Environmental sustainability and IT


A number of articles caught my eye recently about the double edge sword that is environmental sustainability and IT.

Firstly for the good news – there is a huge amount that we in the IT industry can do to help.  Everything from advanced power settings in Vista, virtualization for consolidating servers to using Communications Server to reduce travel and hold meetings virtually.  To that end there is an academy live session on how our IT organization, MSIT is approaching environmental sustainability covering the following areas (registration details at the end of this post):

• MSIT approach and organization to environmental sustainability
• MSIT overall environmental sustainability goals
• MSIT current commitments in the environmental sustainability space. MSIT has identified key initiatives that it is committed to focusing on this year. The initiatives include: lab consolidation, virtualization, client power settings, collaboration services, MSIT data center efficiencies, and many more.

On the flip side IT is also a massive consumer of electricity.  One statistic that has been around for a while now is that an ‘virtual person’ in Second Life uses about the same power as a ‘real person’ in Brazil.  As Nicholas Carr puts it – “Avatars aren’t quite intangible as they seem.  They don't have bodies but they do leave footprints”.  More recently a Sunday Times report that a Harvard researcher has released a study that concludes:

“performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea." According to the research, "a typical search generates about 7g of CO2" while "boiling a kettle generates about 15g."

This has already been hotly contested by Google who put forwards far lower figures.

I am glad to see that the big IT players are taking responsibility when it comes to their environmental credentials – whether that is in the building of their data centers or the designing of hardware or software.  Although IT is a big user of power, and in the future will  consume a greater percentage we need to ensure that it is being done in the most efficient way and is replacing older techniques that had a higher environmental cost.

Some other good resources are:



Academy Live: Sustainable IT- A Microsoft Case Study

Register here: 

Before the Webcast:
To attend our upcoming Webcast you will need:
1.    A computer with access to the Internet to view the visual portion of the event.
2.    A functioning sound card and speakers or headphones for your PC.
3.    Windows Media Player 9 (WMP 9).
4.    A compatible computer configuration.  Verify Microsoft Live Meeting 2007 System Requirements
5.    Use the Microsoft Live Meeting 2007 Windows Console Compatibility Test to join a meeting to see if your computer is compatible with Live Meeting 2007.

During the Webcast- Join the Webcast by clicking the link below:

•    Webcast Link:  https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/microsoftevents/join?id=ENV04PAL&role=attend&pw=QWI222
•    Passcode:   QWI222
•    Telephony:   1- (866) 294-0201 or 1-503-295-8000 (International)
•    Pin:  7086