companies’ computer mainframes and transferring that load online.
Even less-sweeping changes, such as implementing high-efficiency cooling systems can make a massive difference, as the majority of energy used in data centres goes toward cooling. Consolidating wiring systems and technologies can also cut down on a company’s carbon footprint and associated monetary costs.
While the internet has historically lagged in the green energy world, with more and more big companies taking steps to green their businesses, there is little doubt things are moving in the right direction.