Green Computing

Carbon factlets

  • A Sky news report claim that carbon emissions from the global ICT community equal that of the worldwide aviation industry and are growing much faster.
  • One small computer server generates as much carbon dioxide as a SUV with a fuel efficiency of 15 miles per gallon.
  • The ICT industry in the UK consumes the equivalent amount of electricity as produced by 4 nuclear reactors.  

Global Action Plan

  • Government to provide incentives to help companies reduce the carbon footprint of their IT activities
  • Government to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of energy for data centre needs in the future
  • Government to review its policies on long-term data storage to take into account the carbon implications
  • ICT vendors to significantly improve the quality of their environmental information
  • ICT departments to be accountable for the energy costs of running and cooling ICT equipment
  • Companies to ensure ICT departments are fully engaged in their CSR and environmental policies
  • Companies to ensure that their ICT infrastructure meets stricter efficiency targets


  • Where do our old computers, monitors, printers etc end up?
  • How long do they take to break down in landfill?
  • What are the alternatives?

New Business models needed

Instead of measuring the value of a network in terms of "bits per second", we instead should be using "bits per carbon".  And while the utilization of R&E network may be low by traditional measurement standards of "bps" its impact on the environment may be significantly less when measured by "bpc” compared to a commercial network. And once again, the R&E networks can help develop a new business model through carbon offset trading by demonstrating that an optical light-path mesh network has significantly less of a carbon footprint than a traditional electronic routed network.

Electricity demand to drive ICTs

The carbon footprint of dark fiber, wavelengths and customer controlled network with optical switches is significantly less than a traditional carrier with expensive high end switches and (especially) routers which collectively consume the power of a small nuclear reactor.  

NZ’s public service computing total energy consumption is approximately the same as the power output from the Benmore Hydro Dam!

Most [university]departments do not pay for the power and cooling costs associated with these facilities and so do not appreciate their true impact on the overall energy use of the university or the associated carbon emissions.

Quotes are taken from Bill St Arnaud, Canada

Take aways

  • How “green” are the ICT investments in your school?
  • Do issues of sustainability and energy conservation take priority over cost?
  • How actively are you investigating shared data storage and shared services solutions?