In today’s computers-centric world, we are becoming increasingly reliant on technology: we connect to servers through networks to access storage sites, which house our information, so we can collaborate, automate and meet deadlines. We work more productively, open-up closed borders and make the world more interconnected.
With the democratization of the internet, the power to change lies at our fingertips, where users can start a trending topic that can make headlines around the world. Technology has realigned the fault-lines and trickled into virtually every sphere of society, from academia to business operations.
In the age of conscious consumerism, we need to think hard-and-deep about the resources that go into making the technology that we use. Hardware-intensive components like microchips, networking wires, IT backup and data centers require synthetic materials, minerals, chemicals, metals and other resources. Energy is also a big determinant of ecological impact and you must consider, for example, the amounts of power needed to cool cloud and corporate data centers.
The sustainability of the way we discard and use technology is important especially for a society primed with a new conservationist attitude. In light of this environmentalist shift, IT because of its scope and impact, must be responsible and play its part. Green IT is managing technology resources in a more environmentally responsible way. Three areas of environmentalist tenets should be addressed from the standpoint of IT:
- E-Waste: It takes a lot of materials, metals and chemicals to create tech-based products. Studies have shown that approximately ten-percent of the gold in the world is used in electronics. Less than a third of this is recovered from scrap. What is even more worrisome is only ten-percent of the cooper is recovered. There is also a huge recycling crisis when it comes to technology. For example, just less than 30% of the e-waste that is created in the U.S. is recycled in a responsible fashion. This has massive ecological ramifications. The rest of the discarded technology is most-likely lying in a landfill and will likely find its way into the earth or water supply, which affects marine life and the quality of the water we drink.
- Energy: The data centers that help bring to life our applications and the power that is needed to charge everyday consumer electronics, is immense. It is estimated that ten-percent of the world’s electricity is used to power technology and telecommunications. This electricity is usually powered by coal-fired plants, which is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.
- Innovation: Technology helps produce innovation. IT must not only look to take preventative measures to environmental problems but also looks to be part of the solution. Technology must bring forth solutions that can have incredible and impactful solutions. Such as harnessing and tapping-into the massive potential of tidal energy. IT will make us more energy efficient and will look at utilizing technologies that minimize and reduce carbon footprint.
A recent GTP survey has shown that over half of American-based businesses use green technologies to reduce waste and energy consumption. Small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) sometimes feel that they are too small to make an environmental impact. This is untrue, as every small step helps. Another strategy that SMBs can take is to purchase solutions from green-minded vendors which helps them pave the way to being fully in-line with the strategy to be Green IT.
Many of the big companies have transitioned over and embraced green technologies and platforms. Transnational vendors are looking to build systems that consume less energy, provide free or low-cst recycling programs to dispose old systems and proactively help SMBs who want to go green. Dell, for example, has used 100% renewable generated electricity for over a dozen of their facilities, use less packaging materials, increased their use of recycled plastics, and integrating a work-from-home program that allows them to minimize traffic.