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Google Backs Green Computing, too

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While Google’s recent eco kick has largely focused on issues like installing solar panels for its offices and offering biodiesel commuter shuttles to its employees, the search company just joined a broader green push with members of the computing industry. At Google HQ Tuesday morning,
Google, along with Intel and a dozen or so tech companies announced an initiative to drive more energy efficient computing.

It’s partly a ‘look at how green we are’ PR move, but if the plan can save as much energy and reduce as much green house gas emissions as the companies are suggesting — 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions cut per year, and a savings of $5.5 billion in energy costs — well, then we’re all for that. Google co-founder Larry Page made a quick appearance to push the plan, saying “this could really help the world.”

The purpose of the effort, called the Climate Savers Computing Initiative is to drive more energy-efficient computers, servers and power-saving software into the market, at a large enough volume to bring down the extra cost of the added technology. Intel’s Pat Gelsinger put the added cost of energy efficient technology at an additional $20 for desktop computers and $30 for a server cost increments, but said through scale and standardization they expect that cost to drop to zero over the next few years.

Energy usage in data centers has been soaring and companies have started to work on energy efficiency both as a green initiative and a cost cutting measure. Though, we’ll see if consumers are willing to stomache the original added cost for personal computers.

The group set a 90% efficiency target for its computing products, which is in contrast to the average desktop computer that wastes half of its energy, and servers that waste a third, according to Google’s Senior VP of Operations Urs Holzle.

Google’s focus on the broader industry’s green computing problem brings up the question of Google’s own carbon footprint and energy usage, which is largely generated by its massive data centers.

Google’s Energy Strategy Engineer Bill Weihl told us after the conference that the company is actively trying to make its data centers more energy efficient and is also looking at renewable energy options like solar thermal, wind and geothermal for its data centers. While Google wouldn’t disclose its carbon footprint to the audience, Weihl said the company had already had its footprint verified by a third party company and is actively working on reducing it.

12 Responses to “Google Backs Green Computing, too”

  1. I think this is a very good move by Google and can only be positive for the environment. If all the larger companies out there followed suit then those working for ‘Green’ companies will also learn to be ‘Green’ outside of the workplace. If everyone does their bit, no matter how little we can all look positively to the future.

  2. I’m glad to see that Google, Intel, and the rest of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative are beginning to do something about this. But some American cities, such as Boston, have already beat them to it.

    Thanks to the recent efforts of Boston’s current administration, Boston is now on the cutting edge of environmentally-friendly technology, setting a national example for early adoption of bold new environmental trends.

    Most recently, in February of 2007, the city installed Verdiem’s surveyor software on all PCs at Boston City Hill, and it has already reduced PC energy use by an average of 44 per cent. It is saving an average of 180 kWh of electricity or about $25 per PC annually through centrally managing the sleep, shut down and wake cycles. Essentially, this program simply places the PCs into lower power settings when they’re not in use, like when you go to lunch, a meeting or even home for the evening. Based on its existing customer base, annual use of Verdiem technology reduces greenhouse gas emissions at a rate equal to taking more than 8,000 passenger cars off the road for an entire year, or conserving 4,317,988 gallons of gasoline.

    Bill Oates, Boston’s CIO, said the software only cost the city $25 for each PC licence, and based on projections, it will save the city $25 per PC annually. ‘So we believe that after the first year we will have covered the cost of the licence,’ Oates said. After that, ‘we’ll save about $30,000 annually.’

    Taken from: Green Your Network Blog

  3. I was just about to make a similar comment Wai Yip. Perhaps it’s a generational thing? The old vanguard of the automobile industry just can’t seem to reconcile industry and environment. They don’t seem to understand that profits today incur a huge cost on tomorrow. And maybe if they made moves on their own to be cleaner, the gov’t wouldn’t have to bring the regulatory whip to bear.