Monday, 15 October 2007

3 things you can do at home *AND* work to reduce your IT environmental footprint

In honour of Blog Action Day, this post is given over entirely to the discussion of ways in which we as IT professionals, developers, administrators, team leaders and managers can help to reduce our footprint on the planet, reduce our carbon emissions, and enable our employees, employers, and associates to reduce theirs.

3 things you can do now at home AND work to reduce your IT CO2 footprint:

Power down your home *AND* work computers each night, and turn them off a the wall socket.

Most would know that there is a number of ways to "switch off" your machine, including stand by, hibernate and shut down. But the power consumption of your machine doesn't stop there. It's important to note that anything that has a transformer (the old 'power brick') such as a laptop, LCD screen, printer / fax / MFP, continue to consume power when plugged in to a live power outlet (i.e. the switch at the wall is on), regardless of whether the appliance is powered off or not.

Even mobile phone (cell phone) chargers plugged in and turned on draw a current, whether or not the phone is actually attached. Treehugger makes the claim that 40% of the energy used for electronics in your home is used while these devices are turned off.

And here's the trick, many consumers are becoming conscious of doing this at home to save some dollars on their electricity bill, but how many of us think of turning off our PCs and powered devices at work when we leave for the day? I haven't been at an IT department or an organisation yet that advocates this at a department or organisational level.

Concerned about the "Wear and Tear" of powering your devices on and off? Well, there is anecdotal evidence that powering a machine down every day may increase wear and tear on components such as the hard drive, however Google Research reported "Surprisingly, we found that temperature and activity levels were much less correlated with drive failures than previously reported."

Turn off your "flashy" screen savers

Screen savers use as much power as a screen in normal use. Change your power options to turn the screen off after a period of inactivity, and don't use the screen saver. The original need for them has now all but disappeared with modern screens, the burn in effect doesn't occur in modern monitors, but "burn-ing" of fossil fuels to show that boring Windows logo is very much a problem.

Mystery Machines

Mark Monroe, Sun Microsystem's Director of Sustainable Computing, coined the term Data Centre Drift to describe the situation where a server is installed to run an application, eventually that application is no longer needed and is turned off, but the server remains on, serving no purpose but to use power and take up space. He also described the role of server virtualisation in minimising the number of physical machines required and save energy and emissions in the data centre. Maybe it's time for an audit of your servers to save a few CO2 tonnes and decommission that redundant server?

Many thanks

Many thanks to my friend Ben Harrison for helping me to put this post together. We hope that this post will make at least a few out there think about changing their IT practices at home AND work for the better of us all.


Pete_S said...

Don't forget that powerdown should also include those energy eating home appliances such as TVs...

I run my home-office PC off a 'smart' power block - as soon as I shutdown the PC all of the other power-bricks run off the block go down too

Nice post, Chris!

Paul said...

good one Chris.

Thanks for explaining 'mystery machines' too ... always wondered what all that dead iron in the data centre was;-)

Robert Vollman said...

One more environmental-friendly tip ...

Rather than staying on-line reading your email, print them all up on paper, power down your computer, and read them off-line.


Matt said...

Great tips but thanks for pointing out Blog Action Day. I posted against plastic water bottles on my blog (which isn't related to Oracle.)

Anonymous said...

Goo post! Does switching off the surge protector to stop the current to all the power bricks disable it from protecting against surges? (Or in other words, will it protect whether it's turned on or off?)

Sassa said...

No, you shouldn't print the emails out. This way you waste more energy printing it, and don't forget the poor trees that your paper is made up of.

Unless, of course, you print the emails on the same paper all the time, why not scribble them on the wall?