Climate Savers Computing: Grading Green Accomplishments

This column is brought to you by Climate Savers Computing Initiative, a nonprofit group of eco-conscious consumers, businesses and conservation organizations started by Google and Intel in 2007.

November and December often mark the months when people and organizations take a close look at some of the events that occurred during the last twelve months to determine potential opportunities and action items for the coming year. One of the ways Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) does this is through its annual member’s meeting that takes place via web conference every November.

This year’s meeting took place on November 15 when members from all over the world were invited to hear about what’s going on within the organization and how they can further support the CSCI mission of reducing the energy consumption and green house gas emissions of computing equipment through the use of PC power management and the development and adoption of sustainable information and communications technologies (ICT).

This year we added a new dimension to the meeting by assigning grades to key initiatives. We did this as a planning exercise for 2012 and to give members a tool for gauging how we are doing in meeting our initial 2007 goal of reducing green house gas emissions from ICT by 54 million metric tons per year by this past July, the end of our fiscal year 2010.

We started this year’s meeting by focusing on membership accomplishments, and we’re pleased to say there were many. In June Samsung became the newest member of our Management Board, joining representatives from Cisco, Emerson Network Power, F5 Networks, Google, Intel, Juniper Networks, Microsoft and World Wildlife Fund in driving the strategic direction of CSCI on a global basis. We also saw our membership roster grow to nearly 700, with organizations of all sizes and representing a variety of industries and regions joining to visibly demonstrate their commitment to greener ICT.

As corporate membership reached record numbers, so did the number of people joining as individuals. Nearly 11,000 people have now joined CSCI by “taking the pledge” to use PC power management at home and at work, and to purchase computing products — such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and servers — that meet CSCI’s specifications for energy efficiency. In conjunction with record membership growth, we also launched the new CSCI website that hosts our blog and is loaded with resources for quickly learning about power management and the environmental and financial benefits of energy efficient computing.

The website also showcases the first four roundtable events we held this year. Launched by our Power Management Workgroup, the roundtables focused on the harmonization of software and power management, and power management from the CFO, bill-payer and bottom-line perspectives. And as global economic uncertainly continues, the bottom-line story remains front-and-center. This is why our new website also highlights how CSCI members – through the use of power management and the deployment of sustainable ICT – have already helped save the global IT industry well over $2 billion in annual energy costs.

With continuous membership growth, the release of a steady stream of new programs and strong bottom-line proof points, many of our members believe we deserve an “A” for our leadership in driving the adoption of power management and more energy efficient computing. But what about our goal of reducing 54 million metric tons of emissions produced by computing equipment by July of this year, the goal we established when CSCI was launched back in 2007?

Well, we’re getting there. And while we haven’t hit the target yet, we were proud to announce during the meeting that based on the collaborative work of our members and partners we’ve reduced emissions from computing equipment by 41 – 45 million metric tons per year. And while there are several factors that came into play to calculate emissions reduction, without question the economic downturn has dramatically slowed the replacing of older PCs for more energy efficient models. Equally as important, the adoption of power management at the widest possible scale has been slower than we anticipated back in 2007. For these reasons, many of our members agree that we get a grade of “B” in this area.

So how do we get an “A” next year? Well, we’re doubling down on our global efforts to communicate the benefits of PC power management, one of which is how using power management on just one computer can save up to $60 a year in energy costs. And we’ll be looking to host more power management roundtables in 2012 where attendees are often surprised at the cost savings that can be realized when power management is used on hundreds or thousands of computers across an organization. And on the networking front, our Networking Workgroup is moving full speed ahead to release its third white paper in a three-part series and designed to help every organization build, specify and manage networks that are optimized for energy efficiency.

With these and other tactics in hand, we’re betting on straight “A’s” at next year’s member’s meeting. Here’s hoping you’ll join us in the fight to reduce emissions and the energy consumption of computing by turning your PC power management on, taking the pledge to use power management and purchase energy efficient computing products, or joining us at the Affiliate or Associate levels. Together we can be sure of a greener and more sustainable 2012.

About the author – George O. Goodman is the Executive Director of Climate Savers Computing Initiative. Follow and interact with Goodman on Twitter at @gogoodman.