Going Green – ICT enabling a cleaner and energy efficient economy
On November 8-11, I took part in the 2010 Care Innovation summit on ‘Going Green’, held this year in Vienna. Participants from across the ICT sector attended the two-day event to better understand how our sector should be part of the answer to reduce greenhouse gases and not part of the problem.
Dennis Pamlin recently said in a video interview that innovation and ICT are key elements to lead to a cleaner, more energy-efficient economy, which I agree wholeheartedly. But we also need to be very active in using the same technology to reduce our own industry’s greenhouse gas footprint.
Microsoft tackles this by making our operations greener, ‘Design for the Environment’ and ‘Life Cycle concepts’ have become integrated into our product development cycles, especially in the four key areas of energy efficiency, recycling, materials, and packaging. For example, our flagship product Windows 7 has over 35 power saving features built into the default settings. In 2010, our new Chicago and Dublin data centres received awards for their energy efficiency.
Dublin was recognized as a best practice for energy efficiency by the European Commission’s Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign and Chicago received the Uptime Institute’s Green Enterprise IT Award. We are also looking to our research teams to come up with new solutions to reduce power consumption through innovative data centre design, the use of wireless sensors for cooling, and by scaling down peak loads. Early results have shown energy consumption reductions from as little as 1.4 to 70 times reduction.
In my address to the summit, I stated Microsoft’s strong belief that the true value of innovation lies in the capacity of ICT to enable a low carbon and dematerialized economy. For example, a recently released study by GeSI called: “Evaluating the Carbon Reducing Impacts of ICT – An enablement methodology” that showcases ICT’s promise of providing a practical and consistent methodology and road map for assessing low carbon enablement capacity. There are several case studies that provide in depth breakdowns with a scope of applied and direct ICT emissions, enabling and rebound effects. One example about retrofitting buildings by a company in California using wireless thermostats and hubs led to emission reductions of 345 tonnes of CO2 per 300 thousand square feet a year. We look forward to further developments of industry-wide methodologies and standards by the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (INEMI), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the ICT for Energy Efficiency forum and other bodies as well as an acceleration of case studies. Tackling sustainability needs new approaches and new ideas. As an industry working together we have the opportunity to do even more. An example of such collaboration is the Voluntary Agreement for Complex Set Top Boxes, the FIRST voluntary agreement to gain approval under the Energy Related Products Directive.
In order for the ICT industry to improve the global condition of the environment and people, it will require strong collaboration from both the public and the private sectors, and above all increased policy support for research and development. In fact, the necessity of promoting effective ICT innovation through public policies is critical for economies to compete, create growth and jobs, and tackle climate change.