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Energy and Cost Savings through Green ICT

June 16, 2010

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Tim Miles is Associate Director on the IT Team in Manufacturing and Services’ Office of Technology and Electronic Commerce and covers the U.S. software and IT services industries.  He and his colleagues work with other ITA units and U.S. Government agencies on domestic and trade policy issues that affect the U.S. IT sector and provide counseling to U.S. IT exporters, especially small and medium-sized companies. 

Information and communications technology (ICT) has become a significant source of energy consumption.  ICT equipment now makes up about 5.3 percent of global electricity use and more than 9 percent of total U.S. electricity demand.  The International Energy Agency (a unit of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris) predicts that the energy consumed by ICT worldwide will double by 2022 and increase three-fold by 2030 to 1,700 tera (trillion) watt hours.  This will equal the current combined residential electricity use of the United States and Japan and will require the addition of nearly 280 giga (billion) watts of new generating capacity over the next twenty years, presenting a great challenge to electric utilities throughout the world.   

On the other hand, ICT also enables greater energy efficiency.  It has played and will continue to play a critical role in reducing energy waste and increasing energy efficiency throughout the economy.  U.S. businesses have realized that the rising cost of energy is a pressing issue and have begun to invest in Green ICT. 

 The goal of Green ICT is to increase environmental sustainability throughout the entire ICT life-cycle along the following four complimentary paths: 

Green use — reducing the energy consumption of computers and other information systems as well as using them in an environmentally sound manner  

Green disposal — refurbishing and reusing old computers and properly recycling unwanted computers and other electronic equipment 

Green design — designing energy-efficient and environmentally sound components, computers, servers, cooling equipment, and data centers 

Green manufacturing — manufacturing electronic components, computers, and other associated subsystems with minimal impact on the environment 

The adoption of Green ICT principles and practices in industry can help U.S. manufacturers become more cost competitive and contribute to reducing our nation’s energy dependence.  Energy-efficiency studies show that a combination of improved operations, best practices, and state-of-the-art technologies can bring significant energy and electricity cost savings.  For example, employing simple power management techniques, by adjusting settings to “standby or sleep” mode when personal computers or printers are inactive during business hours, can achieve at least a 20 percent reduction in electricity consumption and result in average savings of $50 per year for each PC.  This means that power management of the 108 million desktop PCs in U.S. organizations could net around $5.4 billion. 

More Information 

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Technology and Electronic Commerce (OTEC) participated in a session on Green IT at the Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s National Conference in Orlando on May 5th.  OTEC’s Green IT presentation focuses on the impact that IT has on energy consumption and the role of Green IT in energy-efficiency and carbon abatement. It also provides a review of best practices and examples of the energy and cost savings that can be achieved through Green IT.  Click here for the presentation. 

21 comments

  1. It seems this would be one of the easiest transitions to make. Lessening unneeded consumption and contributing to a more cost effective business model is a win/win.


  2. love our earth home…reducing the energy consumption


    • We have noticed that number of home buyers who are looking for Green Homes has been increasing since 2010.


  3. I completely agree ICT needs to be made “greener”. More and more companies who provide web farms are utilizing solar in part for their power needs.

    My concern is the difficulty in finding places to recycle old computers, printers etc. This is something I hope is addressed soon.


  4. In the end, we will all have to find a way to be completely green, because the fossil fuels we currently have will only last us 1 century at most. Since the world thrives on technology and indeed needs it in this day and age to survive, it is imperative that ICT in particular gets the ball rolling properly , to find alternative sources of power.


  5. I love the philosophy but where can we hand in our old computers, I have a matrix of 4 old computers that I would like to hand on and get one to replace them and save some energy. But my experience is that nobody wants to take them for safe disposal.


  6. We may be using a lot of resources now but yeah, I agree with you guys. In the end we might have to find a new and greener way of producing and utilizing energy. Especially when our resources are running out, the place we live in is getting crowded and everything else is getting dirtier.


  7. Yeah, adoption of Green ICT principles and practices would not only help US manufacturers but saves the planet as well. Green!


  8. It’s really good to see that these principles are being brought into industry, since I’ve long wondered how we can really reduce our energy consumption if industry is not doing it too. But I do wonder if there will not have to be more sacrifices to be made. If people can save money by being green that’s great, but maybe this will not always be the case or maybe it won’t be enough, and then will industry still change?


  9. Many home buyers in Seattle are aware of Green homes. We now have a green home specialist in our office.


  10. Wow, there are some really interesting stats here. But with regards to saving electricity if we all just make small changes in our homes, like switching to CFL’s, it will make a big difference. And we should all try to save as much as we can untill a viable “green” energy source becomes available.


  11. I think the key here is the recycling bit – how about before another computer is sold, the ICT has to recycle one – that way they may be forced to use old computers :) Probably a little more expensive but worth it.


  12. If we all just do a little bit of “Greening” we can make a huge difference in the world


  13. Green computer usage is very smart. Especially for those who are online or using computers a lot. I am glad that my computers are green!


    • I agree, thats the way to go if we want to save some tech for our childs.


  14. As the data center industry grows increasingly obsessed with energy efficiency, cloud computing presents a compelling opportunity to reduce data center power bills. I think that is a good direction.


  15. Every “green” opinion is great maybe somedays we will green in every field. That`s my dream.


  16. Luckily, more and more people are becoming aware that we need to do something to preserve our planet. Because if we don’t, our quality of life will suffer… not to mention all the species that might go extinct.


  17. It’s a great idea to make ICT greener and good to know that the computer industry are being aware of the environment. This is a big contribution for saving our planet. Lets help each other make this world a better place to live in. Thanks for sharing this post!

    Please feel free to visit my site for more info: Business Keynote Speaker


  18. Recycling and eco-friendly products are the best way of becoming green. It leadsto energy conservation and helpful to reduce the cost of expenses.
    dewatering equipment


  19. This is really a great idea. It will help us and also the environment. Becoming green is really good it will keep us healthy and also the environment. Thanks for sharing this I really learned a lot.



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