What is green IT and how does it help federal agencies?

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What is Green Computing?

IBM defines green computing as “the design, manufacture, use, and disposal of computers, chips, other technology components, and peripherals in a manner that limits harmful impact on the environment “.

These actions are expected to help reduce carbon emissions as well as energy consumption for manufacturers, data centers and users, IBM’s report says. It also notes that green computing includes “choosing raw materials from sustainable sources, reducing e-waste, and promoting sustainability through the use of renewable resources.”

Doing it the right way could make a big difference. The information and communications technology sectors are responsible for up to 4% of global carbon emissions, according to the Association for Computing Machinery.

DIVE DEEPER: Get practical tips for making a data center greener.

On the power generation side, the DOE funds research into carbon capture technologies:

  • Afterburners separate carbon dioxide from the flue gases produced by conventional pulverized coal power plants.
  • Pre-combustion technologies separate carbon dioxide from hydrogen and other constituents in the fuel stream used by plants that burn synthesized target gas.

“We can also start getting carbon-free electricity from fossil fuels,” Anderson says.

The Home Office is also working to reclaim abandoned mining lands as renewable energy and computing hubs. The Mineral Gap data center in Wise County, southwestern Virginia, is an early example. The 65,000 square foot facility will be partially powered by on-site solar panels.

The private sector has quickly realized the value of reallocating the properties of disused coal-fired power plants to wind and solar power generation for one simple reason: they are already connected to the electricity grid.

How can federal agencies take advantage of green IT?

A data center consumes energy for much more than running servers. According to Aspen Global, 43% of electricity is for cooling and power supply systems. Another 14% is used by networking and storage devices, leaving the remaining 43% for servers.

With servers and air conditioning gobbling up the lion’s share, it’s a prime target for energy savings, says Ian Hoffman, policy and technical analyst at the Center of Expertise for Energy Efficiency in Data Centers. from the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

LEARN MORE: Virtualization helps federal agencies shrink physical data centers.

“Our feeling is to try to maximize efficiency and optimize your kilowatt hours before renewables,” Hoffman says.

Congress has asked agencies to consolidate their data center fleets and move to the cloud where possible. Although this moves data to another rack of servers elsewhere, hyperscale facilities run by large private players like Google, Amazon and Microsoft are “much more efficient than federal data centers.”

In most cases, private data center operators are also more aggressive when it comes to green energy. Amazon wants 100% renewable energy by 2025, 10 years earlier than the government.

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