Sunday, 17 June 2012

Is Telecommuting Really Green?

In the last blog-post we covered the advantages and challenges of telecommuting. Today, we will discuss if working from home is really more Earth-friendly. 
Even though how much carbon dioxide you save from working at home depends on how far you live from work, how you get there and the climate you live in, among other factors, there are some researches that by making some assumptions found out very interesting results.

According to Slate, a daily magazine on the Web, an average employee working from home instead of driving to the office saves approximately 4,900 pounds of CO2 each year. However, because people tend to do extra things when working from home, such as running household appliances, taking trips to the grocery store and watching TV, telecommuters tend to break even. (1) 

Another research confirmed the same theory (2). 
  • The American Community Survey concluded that 86% of the nation's workers drive to work, which ends up producing 20.9 pounds of CO2 per day. Due to the fact that average employee works 235 days per year, the annual output of his commute is 4,890 pounds of CO2. 
  • This survey states that the workplace is a more energy-efficient work environment than the average American home. First, because less air has to be heated or cooled. Second, office workers share certain equipment, like printers and fax machines. At home, you're probably running your own peripherals (4.9 pounds of CO2 per day compared to 0,9 at the office). 
  • In addition, people who work at home tend to do energy-intensive things they probably wouldn't do if working at the office. According to a study Erasmia Kitou and Arpad Horvath at University of California-Berkeley Kitou and Harvath, the carbon emissions associated with these extracurricular is around 6.6 pounds of CO2 per day. 
Although it is difficult to quantify the environmental benefits of telecommuting, other great benefits of working at home, such as employee’s retention and increase productivity, could be taken into consideration when analyzing the consequences of implementing this innovative way of doing business. 


Sunday, 10 June 2012

What are the green benefits and the challenges of telecommuting?

Telecommuting is booming all over the world, especially in India, Mexico, and Indonesia, where over 30% of workers are claimed to telecommute (2). For those that are not so familiar with this concept, “Telecommuting is the act of working from a remote location, usually one's home.” (1) Most telecommuters simply rely on e-mail, printers, fax machine, conference calls and a broadband-connected computer.

The growth of telecommuting can be partially explained by the rapid penetration of Internet, easier and cheaper forms of IP telephone solutions and a new generation of high tech laptops that can easily replace enterprises’ desktops. Another major factor pushing companies to implement this initiative is the pressure for cost reduction, which has forced enterprises to think about alternative solutions to improve their way of doing business. In this context, telecommuting is helping organizations to reduce their operational costs by decreasing communications costs and the amount of office space and services provided to their employees. 

Moreover, many researches have shown that from a business perspective, the implementation of telecommuting has tremendous impact in terms of increased productivity.

  • A research of over 11,000 workers worldwide by Ipsos and Reuters showed that 65% of those polled felt that telecommuting allowed them to be more productive because they have more control over their work life. (2) 
  • Telecommuters at American Express are reckoned to generate over 40% more business than their office-bound colleagues. British Telecom’s 9,000 teleworkers are apparently 30% more productive than their office counterparts. (4) 
  • Cisco recently surveyed 1,992 employees who telecommuted an average of two days per week and 69% of them cited productivity increases, and 80% said the quality of their work improved from home. (3)
From the employee perspective, there are also several personal benefits of being a telecommuter, such as: flexible working hours and less time spent on the way to work. Therefore, if you're self-motivated and disciplined, work well independently and do not need constant supervision, you're a good candidate for telecommuting.  

However, it is not all about good news. There are some challengers that need to be addressed. One of them is the feeling of isolation, telecommuting can be rather lonely.  A research made by Ipsos and Reuters showed that 62% of those polled “socially isolating” as a difficulty. (2)
Finally, we wonder if the introduction of telecommuting programs also results in a carbon footprint reduction. In other words, is there a green benefit - a measurable impact on environment? (This subject is so important that in order to address it, the next post will be entirely devoted to this theme.)
In sum, the most important takeaway is that telecommuting is a trend and is going to grow even faster in the next years. However, Companies have to be smart enough to analyze what type of employees ate interested in working like this and for how long. Some people enjoy the possibility of working one or two days from home, but not more than that. Finally, in order to overcome some of the most common problems, Companies should try to manage the amount of time coworkers telecommute and, above all, encourage face-to-face interactions.


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Heard of Keflavik, Iceland??

In the last two blog-posts we covered the importance of designing a green data center and how reduced power consumption can help you save money and go green at the same time.

One of the best and most effective ways of doing this is by co-locating [1] your data centers with other business in places where you can achieve both of these objectives. If your business allows moving applications and infrastructure off-premise, co-location is the best move forward.

The biggest advantage other than using renewable energy is the aspect of free cooling.[A]

Bloomberg has uncovered a few important locations which serve this purpose:

In Keflavik, Iceland; A former NATO air base as been converted into a new $700 million data center. Tapping into a ready supply of geothermal energy and cool temperatures, Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson, a former banker and the country’s first billionaire, is trying to capture a slice of a rapidly growing market: green data centers by creating the Thor data center. 

Investment in energy efficient server farms will climb to $41 billion by 2015, according to Pike Research. “Iceland happens to be a rare spot on the earth where there is a convergence of attributes that tick all the boxes,” says Jeff Monroe, chief executive officer of Verne Global, Björgólfsson’s venture. “You have 100 percent renewable energy. We can do 100 percent free cooling.”[2]

The Nordic region has becomes very attractive for large organizations to have their Data Centers located in this region. Google has its presence already in Finland. Facebook is following suit with its data centers in Sweden. Microsoft is exploring opportunities in Iceland.

How does Iceland Do It?

Iceland provides free cooling to data centers by using so- called "heat wheels," which funnel hot air out and cool air in. The volcanic island's power is provided by renewable energy from hydroelectric and geothermal power plants, with contracts locked in for as long as 20 years, according to Einar Hansen Tomasson, project manager with Invest in Iceland Agency, which is promoting the island.

Iceland is the only country in the world which can boast 100% renewable electricity, a fact that it is trying to exploit in attempts to attract foreign investment to help boost its economy which is still recovering from the collapse of its banks in 2008.
This is not the first time that Icelanders have tried to entice foreign business, but it has previously had little success with diversifying away from its three main industries of fishing, aluminium, and tourism; hopefully its hydro and geothermal power plants will prove to be sufficiently tempting.
Hordur Arnarson, CEO of the state owned utility Landsvirkjun, has said that the price of the electricity is also very appealing to investors, calling it “the most competitive price in Europe.” Investors have the opportunity in their contracts to lock the favourable rates for a dozen years or more, very appealing with the current price volatility, and the uncertainty of future prices.[3]

Most Nordi countries also have a strong reliance on renewable energy and hence, green data centers are the next change agent for these regions. 

Google in Belgium & Finland:

See a short video showing how Google uses Free Cooling:


Sunday, 27 May 2012


The answer to this question is A LOT!  Take a look at some interesting facts:
    -  1000 computer desktops use 880 barrels of oil of 43,180 gallons of gasoline in one year (1)
    -  Energy cost of 1000 desktops powered is equal to $90,000 (1)
    -  Data centers can consume up to 100 to 200 more energy than regular office buildings (2)

The good news is that there are ways to help you reduce energy consumption and costs.
-          Adjust desktop power mode - Power-saving, hibernating, sleep-mode, power-off
o   Each of these modes require different amount of watts and therefore can be used to adequately monitor power consumption.

-          IT infrastructure consolidation
o   Companies can efficiently use their resources by reducing the number of servers, computer and server rooms. This can contribute to reduce their operating costs and save specialized power and cooling systems required for these types of room. (3)
o   Companies can also consolidate data centers and finding efficient power supply. There are some high quality components and advanced engineering that will allow improving the power supply converted between AC and DC power. (2)
However, it is important to recognize that there are several risks involved in not properly managing energy consumption. Reducing energy consumption must be done cautiously to ensure that costs can be reduced without hindering a company’s systems operations. For example, many companies’ IT departments take advantage of computer downtimes to perform system upgrades and patches. This is why it is key to understand the difference between power-off, hibernating, standby and power-saving mode. Additionally, the difficulty lies is designing energy saving strategies without having statistics on metrics such as time computers have been on and consumption per computer.

Given the importance and difficulty in efficiently reducing power consumption, we have identified two companies that can help mitigate these risks and can offer solutions to energy consumption. We invite you to take a look at these companies:


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Why is Data Center Design Important for Going Green?

Data Center Design
The need for data servers is constantly growing. Take for example Facebook or Google and try to visualise the size and the number of data centers that these companies need to run their daily activities and to process the amount of information available on their webpages.

The phenomenon is huge and the implications on the environment are considerable due to the important use of resources (energy and water). To give you a rough idea, in 2007 the entire information and communication technology sector represents approximately 2% of the global greenhouse gas emission, about 14% of this amount was due to data centers[1]. Optimizing the resources consumption is not only important from an environmental perspective, it can also enable savings of millions of dollars at a global scale.

In the following few paragraphs will give you  a brief introduction to data center design by going through the Google data center best practices[2]:

1)    Measure PUE
The first important point is to have the required instruments to measure the Power Usage Efficiency (“PUE”) equivalent to the Total Facility Energy divided by the IT Equipment Energy.

PUE    =          Total Facility Energy
                                    IT Equipment Energy

This figure measures the effectiveness of the delivery of power in cooling to the IT equipment. It is important to measure this ratio to be able to keep track on the level of efficiency of the power used. The closer this number gets to 1.00, the better.

2)    Manage Air Flow
To properly manage the air flow in your data center, you will have to elimitate the mixing of hot and cold air flows. There are several ways to achieve such a containment, but it is paramount to first analyse and understand how the air flows between the data servers. Google has been able to save USD 65’000 in energy costs yearly by investing USD 25’000 (one time investment) in components enabling such a containment of the air flows.

3)    Adjust Thermostat
To the contrary of what has been believed for long by data center managers, Google raises the temperature of the cold aisle which results in a reduction of the facility energy use.

4)    Use Free Cooling
It is recommended to use the “free cooling” available from lower ambient temperatures outside of the data center to avoid the requirement of energy intensive cooling systems. For example, Google uses see water cooling in Finland where the water comes from the nearby bay.

5)    Optimize Power Distribution
Losses occur in the power distribution at each step of the a power conversion. If you eliminate a power conversion step, you spare energy. Google has achieve this by reducing the steps at the level of the Uninterruptible Power Supply (“UPS”) which is the system enabling the servers to continue to run in case of electricity interruption. By putting batteries directly into the servers, it reduces three steps of unnecessary power conversions. With this method, Google saves USD 30 per year and per sever!

We are thrilled to follow the evolution and see when Google will achieve a PUE of 1.00!

See how Google follows these PUE measurements:

[1] GeSi Smart 2020 report, p. 02/17 and 02/18, 
[2] For a more detailed overview, please see: 

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Focus on Object Innovation rather than Idea Innovation for Product Longevity

What is it Product Longevity?
Have you ever heard about this term before? Well maybe not the term, but the wording translates the meaning.  Product Longevity in human language simply means the expected live cycle of a product.   “The biggest contribution to green computing today would be to extend the product lifetime. Product longevity is an important tool to maximize energy-efficiency enabling upgradability and modularity of products. This helps to balance the ecological footprint rather than manufacturing and replacing products to meet current needs [3].  Life cycle analysis is an examination of all the energy and resources used in a product. So this analysis route us to a problem; we are running on an enormous ecological deficit, and our problems have to be solved by developing existing society further.[1]

Furthermore, computers can run smoothly for a timespan of over 10 years, however, companies renewed every 3 to 4 years. The essential issue of our main topic ‘Green IT’ is why do we need to change our computers too often?  The answer is simple, it’s because every year, new software versions appear and require more resources (memory, processor, disk, graphics card, etc.) from our products to perform the same tasks.[2]

Product longevity helps to ensure an intelligent utilization of resources in the manufacturing of products and solutions. It plays a major role in the stages of the product life.  It starts from the design to the end of the life of the product. The longer a product is in use, the fewer the numbers of that particular product that need to be created as well as disposed of [3].

Therefore, in order to solve this problem of product ‘shortavity’ we have to maximize ecological efficiency and thus will minimize our expenses. However, this will only happen if our products are designed from the start to be eco-friendly.  The strategy for that is to design for longevity and not for disposal.  When designing for longevity we have to consider the following: [1]

- Timeless, classical design
- Long lifespan 
- Durability
- Designed for modularity
- Designed for ease of repair and maintenance
- Possibilities for re-use
- Possibilities to upgrade with new technology

However, if you find that a product has the following features;

- Fashionable design
- Designed for take back
- Designed for recycling
- Designed for eco-friendly disposal

Then keep in mind that this product is designed for disposal!  

New technologies, new user needs, new markets and new business models, then we end up with new opportunities for longer life products.

I would like to share the following Q&A that I found on which basically summarizes this post: 

Question: What is the impact of product longevity?
Answer: Lighting products are sometimes disposed of as waste because they have lost output and become too expensive to maintain. This is often because they were never designed to be upgraded, or sometimes even repaired, after installation. This situation is a cause of unnecessary waste as 90% of the fitting may still be fit for purpose, but one element has degraded or failed. In contrast light fittings designed with easily replaceable elements can be upgraded in the future and will minimize future waste flows.  


Sunday, 6 May 2012

More Reasons For Performing Those Software Updates!

Don't you get frustrated when each and every single application on your PC (& MAC), Server, Printer.. (the list goes on!) asks you to update the software every other day because they have some bugs fixed?

Well, apart from the reason that doing this will keep your systems secure, there is another important reason emerging to the forefront to ensure you do these updates, which is to save power! Yes, you read it right; SOFTWARE UPDATES CAN SAVE POWER and help you contribute to the green IT revolution! 

We talk about Software & Deployment Optimization, list some use cases and show how small things that you can do can save planet Earth!

Consoles & Devices:

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council ( NRDC ), the United States from 60 to 100 million video game consoles that fit 40% of American homes, about half of users leave their consoles on 24 hours on 24, is an annual consumption of about 16 million MWh (16 TWh).

In the latest edition of the journal Energy Efficiency, a study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University believes that a software update of these consoles would save 9.3 TWh per year, or 1% of household electricity consumption in North America!

Software Updates on Video Games
Consoles can save 1% of North
America's Power Consumption!

According to the authors, 68% of electricity is consumed during the phases where the console is not used. A function of auto power exists yet on most of gaming console, but rarely enabled by default by the manufacturers (except for the latest version of the Xbox). However, a single PS3 consumes as much as 5 fridges ! It would therefore suffice to patch the firmware of the 30% of consoles that are never switched off to achieve significant energy savings. [1]

Complex Software Code leads to Algorithmic Inefficiency:

Take the example of the world's most prolific software maker - Microsoft:

Studies done by have shown that Windows 7 + Office 2010 Pro requires 15 times more processing power, 71 times more memory and 47 times more disk space than the couple Windows 98 + Office 97.

Is this inflation justified? We do not write 15 times faster than what we did with Windows 7 with Windows 2000. And Office 2010 or Office 2000 are office suites. Nothing more.

Hence we raise these two questions:
1) What are the key new features enough to justify such inflation?
2) How to impose a regime to software vendors (because virtualization is just deport the problem server side)? [2]

Intelligent Resource Allocation:

Conventional resource and server allocation is decided using the most available system, that is, a zero-intelligence system. Often this approach does not provide the most energy efficient way of computing.

A new invention provides a mechanism for dynamic resource allocation that maximises performance with minimum total energy consumption. The technology allocates tasks to the most energy efficient servers, thus allowing idle nodes to go on standby. 
A Smart & Green way of routing traffic!
Experimental results (see figure on the left) have shown that using this technology an energy reduction of up to a 45% can be realised, compared with the zero-intelligence approach. [3]


Virtualization has single handedly taken the IT Industry to a whole new level of energy efficiency!

Consolidate servers: 

Reduces the number of servers by a ratio of 15:1, eliminating server sprawl and cutting maintenance costs.

Reduce energy consumption:

Every server virtualized saves 7000kWh of electricity annually, or about $700 in energy costs.

Increase IT capacity:

Improves server utilization rates from 5-15% to 60-80%. Running fewer, highly utilized servers frees up space and power.

Reduce CO2 emissions:

4 tons of CO2 are eliminated for every server virtualized, the equivalent to taking 1.5 cars off the highway.

Click Here to download Gartner Reports, Case Studies & Demos of how virtualization can contribute to enhancing your contribution to a greener planet. (Provided by vmware) [4]

Also Watch the Impact of Software Development on Energy in the Videos Page...