Green IT (environmentally sustainable computing)

What is green IT?

Green IT is the practice of environmentally sustainable computing, intending to minimise
the negative impact of IT operations on the environment. This includes designing, manufacturing, operating, and disposing of computers and computer-related products in an environmentally friendly manner. It also includes decreasing the use of hazardous materials, maximising energy efficiency during the
product’s lifetime and promoting the biodegradability of unused and outdated products.

The concept

Green IT emerged back in 1992 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched Energy Star. It was introduced as a voluntary labelling program that helps organisations save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by identifying and promoting products that are energy efficient. Other components of green IT include the redesign of data centres and the growing popularity of virtualisation, green networking, and cloud computing.

The techniques in Green Computing

Green manufacturing

This involves using green materials and minimising power consumption during production. It means that when a green system is created, it should have components that meet the energy efficiency standards certified by an environmental organisation, e.g., Energy Star. For it to be classified as ‘Green manufacturing’, none of the components must use any harmful chemicals like halogenated flame retardants.

Green disposal

This means recycling your computer in a responsible and environmentally friendly manner. This also means existing computers need to be recycled either into a new computer or into other products.

Green use

This ask the question – are you your computer in the most energy-efficient way possible? This can include: disconnecting your external devices, e.g. printers or sound systems (when you are not using them), adjusting your computer’s energy settings to ‘sleep’ mode when they are left idle for a few minutes, and shutting down your computer when it’s not in use.

Green design

When designing a green system, this will involve considerations such as environmentally friendly materials, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, and reducing energy use. During the design period, the life cycle of a computer will be assessed to see if its life cycle can be extended so that the computer is not replaced as often.

Will green computing affect the performance of computers?

The aims of green computing are very beneficial and positive for the planet; however, it may affect performance. For instance, green computing machines may have power settings that could create a slower system performance than users expect. It could also mean that the green computers may have components that are not as powerful as other electronic devices.
That is not to say that Green computers are total donkeys, they can still be excellent if designed efficiently. Their priority of course is to reduce the energy used and minimise the environmental impact of computers. The question is, what is important to you?