A Recap of the Sights and Sounds of COP15

Friday, January 8, 2010 |

By Lorie Wigle, President
Climate Savers Computing Initiative

While the negotiations generated the headlines at the U.N.’s Climate Change Conference, there was also a good deal of discussion on the role of technology in providing the means of achieving whatever targets are set in the coming year. I had the opportunity to participate in several events that were enlightening in content and set in a remarkable context.

I mentioned the Green IT Panel in my previous blog post, however I wanted to elaborate on this educational debate on the role of technology in mitigating climate change. The event was kicked off by Danish Minister for Climate and Energy Lykke Friis and moderated by Professor Jacqueline McGlade, the executive director of the European Environment Agency. Professor McGlade was quite a dynamic discussion leader with very engaging questions and a great rapport with the audience. In addition to the usual discussion about smart grids, employee engagement and 2 percent (ICT’s carbon emissions) vs. 98 percent (other industries’ emissions that could be mitigated by use of technology) there were excellent discussions about how we can enable visualization of energy use and how capabilities such as telework could ultimately move system boundaries. For example, if enough people work from home, ultimately we might need fewer roads, different communications infrastructure and evolved social networking tools. Not only was the conversation engaging, but the best part of the experience was absolutely the setting. Below is an image of “Old Stock Exchange” where the debate was held. We HAD to think big thoughts in such an environment!

Another event that was especially memorable was a trade fair put on during the weekend called Bright Green, and it was a testimony to the plethora of technology innovations available for energy efficiency, renewable energy and smarter society, with exhibits from more than 170 companies. It was a very important event with more than 10,000 attendees and speeches given by the Danish Prime Minister, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and many others. Bright Green was even visited by royalty with a panel consisting of the Crown Princes of Denmark and Norway, along with the Princess of Sweden. “All three countries border arctic regions,” said Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, adding “We’re all very concerned.” And they stayed around to tour all the exhibits and interact with attendees. My personal favorite moment though came at the end of an interview with Danish TV-2. I was told that my discussion about Climate Savers Computing would wrap up quickly because “some singing” was about to begin. Sure enough, just as I finished my last answer, a parade of beautiful young girls came down the stairs behind us clothed in white robes, carrying candles and singing St. Lucia’s music. It was magical.

The interview with TV-2 was just one of many opportunities I had to discuss Climate Savers Computing. Here is another interview where I discussed the future of Climate Savers Computing with eWeek Europe.

I am very thankful for the chance to attend COP15 and believe that important and significant dialogue about energy-efficient technology took place that align with and advance the mission of Climate Savers Computing.

Notes from COP15

Friday, December 11, 2009 |

By Lorie Wigle, President
Climate Savers Computing Initiative

The opportunity to participate in the opening week of the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen (COP15) has been a great experience. I am here to discuss the role of ICT in reducing CO2 emissions in several different forums, but have also been attending portions of the official climate conference itself, including a discussion (pictured below) by representatives of island nations about the urgent need for a binding climate agreement.

The proceedings have been a needed dose of reality for the ICT industry. It has helped bring to the forefront the importance of our goal at Climate Savers Computing of reducing CO2 emissions from computing by 54 million tons.

I was on hand here for the release of a new study released by IDC on how ICT can contribute to sustainability. (You can also listen to a recording from this event.)

I also just spoke at the Green IT Panel on which the senior corporate management from Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Intel, Konica Minolta and Microsoft collaborated to discuss how to counteract climate change and provide input for the ongoing climate negotiations at COP15.

We’ve got more to do, and our industry will need to continue the fantastic collaboration that has made Climate Savers Computing a success. There’s more to come, and I’ll be posting a recap of the next few days soon.

Countdown to Copenhagen

Friday, December 4, 2009 |

By Lorie Wigle, President
Climate Savers Computing Initiative

Tomorrow, I will be heading to the historic United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen (COP15). This conference will bring together negotiators from 192 countries to address global economic and humanitarian challenges and work toward a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Many Climate Savers Computing members are sending representatives to participate and engage in the global dialogue about the threat of climate change. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to attend COP15 and to represent Climate Savers Computing as the industry discusses how advances in technology, and specifically computing, can be part of the solution in combating climate change.

I will be attending several events throughout the week that will address technology and energy use, including how energy efficiency is being deployed in the market. The first is the IDC press conference on Dec. 10, where the ICT Sustainability Index will be released. This report reviews and scores a country’s ability to use information and communications technologies (ICT) to effectively reduce its CO2 emissions. Several Climate Savers Computing member companies will be part of a presenter’s panel, including Fujitsu, Hitachi, Intel and HP.

The WWF Arctic Tent at COP15 will highlight impacts to the Arctic region and display this theme in different ways each day during the conference. Climate Savers Computing will be featured in the WWF Climate Savers booth within the Arctic Tent during the “Business Day.” There will also be a WWF CEO breakfast that will bring together CEOs from around the world interested in discussing global solutions.

Lastly, I will be presenting at a press conference and panel discussion focused on how ICT can have an impact on the environment, which will allow me to highlight the role of Climate Savers Computing in this arena and how we’re moving towards our goals.

I’m looking forward to representing Climate Savers Computing at COP15. This global event may be the first time so many stakeholders from our industry are all in one place. There is more to come; and I’ll be posting updates from these events with some photos next week.

Stay tuned.

Green IT: One Path to a Green Recovery

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 |

By Andrew Winston
Founder of Winston Eco-Strategies and author

Over the last few years, a green wave has swept the business world — an unpredictable mix of concern about natural world degradation, volatile energy and resource prices, and rising “stakeholder” questions — from business customers, consumers, employees, and other pressure groups. Going green has been very hard to avoid. And yet, during this brutal recession, many companies have slowed their green activities. In my new book Green Recovery, I make the case that putting environmental initiatives to the side is a big strategic mistake.

Contrary to one very common misperception, going green doesn’t raise costs, it lowers them (in the long run definitely, and in the short-run very, very often). One core path out of this economic mess is to get lean now to save money — both for survival and to reinvest in people and in innovation. The leading companies are thinking about tomorrow and the inevitable recovery. They’re preparing for a vastly changed economy, one that’s far less resource-intensive. But here I want to focus on today’s cost savings opportunities. Five areas of the business are ripe for quick paybacks from green thinking: facilities (heating, cooling and lighting), fleet and distribution, waste, telework, and IT. Let’s look at IT specifically and why companies are still going green.

When industry analyst Gartner Group estimated that information and communications technology was responsible for 2 percent of global carbon emissions — equal to the entire aviation industry — most people outside the IT world (and many inside it) were shocked. At the core of these numbers lies the shocking inefficiency of data centers.

Of all the energy going into a modern server farm, IBM estimates, less than 4 percent actually processes something—you know, what the room was built for. The other 96 percent of electrons are lost at three stages: (1) cooling the room itself, (2) cooling the stacks or “blades” of servers, and (3) keeping idle machines humming. Most of this energy is wasted and costs real money. In recent years, the share of a data center’s variable cost going to energy has grown fast. What was once a tiny part of the budget is now 40 or 50 percent of the operating cost. Over the life of a server, you can easily spend twice as much on electricity as on the capital cost of the server itself.

In response, the competition has been fierce to tackle those three stages of the problem and find ways to slash the energy budget. First, look at the design of the data center itself. One of my favorite “head-slapper” strategies in all of the greening movement is the use of outside air economization — that is, effectively opening the door and letting hot air out rather than cooling it — which Intel estimates can save $3 million in a 10 mega-watt data center.

Second, companies are looking at the server hardware. They’re shutting down orphaned systems — Sun discovered during its “Bring Out Your Dead” day that 4,100 of its servers were unused, but plugged in sucking energy. But sometimes, as the Wall Street Journal suggested earlier this year, “the smartest thing to do is invest in new, more efficient systems.” One company, Fair Isaac Corporation, bought new, more efficient servers and cut the total number in its data processing center in half. This requires some capital expenditure, but the paybacks can be fast.

Third, software companies are vying to help handle server loads and increase the average 20 percent utilization rate (meaning, 4 of 5 servers are basically idle, waiting for peak loads). The buzzword is virtualization, or using software to create pseudoservers that run in parallel on the same physical server and use all that idle processing power.

For companies using all of these tactics, such as Microsoft, newer datacenters can use 50 percent less energy than ones built just a few years ago. And that’s just the large IT systems. Many organizations are now utilizing software to control all the PCs sitting on desks, putting them to sleep overnight and often saving millions. None of this pressure to cut back on IT energy and cost is going away. Forrester reported in January 2009 that 60 percent of IT managers are using green criteria in their procurement decisions and that even in tight times more managers are accelerating green IT efforts than slowing them down.

But what’s the most powerful thing you can do to reduce IT energy use? Every time I speak to tech companies or sustainability execs, I hear one theme over and over: The people who create the energy use don’t have a clue how much it’s costing. The prescription: Add the power bill to the CIO’s budget.

Andrew Winston works with leading companies to use environmental strategy to grow and prosper. He is author of the newly released Green Recovery and co-author of the best seller, Green to Gold.

What New Skills and Relationships should IT Managers Acquire?

Thursday, July 23, 2009 |

By John Skinner
Alternate Board Member of Climate Savers Computing
Director of Eco-Technology Marketing at Intel Corporation

I was recently asked by an editor at Computerworld: in this “Green IT” era, what are the critical new areas of expertise and skills that IT managers must acquire? I thought to myself – IT professionals already have enough on their plate. But it got me thinking, what are the various resources that IT managers can tap into, who might become motivated to help them achieve their Green IT goals and who might ease some of the burden of research, funding and implementation? Specifically, which new partners can IT managers enlist to help them drive their initiatives around energy efficiency, energy cost savings and carbon-reduction?

One of the IT manager’s potential allies may be a relatively new one the scene. An increasing number of organizations have recently launched a tops-down, CEO-sponsored sustainability initiative. These actions may be motivated by a combination of factors: customer requirements, competitors, shareholder expectations, corporate reputation goals, existing or imminent government policies, etc. In response, many organizations have identified a “Sustainability Manager” to formulate corporate-wide goals, and to ensure they are met. Unbeknownst to many CEOs and their sustainability managers, the IT Department holds the key to some of the most immediate energy and carbon savings. For example, by activating and using power management technology that is largely already built into most computers, IT departments can cut the energy use of their desktop PC fleets almost in half. The IT Department would be wise to reach out to Sustainability Officers and related managers, comprehend the company’s carbon-reduction goals and offer to be one of the “heroes” who will help them (and the CEO) achieve those goals. If the sustainability officer has access to funding for projects and technologies that can deliver carbon-reduction, so much the better. It’s certainly worth asking if they do.

A second potential ally of the IT manager is the “Energy Procurement Manager.” In many organizations, the electricity bill for IT operations, such as data centers and PC networks, is never seen or paid by the IT Department, but rather by the “Facilities” Department. This Facilities Department, and the energy procurement manager, are always under pressure from the Chief Financial Officer to minimize energy expenses. They have also likely been enlisted recently by the new corporate sustainability manager (mentioned previously), to help reduce the environmental footprint of the company. As with the Sustainability Manager, the IT Manager would be wise to reach out to this Department, identify goals they have in common,and collaborate around reducing IT-related energy costs and carbon.

A third, but certainly not least, ally is the local electricity supplier, i.e. the local energy utility. While IT managers frequently interact with vendors of IT equipment and services, the Energy Procurement Manager interacts frequently with their local electricity supplier. In increasing numbers, and for a variety of motivations including environmental regulations and the availability of new government subsidies, utility companies are offering rebates and other support to large commercial customers, to help them implement energy-efficient IT solutions. Today’s IT Manager would be wise to research, perhaps with some help from their Energy Procurement Manager, the various incentives and other support that may be available from their local utility, for computer power-management activation, Energy Star computer purchases, etc.

These new relationships and collaborations may not be easy for every IT Manager to initiate, which is why Climate Savers Computing is trying to help. An important first step is to bring more utility companies to the table, to enlist them as partners in helping us all create a lower-carbon, more energy-efficient future for IT. As part of that effort, Climate Savers Computing and the US EPA are co-hosted an informational Webinar on July 21 specifically for utilities. The Webinar outlined the problem of IT-related energy waste, and discussed what role utilities can play in helping their customers eliminate this waste. If you’d like more information on this Webinar and other upcoming Webinars on this topic, click here.

I look forward to your comments, including any suggestion you have for actions that the Climate Savers Computing Initiative and others should be considering, as we move forward.

We’re One Year Old!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 |
By Lorie Wigle
Intel Corporation
The Climate Savers Computing Initiative celebrates its first anniversary this month! The relevance of our mission has never been higher. Since our founding in June 2007, the cost of a barrel of oil has doubled, climate change has continued to intensify, and the global demand for energy efficiency has accelerated. In response to these growing challenges, many organizations, governments, and individuals have stepped forward to join us and share their resources and expertise.

In the past 12 months, we’ve grown our membership to nearly 250 companies, published best practices for power management, completed our first round of technical specifications for more energy-efficient computers, and formed alliances with organizations who share our vision. Starting with a small membership base and small marketing budget, we have steadily increased the visibility of the organization, and with the help of new members, have also raised our worldwide impact and goals moving forward.

Tokyo, Hanover, Beijing, Taipei, Stockholm, Shanghai, Melbourne, not to mention Kansas City, New York and San Francisco – just some of the places where we’ve promoted energy efficient computers and use of power management. The organization has become more and more global as we’ve added active sponsor and associate members outside the U.S. Regional Committees are driving the Climate Savers Computing agenda in Japan, Europe and Asia.

CeBIT gave us a big boost in Europe and just last month we signed an MOU with the Green IT Promotional Council in Japan. And we formed an alliance with the China Electronics Energy Saving Council in China who will carry out the Climate Savers Computing effort there. In the U.S. we’ve aligned with the EPA to promote common efficiency targets and power management.

We are in the middle of compiling the results of our first member survey to calculate the performance against our energy savings goals. We should have an update for you on that in the next few weeks, but the early data looks very good.

And that brings me to the point that we’re not finished. We need to stay focused on the 2010 goals! Along with our anniversary comes the first increment in our efficiency goals. All members should review the efficiency criteria for our 2nd year and be sure to update procurement plans accordingly. Achieving the 50% savings by 2010 requires that we move to more efficient systems each year.

Thank you for the great support of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative’s work over the last year! Thanks to our growing list of members, we have considerable momentum and expertise heading into our second year. Please post comments on any ideas you have to make us more effective. We are in the midst of planning our annual members meeting -- you’ll hear more on this soon. And I hope to meet you soon.

CeBIT: Green IT Village and Climate Savers Computing

Sunday, March 9, 2008 |
By Dileep Bhandarkar

This was my first CeBIT, and I was not sure what to expect. I had heard that it was a very big show, but you have to see it to believe it. With more thank 30 huge halls spread over a large area, it would be exhausting to walk corner to corner. There is no way that anyone can see every stall in every building. The halls are generally organized by themes. Inspite of the size and the large number of attendees, it does not feel crowded. They have 3 color buses running different routes for the attendees, and VW minivans that take exhibitors to any destination.

My visit started with the opening ceremony where my CEO, Steve Ballmer, gave the opening keynote followed by speeches by German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy. It was especially gratifying to hear Steve mention Microsoft's involvement in the Climate Savers Computing Initiative in his speech (of course, I knew he was planning to, but things can change at the last minute)!

There were plenty of signs all over the CeBIT campus pointing to the Green IT Village in Hall 9 with the Climate Savers Computing logo displayed prominently. We were in the back of Hall 9, but still had a fair amount of traffic in sporadic bursts. Allyson (renamed Allymore :-)) was on the front page of the CeBIT News on Tuesday morning. There were several TV stations and radio stations (that I had never heard of before) who came by and interviewed Kevin, Allyson or me. We had print reporters, individuals, and small companies visit the booth. Many signed the pledge. Companies promised to have their management look into it.

Several questions came up, but most were predictable. Some were skeptical. Some wanted to know how this would work in Europe. Were our goals too aggressive? How can we monitor if people really do what they say? I even chatted with someone from Greenpeace!

I was pleased that I had a full house (don't ask how big the house was) for my presentation. I proved to Barbara that I could do 20 slides in less than 20 minutes. I also had several questions, mostly from the moderator from BITKOM, who appears to be warming up to Climate Savers Computing. It will be great if our discussions with BITKOM actually result in them joining and helping us connect with their membership. BITKOM is a national trade association that represents information and communication technology, and new media companies in Germany, with over 800 members.

It is clear that we need a strong European leader to give us more credibility in Europe. The European marketing teams of our US members are doing a good job for us in Europe, but there is nothing better than having a local champion. I have a potential candidate, but don't want to count my chicken(s) too soon.

It will take more than a Green IT Village to save our climate!

From dreary Hannover,