Monday, 12 September 2011

The existing, new and emerging hardware, software and communications technologies for energy saving and material reuse in ICT

Energy saving - Data Centres and Client Equipment

Computers and telecommunications equipment contributes about 2% to greenhouse gas emissions. Data centres and client equipment can be made more efficient.

Client Equipment

Client equipment (desktop computers and printers) consume more energy and materials than data centres. The Natural Edge Project (TNEP) suggest four steps for minimising energy and materials consumption:
  1. Assess energy consumption by monitoring client equipment
  2. Consolidate operating client equipment only when necessary and removing unnecessary equipment
  3. Innovate by:
    1. Right-sized client equipment: do not buy more, or more powerful, equipment than needed
    2. Power management strategies: Turn off client equipment when not needed and turn on power management options in the equipment.
    3. Low-energy equipment: Select low energy component and equipment, such as processors, monitors, power supplies, RAM, flash memory and hard disks.
    4. Eco-Labels: Look for equipment meeting low energy standards.
  4. Manage and monitor the equipment and schedule high energy activities out of peak periods.

    Materials Use

    Energy reduction is only part of making a Green ICT system, there is also the issue of use of materials and hazardous substances.


    Electronic waste ("e-waste") is the material from unwanted electrical or electronic devices. Some e-waste can be sold for recycling and is described as "commodity" to distinguish it from "waste" which can't be reused. E-waste may contain toxic material is mostly not biodegradable.
    Many countries have regulations covering e-waste, including bans from landfill in Europe. Metals, including gold and silver make some e-waste commercially viable to reprocess.
    The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (Basel Convention) is an international treaty limiting the movement hazardous wastebetween nations, particularly from rich to poor nations. Australia, the EU and many developed nations apart from the USA have ratified the treaty.

    Australian Regulations

    Australia implemented the Basel convention with the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989. This regulates export, import and transit of hazardous waste within Australia. The 'Criteria for the export and import of used electronic equipment' assumes that electronic equipment is hazardous waste, until shown otherwise. Equipment to be re-used (after repair, refurbishment or upgrading) are not considered hazardous waste. Australian states have regulations on the disposal ofhazardous waste.

    Voluntary Programs

    Byteback is an Australian partnership between Sustainability Victoria, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Apple, Canon, Dell, Epson, Fujitsu, Fuji-Xerox, HP, IBM, Lenovo, and Lexmark. It allows individuals and small businesses to deposit unwanted computer equipment atVictorian locations. Similar programs in other states.


    The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is a system for evaluating electronic products against 51 environmental criteria from the US based Green Electronics Council.
    The criteria are contained in "Standard for Environmental Assessment of Personal Computer Products, Including Laptop & Desktop Computers & Monitors", IEEE 1680-2006.
    Products are ranked in three tiers:
    1. Bronze: Meets 23 required criteria
    2. Silver: Meets all required criteria plus at least 50% of the optional criteria
    3. Gold: Meets all required criteria plus at least 75% of the optional criteria
    Materials criteria are categorised as:
    1. Reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials,
    2. Materials selection,
    3. Design for end of life,
    4. Product longevity/life cycle extension,
    5. End of life management, and
    6. Packaging.
    Energy conservation using US EPA Energy Star and Corporate performance with adoption of ISO 14001 are also criteria.

    Government Procurement using EPEAT

    US Government agencies are required to procure products which meet 95 percent of the EPEAT criteria under "Executive Order: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management". The Green Electronic Council have detailed the claimed "Environmental Benefits of 2007 EPEAT Purchasing" (Green Electronic Council, June 2008).
    The Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator (University of Tennessee, April 2008) was used to assess EPEAT. For 2007 reduction in use of primary materials was assessed at 75.5 tons, recudtion in toxic materials of 3,220 tons, and avoidance in the disposal of 124,000 metric tons of hazardous waste.
    The Calculator was sponsored by the U.S. EPA and estimates benefits, such as green house gas reductions, waste avoided, mercury eliminated for EPEAT purchases. Metrics used:
    1. Energy savings
    2. Greenhouse gas reduction
    3. Solid waste reduction
    4. Primary material savings
    5. Hazardous waste reduction
    6. Toxic material reduction
    7. Air emissions
    8. Water emissions
    The Calculator is provided as an Excel spreadsheet. Purchasing data input is the number and type of EPEAT products purchased. The tool calculates the environmental benefits from the EPEAT products in comparison with an average non-EPEAT product.

    Methods and tools

    Methods and tools can be used in the planning, development, operation, management and maintenance of systems for Energy saving and to plan Materials Use.

    Scope and methodology for analysis of the role of ICT in energy use

    The Climate Group, provide three appendices with the Scope, process and methodology (Appendix 1), The Direct Impact Assumptions (Appendix 2) and The Enabling Effect Assumptions (Appendix 3) for their SMART 2020: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age (June 2008).
    This is both for estimating the the carbon footprint of ICT and how it may be used to reduce emissions in other sectors by using ICT.
    The analysis measures emissions CO2e, assuming, the ICT sector covered:
    • Personal Computers (PCs) and peripherals: workstations; laptops; desktops and; peripherals such as monitors and printers
    • IT services: data centres and their component servers; storage and cooling
    • Telecoms networks and devices: network infrastructure components; mobile phones; chargers; broadband routers and IPTV boxes.
    The study excluded consumer electronics in the home: TVs, video, gaming, audio devices and media players. Specialised electronic devices, such as medical equipment was also excluded. Different assumptions would need to be made for organisations in specific industry sectors. As an example, a games software developer could not exclude computer games and a hospital not exclude medical devices.

    Staged study

    The Climate Group carried out three phases of their study:
    1. Quantify the global impact of ICT: Models were developed for the direct footprint and the indirect (enabling) opportunities.
    2. In-depth case studies: Emissions reduction opportunities using ICT were developed.
    3. Assessment of imperatives for stakeholders: Workshops were conducted to investigate opportunities and barriers for: technology providerstechnology usersinvestors andregulators.

    Direct ICT impact (footprint) methodology

    The Climate Group used published estimates of global emissions and penetration rates of ICT devices and infrastructure. Estimates of population growth were then used to calculate future emissions in 2020. Data was from public studies; academic and industry literature; the team experts, consumer surveys and interviews with external experts.
    The analysis attempted a "cradle-to-grave" estimate of carbon emissions: manufacture, transport, use and disposal of equipment.
    Embodied carbon: CO2e in manufacturing of ICT components was calculated from public and company data. Embodied energy in end-of-life treatment: disposal, landfill and recycling, was included where data was available.
    Energy consumption of the components based on publicly available company data. An emissions factor was used to calculate the carbon emissions from energy consumption. The emissions from electricity generation vary depending on the technology used. The Climate Group divided the world into regions and used a different emissions factor for each region. Transmission losses in the electricity grid were similarly estimated.
    Market growth and penetration of devices to 2020 was based on industry reports and internal analysis. Growth in use of ICT and general industrial growth is more significant in developing areas of the world.

    Enabling impact methodology

    The Climate Group used a cost curve to identify emissions abatement solutions ranked by cost. The study concentrated on areas where emissions are significant: power; manufacturing; industry; transport; residential and commercial buildings; forestry; agriculture; and waste disposal. ICT applications were then assessed for use in reducing in emissions abatement on the cost curve. Four uses for ICT were then selected for detailed analysis.

    Direct impact assumptions

    The Climate Group were undertaking a high level global analysis and therefore used some very general assumptions in their analysis. As an example: 20% of desktops are workstations, Workstations consume 2.5 times desktop in all modes, Commercial usage of a computer is 14 hours/day versus consumer usage of three hours/day, Three types of servers: 200, 500, 6000W/unit. These assumptions are listed in "The Enabling Effect Assumptions" (Appendix 3) of the report. An analysis for an organisation may use locally developed estimates or actual measures, but may also use these same assumptions, in order to enable a direct comparison.

    Enabling effect assumptions

    The Climate Group made assumptions as to the effect ICT could have on other industry areas. As an example, it was assumed that Online media would replace DVDs and CDs. This assumed seven billion DVDs and 10 billion CDs globally were sold per year, with 1 Kg CO2e per CD/DVD and all this would be replaced with network delivery of content by 2020. Similarly electronic documents were assumed to reduce paper use by 25%. Organisation based studies should be able to use better estimates or local measures of disk and paper use.

    Estimating Power Management Savings for Computers

    Computers Off Australia (COA) provide instructions to Configure power management for PCs(2008) and two versions of an Energy Savings Calculator, to estimate the resulting savings. The Consortium for School Networking provide an Energy Usage Calculator specifically tailored for schools.
    COA provide instructions to configure power management for operating systems including Apple MacMicrosoft Windows XP and Vista. They recommend setting computers to enter system standby or hibernate after 15 to 30 minutes of inactivity and set monitors to enter sleep mode after 5 to 20 minutes of inactivity. On laptops, these need to be activated in the AC power profile, as well as battery power) profile.
    COA provide a Power Management Calculator. The web based form prompts for the number of Monitors and Computer boxes to be power managed and the price of electricity (with 12 cents per kWh as the default in Australian average), Hours in Workday and Days in Work week. Defaults are provided for the Active Power and Sleep Power (in watts) used by monitors and PCs. Estimates of the proportion of units power managed, Units Turned Off After Work are used and Tons CO2 are calculated.


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