Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Green Companies Moving Forward

The article I found about green IT was written by Ellen Fanning for the website It is entitled “Top Green-IT Organizations find fertile ground for innovation”. The article is about the top twelve corporate businesses that are doing their part to save the environment by reducing power demands and using technology to create energy efficiencies. The article explains how the goal of green-IT is to save the planet, but another benefit of it is saving money, something all businesses strive for.
The top twelve green-IT users are:
1. Mohawk Fine Papers
2. State Street
3. Allstate Insurance
4. Citigroup
5. PricewaterhouseCoopers
6. State of Indiana
8. Seventh Generation
9. Office Depot
10. Burt’s Bees
11. Marriott International
12. Austin Energy
The reasons for these rankings are very different. For example, number 5, PricewaterhouseCoopers, a new data center is using a high-voltage system that maximizes energy efficiency and reduces copper consumption. This allows for 40 to 50 less air conditioning units than a regular designed space. Also, employees at Pricewater will work four days instead of five, lowing the number of commutes by 40 each week and cutting carbon footprints.
At Burt’s Bees (number ten) employees’ incentive pay is partially linked to metric that measures reductions in energy consumption, water use, and waste reduction.
I think this article is amazing. Who knew that all these different organizations were trying to be greener? Not only are they saving the environment though, they’re saving money as well! More companies should really jump on the bandwagon and go green! Being green isn’t a fad anymore; it’s an action that’s going to be sticking around, so the sooner businesses start to conform, the more money they’ll be saving and probably making. Many consumers are now buying goods based on how environmentally friendly they are. Businesses that are changing for the good of mother earth will be around a lot longer to watch themselves evolve with her.

You mentioned GREEN was important...but HOW important??

The article I found discusses what a company’s five quickest returns are when it comes to going green. According to this article many companies talk a lot but when it comes to actually carrying through with going “green” many are holding off. In a May 2007 survey 87% of companies said that they believe environmental concerns are important when considering IT operations however only ¼ of these companies have actually implemented the criteria into the written purchasing process. So what exactly are these five quickest returns?

Well according to this article consolidation and virtualizing operations are the most well recognized strategies of the past few years. Sun Microsystems is among those companies that had consolidated and by doing so they relocated and consolidated a 200,000 square foot data center into 72,000 square feet and eliminated the use of 5,000 electronic devices reducing the energy requirements by almost 1.5 megawatts. This is helping Sun Microsystems save nearly $1.5 million per year.

The next ROI discussed in this article is the idea of measuring energy use in order to optimize the output. In order to collect the data needed to measure the optimal amount of energy needed for companies to run a group of over 150 businesses called the “Green Grid” have been working together to measure the PUE(power usage effectiveness) of specific equipment along with creating a DCiE(data center infrastructure efficiency) metric in order to measure data center productivity. These measurements will be used by the EPA(environmental protection agency) to develop its newest benchmark which will help give companies the best ROI(return on investment). Using supplemental cooling units has also been a large help when it comes to lowering energy use and cutting costs. By having machines face each other and creating a contained environment in which the heat of the machines is cased companies have been able to apply the cooling unit directly to the area where the heat is coming from and therefore allowing the number of units used to be cut significantly as well as become up to 30% more efficient.

This article continues to talk about how looking for rebates and incentives from suppliers is a way to cut down on costs, especially when it comes to going green and looking for “greener” supplies. If you keep an eye out you are more likely to be able to find cheaper prices for the equipment you and your company need to be more efficient. Finally the fifth quickest return on your green investment mentioned in this article is data deduplication. This is the use of algorithms to drastically reduce the amount of storage space your company is using and that which your company needs. The article does note that it depends on the kind of information you are looking to compress but says that this process of deduplication can allow a compression rate of between 3:1 and 10:1.

So with all of these ways to go green with your company my number one question is why are only ¼ of the said companies mentioned at the beginning of the article actually following through? Who knows…after reading this article these all seem like quite reasonable ways to gather a fantastic ROI…don’t you?

Green Ink

The green technology that I found on deals with Xerox ink cartridges. The article was published on May 14, 2009 by Ted Samson. Here’s the link:

Most organizations such as governments, businesses, educational institutions, and households employ printers and similar machines for multiply reasons, ranging from the materialization of information to the embossment of memories. Without the ink printing is not possible. Although the methods of printing have changed since Gutenberg’s printing press, ink is the essential component. For modern printers, what happens when the ink runs out? It’s time to replace the ink cartridge. Before the new cartridge can be bought and installed in the printer, it goes through an arduous packaging process. By packaging I do not mean a nice shiny, colorful box. Simply, the ink is entombed in a plastic shell and includes devices to feed the ink through the printer onto the piece of paper. There is no doubt that these processes of manufacturing, distribution, and implementation of ink cartridges for the purpose of printing, use great amounts of materials and energy. This does not include the grave impact on the environment upon disposal of empty ink cartridges. Although it is viable to recycle the depleted cartridges, most are thrown away in the garbage, destined to reside in a landfill for 1000+ years.

To combat the cartridge problem, Xerox has introduced the ColorQube 9200 series of A3-size MFPs (Multi-Function Printers) which use solid ink sticks. “The ink comes in the form of small sticks, resembling fat pieces of chalk. You pop the sticks into the printer, and they're melted into the printhead, which jets the ink onto the print drum. Paper is passed between a roller and the print drum under pressure, and the image is transferred to the paper.” There is no cartridge to hold the ink. This saves a lot of resources from being used. “Printing 1 million pages on a laser printer would require the manufacturing of 965 pounds of various materials, including cartridges, fusers, and drums. Printing 1 million pages with ink sticks would require 272 pounds of materials.” That not only reduces the harm cause to the environment by the cartridges production, it reduces costs. The savings are then passed on to the buyer. For laser printers, it costs 8 cents to print a page with any color on it, even if the only color is from the logo. For the solid ink printer, it costs only 3 cents per page with an intermediate amount of color. One may say it’s only 5 cents, but it adds up. If one printed 1 million pages, it totals to a savings of $50,000. In this economy, it’s definitely worth the investment. Also, when the ink is used up, there is no cartridge to throw out. That means no added harm to the environment, and no guilt for not recycling.

Personally, I do not see any flaws to this product. It’s cheaper to print items. It’s more efficient, and it’s a environmentally healthy alternative to laser printer ink cartridges. However, there’s some hesitation. The article did not address the speed or quality. Xerox does offer a sample to those interested in the product.

Bull Ushers in the Newest Supercomputer

The article I read on is entitled, “Bull goes green with new supercomputer” by Mikael Ricknas. The article describes a computer that has been designed to be energy efficient. This new computer known as Bullx, is produced by Bull, a company that opens consumers to new, “technologies, solutions and services that fully support enterprise strategies, reduce operating costs and risks.”

In recent years, consumers have started to pay close attention to environmentally friendly practices. Because of this, companies have started to alter there marketing strategies to appeal to the eco-friendly consumer. Whether it be Starbucks who now promotes their new plastic cups being made with 15% less plastic and 45% less carbon emissions or Home Depot who now houses an “Eco-Options” product line, companies are realizing the importance of environmental sustainability. Although it does not produce products for the every day consumer, Bull has also jumped on board this eco-trend.

Ushering in this new piece of technology, Didier Lamouche, Chairman and CEO of Bull commented, "The period of acute crisis the world is going through is actually giving us an opportunity to take a closer look at the practices we have all been using, and to rebuild a world that should be based on two foundation stones: innovation and environmental awareness” (

So what is it? Bullx is a supercomputer that is based on blade servers. Blade servers are essentially computers that have been stripped down to both save space and minimize power consumption. Further, because of their size, blade servers are easier to install and maintain. Along with these blades are accelerator blades which use “graphics processors to speed up floating point calculations.” Floating point calculations are considered to be calculations over very large numbers. A final interesting point about this supercomputer is its ultra-capacitor module, a module that improves the efficiency of the electrical power supply by 10-15% compared to other power supplies. In addition, the Bullx utilizes a cooling door that consumes 75% less power than a standard operating system of this magnitude. Because this supercomputer is processing very large amounts of information, it needs to have this mechanism in order for it not to short circuit. But wait…Bullx “comes with integrated protection against short bursts of electrical power.” This means that, “customers won’t have to use uninterruptible power supplies which makes the data centre less energy efficient.” An uninterruptible power supply is an emergency battery backup system. It is obvious that an immense amount of energy would be needed if a supercomputer like this failed.

These Bullx computers will be used primarily in the government sector, according to the article. The article concludes by naming several applications including “seismic processing, weather forecasting and crash analysis,” all fields that analyze mass amounts of data. Although this may be efficient and green, the estimated cost for one of these machines is between “tens of thousands of euros to tens of millions of euros.” Although expensive, I think it might still save money and electricity after its full use.


"Sony Ericsson Goes Green With Latest Phones"

In a very environment-conscious society, it looks good for big companies to "go green", which is essentially when a corporation supports the environment in some way. In a recent article in Information Week, readers were made aware that the cell phone company Sony Ericsson is among the many companies that are "going green". The company launched a series of cellular phones that are environmentally friendly and created plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that they produce.

The corporation will soon be launching the C901 and Nait handsets as part of their GreenHeart line, which is the first tangible step by the corporation towards becoming greener. These particular handsets use less chemicals than other phones, which make them safer for the environment. Sony Ericsson is also taking measures in terms of shipping to become greener by shipping these handsets with smaller packaging and electronic manuals. Furthermore, these phones also have a special charger that only draws power once device is connected.

Dick Komiyama, president of Sony Ericsson, stated, "Since the start of the joint venture in 2001, Sony Ericsson has strived to exceed industry standards in the removal of harmful substances and energy efficient chargers", which is exactly what these phones will accomplish. Sony Ericcson also plans to make the GreenHeart line extend to all of the company's phones eventually, and also wants to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 20% by 2015.

I feel like this is an excellent idea. Everyone has a cellphone, and so why not take measures to make cellular phones environment friendly? My only concern with these phones was that the phones would lose some features that are currently attractive in hand-held devices. However, the C901 has a auto-focus, 5-megapixel camera with a Xenon flash. And despite the Nait only having a 2-megapixel camera, it is a 3G phone with Bluetooth. These phones sound great to me!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Green Grid's prove cost savings for IT Firms

The Article I read on InfoWorld.Com is entitled, Green Grid's metric sow seeds for IT sustainablity by Galen Gruman, points out some interesting suggestions for IT firms to save money by going "green".

Many IT executives are feeling the pain paying high energy bills (electricity) especially in their data centers. A board was created "The Green Grid" in February of 2007. This board developed a metric(s) that helped companies battle their energy crisis and high costs. The Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and Data Center Efficiency (DCE) metrics were the metrics that they used. According to the author, these were sustainable IT practices.

The metrics allowed the datacenters and the vendors a way "to measure energy usuage in a consistent way, across various datacenters configurations and product mixes, providing both the insight on where energy is consumed and the ability to gauge whether energy-reduction efforts are actually working." (Gruman)

IT professionals like to use'best practices' and the latest technologies to make their datacenters state of the art and world-class centers to stay ahead of the competition. Gruman states that in trying to keep up, making IT greener was not an initial goal of the industry professionals. The Green Grid intentionally avoids product recommendations but spends a lot of time on a conscensus among its members. When the government stepped in; it recommended that ALL corporations strive for greener environments. Companies then set limits and guidelines on best practices to save the environment.

Ted Samson writes in his article, "25 facts you should know about green IT", - The EPA estimated in 2006 that the typical enterprise datacenter had a PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) rating of 2.0 or higher. (Ratings below 2.0 are better for the environment.) Through equipment efficiency improvements alone, combined with current practices, the number should reach 1.9 by 2011. The EPA predicts that "state-of-the-art datacenters," using exotic energy-efficient power and cooling technologies such as liquid cooling and combined heat-and-power energy generation solutions, could reach a PUE of 1.2.

This is an interesting idea given that the average IT professional is not concerned with the energy they are using, they are more concerned with how their equipment can be faster, more efficient and out do the competition. Gruman also comments on the term "greenwashing". This was coined by NY Environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986. Westerveld indicated that the hotel industry was doing little or nothing to help the environment by getting guest to reuse towels - it was merely a ploy for the hotel to be able to save some money on their costs.

When I think about it more - companies should do everything possible to "become greener" - after all it will be a cost savings to them and eventually a lower price for the client or average consumer. Because technology is so helpful to all in multiple ways - saving the environment, cost savings and being a 'greener consumer' could be a great benefit to all of us.