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23 April 2010

Earth Day warning for green IT

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Industry must try harder, say experts

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, environmental and industry experts have warned that, although IT firms have made progress in embracing greener measures, there is still a lot of work to be done and that the big challenges lie ahead.

Earth Day was founded by US senator Gaylord Nelson to raise awareness of environmental issues. However, it appears that its ethos is still to be fully implemented in the IT industry.

A recent Greenpeace report, Make IT Green argued that companies providing cloud services need to phase out the use of "dirty" sources of energy such as coal, and look to cleaner, renewable energy sources.

The report pointed to Apple's North Carolina facility which uses just 3.8 per cent of renewable energy compared with 50.75 per cent coal and 38.7 nuclear, and Microsoft's Texas datacentre which uses just 11 per cent renewable energy.

It also cited a 2008 study by Smart:2020 called The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative which claimed that cloud computing will require 1,963 billion kW/h of electricity to power the datacentres and telecoms infrastructures hosting its services by 2020, a threefold increase on the power required in 2007.

However, despite these apparently dismal figures, many argue that a lot has been done to make IT greener.

Simon Mingay, a research vice president at Gartner, said that things have improved a lot since 2005, when enterprises rarely asked questions about the environmental performance of a product or a vendor.


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