Global warming; climate change with unpredictable weather patterns; renewable resources and sustainable infrastructures: everywhere you turn today, there are environmental issues that are having an increasingly urgent impact on our private and professional lives. At work, as at home, a gradual awareness – if not panic – is setting in that our ancient planet is getting exhausted supporting 7 billion humans plus its flora and fauna.
Unsurprisingly, IT departments have also begun looking at ways to reduce energy and become more eco friendly. This includes being more energy efficient with heating, cooling, and lighting, as well as being mindful about reducing electronic waste and other consumables.
One thing in particular that has caught businesses’ attention is making their office greener with green computing. Aware of the physical office’s impact on the environment, organisations are starting to introduce a green office concept. But what does this look like exactly? We explain all below.
What is green computing?
So it is that so-called “green computing” has been gaining traction in both hardware and software development. Also known as “green technology,” green computing means using computers and their accompanying resources and systems in as eco friendly a way as possible to reduce the amount of energy being consumed.
Sustainable practices include using energy efficient central processing units (CPUs), servers, and other peripherals. Key, too, is the drive to minimise energy consumption across the entire organisation by encouraging best practices such as using recycled paper, making use of natural light rather than keeping light switches on, and opening windows to reduce reliance on air conditioned rooms.
Initially focussed on finding sustainable solutions concerning raw computing power – which was central to computer chip design and production – more emphasis is being put into energy-efficient processing. Uppermost in developers’ minds today are ways of compensating for carbon footprints and curbing carbon emissions. It is here that immediate future competitiveness is thought to lie.
Why green computing is needed
It’s becoming an urgent need to make offices greener with green computing. Statistics show that medium-sized businesses use up to 60,000 kWh of gas and 50,000 kWh of electricity a year. Reducing this by being better at power management will not only help lower carbon emissions, but also help your business save money from expensive utility bills.
Beyond chip manufacture and computing power, much more thought is now being given to making computers themselves more energy-efficient as well as promoting “green” habits among computer users. As far as computers are concerned they can be more efficient.
A report by Pierre Delforge has highlighted this: he notes that “Computers and monitors are among the biggest energy consumers among electronics. Keeping them running takes the equivalent of 30 large power plants while emitting 65 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution. Unfortunately, much of that energy is wasted when computers sit idle — particularly with desktops, which draw power from a wall outlet instead of a battery and thus give manufacturers little incentive to optimize energy use”
Barbara Brady, of GreenBiz Group, comments on the report that “the energy waste — and therefore potential for energy efficiency — is even a bigger deal for very high performance computers, using very demanding chips. They continue to draw the power needed for the demanding computing activity of high performance graphics even as the user stops to get a cup of coffee or slows down processing needs by simply surfing the net or checking email” .
How to be greener at work
There is much, however, that individuals can do to make the office greener with green computing. While manufacturers get on with improving hardware, we consumers can implement fairly straight-forward good-practice using existing hardware.
Finding environmentally friendly software is, as yet, very difficult. That said, it delivers the ability to manage projects more efficiently and collaborate better, which ultimately means you’re saving energy that would otherwise be wasted by project delays and unproductive meetings.
You can also use your employee intranet to foster environmental awareness within your company. Using your intranet’s collaboration tools, you could create a “green community” area that encourages teams to share green tips and ideas for reducing energy. To supplement this, you could add a “Green Tip of The Day” widget to your intranet homepage that reminds staff to recycle rather than bin paperwork, and a friendly nudge to “turn off your computer when you leave the office!”
Add a “green tip of the day” to your intranet homepage
Another angle would be to use your Learning Management System to enable employees to expand their knowledge about green initiatives. You could also encourage staff to post green topics and encourage debate, ‘likes’, comments, and feedback.
One obvious contribution to the paperless office, of course, is using e-forms and workflows software, which eliminates the need for physical paperwork.
The quickest way to help, however, is to make sure all computers and peripherals are powered down – and turned off at the wall socket – when not in use. Go green! ♻️