Cutting the carbon footprint of IT

Cutting the carbon footprint of IT
How to deliver measurable savings –
an IBM study with the support of Defra
Section 1 – Foreword
Page 3
Assessing and reducing carbon footprint and financial
waste – a fresh, best-practice, fact-based approach.
Section 2 – A strategy for change
Page 6
The Green Transformational Programme and business
value; changing the way we work; people, processes,
and infrastructure.
Section 3 – Measuring and improving the carbon footprint
Page 12
Saving power, saving money; measuring output and
the faceplate trap; doing the sums – a clear approach
to power measurement and prediction; architectural
patterns and energy efficiency ratings; the IT landscape –
availability, survivability, and compliance; financial
considerations – carbon charge-back; upstream,
downstream, and recycling.
Section 4 – And from here… Protecting assets through environmental, social and
ethical risk assessment; good behaviour is good business.
Page 21
Section 1 – Foreword
“I believe that the CIO of
any organisation has a duty
to ensure that distributed
IT systems and services
are as energy efficient as
possible. This is never easy.
Based on an in-depth study,
the tools and methods
this paper proposes have
the potential to help by
providing CIOs with a good
starting point to develop
and deliver an effective
energy efficiency strategy.”
Chris Chant, CIO,
Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
Energy efficiency is an increasingly important part of business efficiency.
One of the biggest challenges facing a modern organisation is how to
leverage the immense benefits of effective IT systems while keeping their
energy consumption to a minimum.
Experience shows that wasted energy
The IBM team developed its method
can cost tens of millions of pounds:
for determining the carbon footprint by
environmental awareness goes with
studying information, computer, and
a keen eye for the bottom line.
workplace technologies. It analysed
Combined with the financial impact
in detail the way work patterns were
of energy efficiency, in the current
affected by IT, to produce a detailed
political climate, the responsible use
and effective solution which can readily
of energy has serious implications for
be applied to both public and private
an organisation’s public image.
sector organisations.
This paper explores how an
The search for efficiency
organisation can sustainably reduce
Ecological responsibility and business
its carbon footprint and its costs at the
responsibility are two sides of the same
same time. It is a practical study,
coin. Both reject waste and profligacy;
drawn from real examples and actual
both embrace the notion of responsible
observations, and is amongst the
stewardship and investment of assets
most detailed investigation into the
in order to reap greater returns in the
management of workplace IT systems
long term, and whilst there’s no
ever undertaken. It is presented in
question that environmental and
order that public sector organisations
economic concerns frequently clash,
and businesses alike can share and
innovation can advance both agendas
use this best-practice, fact-based
at the same time.
method to assess and reduce both
carbon footprint and financial waste.
Businesses are already looking at
ways to cut waste in their data centres,
IBM’s UK and Ireland Technical
but there has been little examination
Consultancy Group (TCG) would
of the electrical consumption and
like to thank the Department for
carbon footprint of the distributed IT
Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs
systems and services environment,
(Defra) for their support, insights
and how organisations could bring
and in providing access to data
about sustainable improvements.
and Defra sites.
“There is a clear business
necessity to reduce carbon
emissions and through
technology and our ability
to innovate, we can
achieve this. I am excited
by this work which presents
organisations with a practical
opportunity to help reduce
waste and to extend today’s
finite energy resources.”
Larry Hirst, General Manager,
However, this is where organisations
Leading the way…
with large distributed infrastructures
Seeking a more energy efficient
(geographically dispersed offices for
workplace is a win-win proposition
fixed location workers or a base for
that can reduce costs and reduce
a mobile workforce) need to look for
environmental damage as well.
ways to reduce their carbon emissions
– not just in offices, but wherever
Some of the most innovative and
people work. For a modern workforce,
promising ideas for reducing waste
this can mean at home, in hotels, or
and managing natural resources come
even in the car or on a train – wherever
from the business community. This
workplace equipment draws energy
paper suggests how those good
or uses resources.
ideas can be applied in practice.
By considering the environmental
In this paper, we go beyond traditional
impact of their endeavours and
IT items such as PC, data server and
adopting clean technologies and
file and printer server to consider
environmentally sound practices,
additional items such as photo
businesses can save money and
copiers, fax machines, power packs
reduce their impact on the planet.
for mobile devices, air conditioning
units and communications equipment
Drivers for this new behaviour include:
such as hubs and routers. Many
of these devices use more energy
• Government climate change
than people expect, and use it in
directives – the Climate Change
unexpected ways – it’s not just how
Bill, for example, aims to set in law
long they are switched on, but the
a target to reduce greenhouse
way in which people use them.
gas emissions by 60% by 2050
• Consumers increasingly desire
Establishing how energy-hungry
they are, and how their appetite can
be reduced without affecting their
performance, makes both ecological
‘green’ products
• Organisations’ corporate social
responsibility objectives
• New opportunities for improved
and business sense. In wasting energy
resource management, financial
inefficient equipment and inefficient
savings and other indirect paybacks
ways of working are wasting money –
– for example, IBM has saved more
significant amounts of it.
than $100 million since 1998 by
conserving energy.
A few figures
• Combined emissions from
PCs, servers, cooling, local
area networks, telephones
and mobiles total 2% of
global carbon emissions –
the same as aviation
(Source: Gartner)
• One tonne of CO2 = 509 cubic
metres, enough gas to fill almost
six double decker buses
• The UK’s annual 559 million
tonnes output of CO2 would
cover the City of London to a
depth of nearly 2.5 kilometres
• For every person in the UK
Companies now compete in an
These are not just matters for the
9.3 tonnes of CO2 is produced
increasingly ‘green’ market,
traditional power hungry manufacturing
annually – enough to fill
and therefore need to position
industries. They are important for all
nearly two Olympic sized
themselves appropriately.
organisations running significant
IT infrastructures.
swimming pools.
(Source: Energy Saving Trust)
These issues are important today,
and they will be still more important
Through this study, we have
tomorrow. Energy prices are rising,
developed a programme for change
and clients are reporting that energy
– a way in which organisations can
supplies are now under stress.
meet these challenges. In Section 2,
Carbon taxes are on the political
we outline a strategy by which
agenda: businesses increasingly
carbon impact and financial waste
need to demonstrate environmental
can be reduced, and in Section 3
responsibility, both to fulfil their legal
we set out a method of determining
and social obligations, and to ‘enhance
the actual carbon footprint of the
the brand’ and corporate image. CEOs
distributed office environment, and
are concerned about corporate image,
measuring the actual savings made
CFOs about the cost of energy, and
through various reduction methods.
CIOs about the environmental impact
of IT systems.
Section 2 – A strategy for change
So what is the strategy for achieving
Step 1 – strategy workshop
Step 2 – planning workshop
environmental change?
• Agree the organisational scope
• Using the component map,
of the study, for example line
agree where IT effort and
of business department,
spend is being directed
How can an organisation start the
process of green transformation and
achieve the resulting benefits of
or a geographical area
• Agree which components are
• Agree the boundary to be
core, critical, differentiating
efficiency and cost savings? What
investigated; the upstream
is the method that a project team
and downstream parameters
could follow? The study team has
• Agree the scope of technology
and non-essential to IT
• Correlate the component map
to the organisational target
developed a Green Transformational
process and the extent
Programme (GTP) which is the first
of people’s behaviour to
carbon charge-back model and
step in the strategy for change.
be investigated.
maturity level of implementation
• Baseline build model and
It shows how environmental
report through a programme
awareness can be converted
into real business value.
• Consider whether to adopt
The diagram on page 7 shows 17
of continuous improvement.
‘green’ components which might be
At the start of the programme,
considered in a typical organisation.
members of the organisation’s
Other organisations will have different
By considering each individual
nominated leadership team –
examples, but a similar component
business area – the green areas on
including those tasked with Corporate
map structure will help to identify the
the map – and comparing the amount
Social Responsibility – gather in a
individual components so that the
of energy committed to it with the
workshop to identify and prioritise
leadership team can focus on them
benefit it provides to the organisation’s
areas where improvements and
as the most profitable areas to achieve
operations, it will be possible to
innovations can be made.
carbon improvements.
highlight areas where energy savings
could be made to the greatest
The expertise, information and
possible advantage.
techniques described later in this
paper will help to inform the discussion.
The potential solutions that the team
Decisions on the strategic importance
identify can then be prioritised,
and performance of the various
analysed for impact, and integrated
components however, come from the
into an overall action plan. By the end
workshop participants themselves.
of the workshop, the team will have
Since the entire IT leadership
set out priorities for reform that can
participates, the conclusions they
be understood and embraced by the
reach will have wide acceptance
organisation’s whole leadership team.
within the organisation.
However, the GTP is a positive
measurable, and so the team’s
devices, but reduced travel, reduced
source of business benefits rather
proposals need to be tested by looking
wastage, and increased recycling
than a support function. Deciding
at working patterns and taking actual
also need to be considered. These
on these potential areas for change
measurements of energy usage in the
factors may all form part of the final
is only the first step in the process.
specific areas they have selected.
technique for measuring the success
The aim is to produce savings in
of the new green strategy which will
energy consumption and spending
Savings in power use can be measured
emerge from the priorities drawn up
that are clear, identifiable, and
from electricity meters and individual
in the workshop.
Component business map for the business of running IT
Plan and manage
IT customer
service and
IT business
and knowledge
and value
IT services
and solution
IT financial
and development
and contract
Integrated risk
IT support
Services and
Services and
Data and content
and solution
capture and
Service and
delivery and
Communications Human resources
privacy and data
and solution
risk strategy
and solution
Support services
When is workplace
transformation considered?
Changing the way we work
Is it being used at home? In the office?
In drawing up a strategy, the team
During peak hours? All these factors
will have to look at the way the
affect the amount of electricity and
Workplace transformation is
organisation works – at its employees,
other resources consumed, and the
typically considered:
its premises, and how office and
consequential carbon output.
• To reinforce a culture change
workplace equipment is used.
Organisations have to consider ‘smart
• To support a business process
It is people who determine how much
working’ – satellite offices or working
transformation programme
power an item of equipment uses, and
from home, for instance – and shared
how big its carbon footprint is. It’s not
services, and how they will affect
just how they use it – whether they use
the carbon footprint. As we shall see,
equipment in active or standby mode,
the calculations can be complicated.
• To anticipate the growth or
contraction of the organisation
• To introduce non-territorial
• When real estate is old and due
for significant refurbishment
or whether they turn it off when it is not
in use – it’s also where and when they
What is needed to minimise energy
use it.
use, save costs, and reduce the
• To reduce property costs.
impact on the environment is nothing
less than the transformation of each
and every work space.
Strategic scope
•Performance measures
•Management practices
Business strategy
•Core business processes
•Support processes
•Physical environment
•Virtual environment
The environmental strategy, like the
For example, the provision of a
business strategy, involves people,
video-conference room, will encourage
• Screen savers. A PC may use
60W when running a screen saver
processes and infrastructure. There
more ‘virtual’ meetings, cutting the
programme, compared to 40W
needs to be change in all three areas
carbon cost of unnecessary travel.
when the normal Windows desktop
is displayed, and just 1-2W in
to bring about green improvements.
There also needs to be a feedback
hibernate mode.
Changing habits
mechanism so that users can see
If it is people who are largely
how they are performing against their
home. Many PCs are left on after
responsible for the way that energy
targets. This could be built in to any
the users have left the office. Even
is used – or wasted – in the working
metering system.
in hibernate mode a PC will draw
• The lights are on but no-one’s at
some power, especially if any of the
environment, it follows that one of
the biggest challenges is to change
Of course, employees have a part to
attached devices, such as an optical
the way that people work. However,
play too. As part of this organisation-
mouse, have LEDs. Office-bay
organisations can encourage and
wide drive to meet carbon targets,
printers are left switched on when
facilitate change by providing a
they need to change the way they
the bay is unoccupied.
suitable IT infrastructure.
use devices.
One option is to treat carbon
Despite recent improvements, on the
usage in the same way that financial
whole office equipment is still not
expenditure is often treated – that is,
designed for energy efficiency. The
photocopiers may be left on
to allocate CO2 targets to department
chip architecture of desktops, for
when only one is needed.
heads, with rewards for underspending
instance, has been described as
and corresponding charges for over-
similar to driving a car by putting
use. Such a policy will encourage
your foot hard on the accelerator
senior staff to pay greater attention
and lifting the clutch to control the
to energy consumption and they can
forward speed. But the way devices
then spread this attitude through their
are used can have a big effect on
departments by making energy efficient
overall energy consumption.
• Press the button. At many desks
power blocks are left on when they
working easier and more convenient.
have an obvious on/off switch.
• Over-provision. Multiple
Real estate gains
This is a significant cultural change for
IT provision is always an important
The most effective way of using real
an organisation and the impact on staff
element of a workplace transformation
estate to reduce the carbon footprint
should not be underestimated – but if
project. End users need confidence
is to concentrate the workforce and
the whole programme is carried out
that they will have the IT they need to
operations into the minimum amount
alongside the installation of more
be able to do their work properly, and
of space they need to do their work
energy efficient IT and support
organisations have to consider the
efficiently and effectively. Every
equipment, it can generate significant
overall cost of provision.
square metre of space saved
financial and environmental benefits.
With shared desks, for instance, there
reduces the environmental impact
of the organisation. However, this has
Optimising real estate and IT devices
is always a decision to be made
to be carefully balanced against the
at the same time offers real reductions
between the provision of a desktop
operational delivery model adopted
in the carbon footprint. For real estate
machine like the one a fixed worker
by the organisation concerned.
the most effective way of achieving
might have, a docking station for a
gains is to concentrate operations
laptop, or the more flexible but more
Saving space – assuming the building
into a smaller space; for workplace
expensive option of combining both.
itself is already efficient – means
devices, radical rethinking of the
Experience now reveals that the
working flexibly by sharing desks,
standard operating and support
docking station solution frequently
centralising print hubs, introducing
environment will drive out
results in the provision of several
bookable formal meeting space and
electrical inefficiencies.
different stations to accommodate
free-access informal space, and
different laptops. The default solution
providing the IT infrastructure to
is to provide a thin client computer
make home working attractive.
on the desk, so that laptop users
can plug into Ethernet links, keyboard
and screens as appropriate.
Cultural change is vital to achieving
transformation success and can only
be achieved by working with staff
and ensuring they feel involved in
the process. The new systems and
workplace have to address their
needs. The diagram below illustrates
a commonly used approach.
The overall picture
These calculations are complex, and
It enables an organisation not only to
Most important, however, is
IBM believes no-one has looked at
save energy, but to know how much
reaching a view of the overall energy
them in detail before – but making
energy has been saved – and also
consumption of the workplace
them accurately is an essential part
to see how those savings can be
environment. This involves looking
of devising an effective strategy.
reflected in improved profitability.
Through measurement of these
beyond the energy consumed by the
office equipment itself, and to the
The rest of this paper concentrates
savings, any organisation can easily
energy consumed in its manufacture,
on ways to do just that. The IBM
see not only the implications for its
as well as what the eventual carbon
study team devised a technique,
corporate social responsibility and its
cost of its disposal will be.
detailed in Section 3, which specifically
public image, but also the impact on
aims to reach an authoritative view
its bottom line.
of how much energy is consumed,
and how savings can be made.
Cultural transformation roadmap
Start-up phase
Implementation phase
Implementation best practices
Post occupancy surveys
Benefits, identification and analysis
Benefits tracking
Workshop feedback
Occupancy tracking
Lessons learnt
Maturity profiling
Risk and issue management
Policies and principles
Interdependency management
Systems gap analysis and design
Knowledge sharing workshop
System implementation
Programme management tools
Section 3 – Measuring and improving
the carbon footprint
Saving power, saving money
But any energy-saving programme
The results of the research proved that
needs to go far beyond these quick,
making some simple improvements
easy, and low cost gains. To achieve
can make an immediate impact. By
sustainable improvements it is
simply switching off equipment at
necessary as a first step to find
the end of the day or when it is not in
ways of measuring how much
use has a significant effect on overall
power is actually being used in
consumption; so does choosing energy
the distributed IT systems.
efficient equipment, such as flat-screen
monitors, which can draw up to
The faceplate trap
55% less power than conventional
To understand how to reduce energy
CRT models.
consumption, it is also necessary to
consider the question “How much
Operating adjustments are also
power do individual devices use?”
important – a reduction of around 10%
and the answers can be surprising.
in screen brightness/contrast might
save 3 watts power consumption
The last few years have seen
without degrading the quality of display.
tremendous improvements in the
power, functionality, and versatility
Up to a third of printers and photo
of office equipment, leading to better
copiers are under-utilised, and
all-round performance whether in
non-critical or sensitive equipment
an office building or out on the
is often kept in air-conditioned
road. Manufacturers are increasingly
rooms unnecessarily.
considering energy efficiency in
the design process in order to gain
For example, Defra has rationalised
competitive advantage, meet new legal
printer provision, with the use of
requirements, and cut energy costs.
multi-function devices and software
Designers of systems which use
to provide automatic switch-offs.
office equipment must now carefully
Such changes, along with PC
consider how best to take advantage
operating systems that manage power
of these advances.
consumption more efficiently, are worth
considering as potential low-cost and
However, despite these advances,
simple ways to reduce expense and
much of the equipment on the market
improve the carbon footprint.
still does not conform to any energy
efficiency standard.
Most equipment will be stamped with
Accurate measurements are possible,
a faceplate detailing some of the
although difficult, to carry out. But the
electrical characteristics of the device.
point is that individual measurements
However, basing an assessment of
are in any case not enough – all they
power consumption and carbon
provide is a snapshot of a single
footprint simply on a reading of the
device. The crucial technique is
wattage rating printed on the faceplate
building on the snapshot to reach a
is not satisfactory.
view of overall consumption across
the IT system.
The study found that more specific
observations were required; simply
Doing the sums
taking the plate wattage rating of
A clear approach to power
the device as a guide to power
measurement and prediction is
consumption and CO2 footprint
needed for an accurate picture of
can be misleading, for example:
how much energy is used by IT
components. There are two key factors
• The plate rating often indicates the
maximum amount drawn – but for
which affect the energy consumption
of any device:
several classes of device, the
actual power varied considerably
from that figure
• Technical specifications often detail
• The actual power consumption
of the specific devices;
• How the devices are used.
the power output, not the power
input, which could be higher.
The ‘plate values’ (maximum power
• A spot reading of the electricity
consumption values) found on most
being drawn by the device will not
devices do not relate directly to the
confirm the amount used over a
actual amount of power they consume
longer period
in everyday use. There does not
• Even when a device is apparently not
appear to be a simple way of
switched on, or a charger is plugged
estimating actual consumption – for
in with no device attached to it, they
example one PC may use 60% of the
can still use electricity.
plate value in ‘normal’ use, while
another may use as little as 5%.
The ideal answer is to take actual
It is not only a matter of what the
In a large organisation which may have
measurements from any devices
power consumption may be when
tens of thousands of people working in
which occur in significant volume.
the machine is in its various modes,
it, it is going to take too long and cost
Since this is impractical, the solution
but also of what proportion of time
too much to gather all the information
is to measure a few, and use them
it spends in each one.
for each device. It is quicker, more
cost-effective, and probably more
as a model from which to estimate
overall consumption.
The way the working environment is
accurate to reach a conclusion based
organised – in the office itself, or
on testing a sample of the equipment.
Doing that, however, is complicated by
among staff who work outside – also
the fact that the way devices are used
affects the amount of power used.
Architectural patterns
will depend on the job they are
For example, does the organisation
Energy efficiency ratings
carrying out, and upon who is using
use centralised network printers,
Householders have long used energy
them. It is not possible to assume that
distributed desktop printers, or both?
efficiency ratings (EERs) to help them
make decisions about what electrical
one device will have the same power
consumption as a precisely similar
A final consideration involves remote
goods to buy for the home. Decisions
device being used elsewhere.
or non-office working. This saves
about IT equipment need to be made
Variables such as how long the
money for an organisation by reducing
in much the same way. In particular,
machine is idle; which hours it is
the amount of space required, and
it would be useful to apply EER
operational; how often the fan is
also creates environmental benefits
assessments to the architectural
running; how often the disk is spinning
such as reducing the number of car
patterns of an IT system – the way that
and what type of printing is being
journeys to work.
hardware and software components
carried out all affect the machines’
are structured, and how each
consumption levels.
component interacts with the others.
Greening the IT landscape
Availability and disaster survivability
We have seen that the usage of a
Traditional means to improve system
device and the operational processes,
availability frequently depend on
to determine the long term energy
practices and procedures operated
standby systems which will take over
costs of running and maintaining
by an organisation will all affect the
in the event of a failure. Frequently
an IT system
carbon footprint of the distributed
these systems are idle or used for
IT infrastructure.
workloads that can be sacrificed if
So what would the benefits be?
• Energy efficiency ratings would help
• They would help to decide the
a failure occurs. Possible ways of
best overall solution to a given
business problem.
Whilst there have been many
making them more efficient include:
discussions on sustainability and the
These benefits could be ongoing.
impetus on organisations to have low
• Not having ‘idle’ backup machines
For instance, guidance about energy
carbon footprint, there is little common
which are switched on but not
efficiency for use during the outline
acknowledgement concerning what
conducting useful work. If the
and design of a solution could
is good practice as regards ‘green’
recovery times allow for it, these
also be used during maintenance
requirements for a organisation’s
backup machines should be
of existing systems to reduce
standard operating and support
switched off. Otherwise, they
energy consumption.
environment? Indeed, there has been
should be fully utilised
little, if any, new thinking in this area
The principle that ‘the polluter pays’
up to now.
• Having a higher ratio of active
is gaining widespread acceptance.
machines to standbys. Most modern
Determining how much carbon is
availability solutions are capable
being consumed by an end-user
of supporting N+1 type availability
organisation with a given IT system
configurations. Generally, there is
would make it possible to levy
no reason why a single backup
charges based on the carbon
could not be used for eight or more
profile, thus linking business activity
active machines
• Use spare capacity in existing
with the environmental cost of the
production machines to take on
IT supporting it.
production services if and when
another machine fails. Modern
partitioning techniques allow for
capacity to be allocated to virtual
machines that can take on these
workloads from failed systems.
Standards compliance is a key
Portability is closely related to
Traditionally scalability has been
attribute of many systems, allowing
standards compliance. If applications
achieved either by scaling-up (adding
interoperability and many other
conform to the appropriate standards
more capability inside the box) or
non-functional requirements to ‘work’.
then they can easily be moved from
scaling-out (adding additional
The organisation needs a set of
platform to platform as business needs
instances of capability alongside the
environmental standards that carry
change. In the green future, this
box). Both of these consume extra
equal weight with the other IT
becomes an even more powerful tool.
power and have a larger carbon
standards being used. Compliance
A new system with dramatically better
footprint. Emerging technology
with these standards is then a
green credentials which supports the
solutions, particularly in the area of
key attribute of the system and
appropriate standards could take over
accelerators, allow for large amounts
its components.
workloads from less efficient systems
of additional systems capability to
to take full advantage of the advances.
be added without massive extra
Choice of IT standards should be
power consumption. In fact, some
made with such a possibility in mind.
of these emerging technology
systems provide significant savings
in power consumption.
Financial considerations
One possibility is that an end-user
Four phases
Paying the bill – carbon charge-back
organisation could be allocated a
Reaching a satisfactory carbon
Increasingly, government, businesses,
certain quota of carbon ‘tokens’ –
charge-back system could be
and the general public are agreeing
its carbon budget, to be spent as the
carried out in four stages:
that the polluter should pay, and
computing services of an organisation
are starting to look at carbon dioxide
consume power and therefore create
Phase 1: Understanding consumption
and environmental damage as
an associated CO2 output.
of distributed IT assets
A power consumption profile is drawn
chargeable commodities.
Such a mechanism would allow
up from a handful of samples taken
Installed IT architectures may have
a organisation’s consumption of
from various classes of device around
an identifiable carbon cost, and
IT resources to be linked directly
the distributed infrastructure. This
departments and even individuals
with their environmental impact,
approach is simple and flexible, but
could be given ‘carbon budgets’
and would justify investment in the
since it does not include data centre
to meet.
IT infrastructure which would improve
devices, it remains incomplete. It also
the efficiency and thus the carbon
depends on estimates of which user
footprint of the IT architecture.
uses what proportion of shared
IT resources.
Carbon charge-back maturity model
by transaction
Monitoring of
shared infrastructure
Augmenting with data centre
consumption and power density factors
Understand consumption of distributed IT assets
“While some assume that
cutting carbon dioxide
emissions costs businesses
money, we have found just
the opposite. Addressing
climate change makes
business sense. We have
saved more than $100 million
since 1998 by conserving
energy. When you consider
the significant environmental
benefits also achieved,
cutting emissions is a
win-win proposition.”
Wayne Balta, Vice President
Corporate Environmental Affairs
and Product Safety, IBM
Phase 2: Augmenting with data centre
Phase 3: Monitoring of shared infrastructure
consumption and power density factors
Within the data centre, more powerful
Data Centre devices and other factors
servers, grid technology and
including Heating, Ventilation and
virtualisation technology mean that it
Air Conditioning (HVAC) are also
is now possible for many end-user
significant, along with lighting,
organisations to share a physical
monitoring systems and other
device or collection of devices. Using
facilities infrastructure.
existing tools, it is possible to monitor
the consumption of system resources
Up to now, the most common
by specified applications on particular
approach in the industry up to now
devices. From this, the carbon charge-
has been to define capacity by
back can be determined either on an
averaging the theoretical maximum
average user basis (assumption based)
consumption across the whole
or on a by use basis (metered).
installation and arriving at a ‘power
density’ rating measured in watts per
Phase 4: Monitoring by transaction
square metre. However, because of
Where shared infrastructure and
the inaccuracy of ‘name plate’ figures,
applications are involved, the
a more satisfactory result might be
measurement becomes more
gained by multiplying those figures
complex. Gathering the transaction
by 0.67, to reflect an approximation
volume and other data will allow
of their power consumption in actual
apportioning of power consumption
use. This approach has all of the
by organisation or user.
advantages of Phase One and
considerably improves accuracy.
Different devices in the infrastructure
have different ongoing downstream
costs, such as replacement parts,
printer cartridges, toner, and other
consumables. In this phase of the
carbon charge-back process, the
basic power consumption of different
categories of device would be
multiplied by a given factor to reflect
these costs.
The wider picture
…and downstream
Given the current climate of
There are many different factors
The downstream effect includes
public opinion, any significant IT
which make it difficult to determine
the energy used in running the IT
programme must take into account
exactly how much energy is used
infrastructure and keeping it cool.
corporate responsibility and
in the manufacture and distribution
There is also the question – raised by
environmental legislation.
of specific items of workplace
new legislation and by environmental
equipment. This includes the energy
good practice – of its possible,
Every device purchased has an
required to create such components
eventual recycling and reuse.
environmental cost, from sourcing
as chips, memory, and disc drives,
the raw materials, transportation,
the energy required during assembly,
In the past landfills have been used
assembly, distribution, commissioning,
and the energy used in the
for obsolete IT equipment, but these
operational use and the disposal and
distribution process.
are a major source of pollution.
Information is available from several
The legal position
Those people within an organisation
non-governmental organisations on the
EU regulations ban the sale of any new
who are responsible for corporate
amount of energy consumed in the
electrical and electronic equipment
social affairs should be involved in
manufacture of a device. In determining
containing more than agreed levels of
assessing the delicate balance that
the current carbon footprint of a
lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent
exists between this cost and the value
distributed IT infrastructure, the
chromium, polybrominated biphenyl
of the device. Striking that balance
simplest solution is to accept what’s
(PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl
means looking at the wider picture.
there as it is. You cannot change
ether (PBDE) flame retardants.
salvaging of components for recycling.
what has already happened.
Manufacturers need to understand
these regulations to ensure that their
products fully comply and project
teams should be aware of the law.
Watching your waste
The ethical option
Analysts predict that as many as
Companies can meet their corporate
10 million computers – and also
social responsibility requirements,
most other office equipment such
obey the latest regulations, and also
as printers, photocopiers, network
maintain a positive public profile in an
routers and fax machines – could be
increasingly environment-conscious
discarded over the next two years in
world by avoiding dumping obsolete
the UK alone. These will all have to
equipment in landfill sites.
be recycled, posing a problem for
businesses looking to meet the latest
One option is to give redundant
recycling regulations.
hardware to a charity that can arrange
for it to be recycled or reused.
The continued cycle of new software
Computer Aid International, for
introduction means that many existing
example, refurbishes PCs for use
systems may be unable to operate
in the developing world.
the latest features and functions.
Disposing of such equipment
Reuse is a practical solution because
further complicates any cost and
a computer is rarely obsolete after the
value exercise.
three- or four-year lifespan of a typical
business desktop upgrade cycle.
As the general public becomes
Extending its life by a further three
increasingly aware of the importance
years not only provides an extra
of the whole-life ecological impact of
6,000 hours of usage to people who
equipment, so IT departments will
would not otherwise have access
have to refresh their purchasing
to IT, but also effectively halves its
strategy to take account of the carbon
environmental footprint.
cost of manufacture and disposal of
individual items – the upstream and
Charities are working to ensure that
downstream costs.
the security of corporate information
is not jeopardised by recycling. For
instance, Computer Aid International
says it employs market-leading,
data-destruction software.
Section 4 – And from here…
“As global financial markets
respond to the changes
in energy supply and
environmental conditions
which now shape all
organisations, this work
demonstrates IBM’s
proactive leadership in
developing solutions and
options to address this
critical challenge.”
Andrew Spencer, IBM Vice President,
Global Technology Services
for Financial Markets
Good behaviour is good business
But preparing for such a major change
Currently, there is no UK legislation
in attitude requires a credible and
directly relating to the carbon footprint
persuasive ‘green’ sustainability
of computer equipment, but the
strategy. It needs clear objectives
Government’s draft Climate Change
and reliable information about how
Bill, following the Stern Report, aims
the strategy is working, along with
to cut CO2 emissions by 26%-30%
transparency and accountability.
by 2020, on the way to 60% cuts by
2050. These cuts will have the force
There is a strong business case for
of law, and will be accompanied
change, but it needs to be made
by five-yearly limits on emissions.
clearly, allowing fair comparisons to
The European Union, meanwhile,
be drawn. Reliable principles built on
has agreed to reduce the 1990 level
agreed priorities will provide this; and
of CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020.
over time, government-led guidelines
may offer a structured, fact-based
Such measures are not aimed
approach. Organisations will be
specifically at computing equipment –
committed to systematic sustainability
but there is no doubt that new
improvements and detailed reporting
restrictions and requirements covering
about them.
all energy-using devices will be on
the way. It is more economical and
On the surface, the question ‘What is
efficient to treat such regulations
the carbon footprint of a distributed
proactively in the planning, designing,
IT infrastructure?’ appears to be very
and implementation phases of IT
simple to answer – but, as we have
solutions and other office and
seen, there are real complexities to
workplace equipment, rather than
be considered.
waiting to react to them once they
are announced.
Sustainability starts with protecting
assets through environmental,
social and ethical risk assessment.
This paper offers a data-based assessment of the issue; it provides
insights, approaches and techniques which should enable an organisation
to reach an answer with confidence.
The inconvenient truth is that we are spending more on
energy than we realised; that we are spending it in ways
that we don’t fully understand; and that we are going to
have to do better.
But by tackling the green issues of carbon footprint
and environmental footprint, we can achieve real
business benefits, cut costs, and increase value.
Making the change will be a journey – but the
inconvenient truth is a convenient starting point.
Taking a green approach towards IT issues fits in with the growing
awareness of the problems of climate change and sustainability. It is in
line with public opinion, and improves the public profile of the organisation.
And by minimising waste, it has positive financial implications. We can
be rewarded for being good.
Good behaviour, in fact, is good business.
IBM is committed to environmental leadership in all of its business
activities. For further information see
“By tackling the green issues of carbon footprint
and environmental footprint, we can achieve real
business benefits.”
Richard Lanyon-Hogg
Chief Technology Officer –
Green Technologies
IBM United Kingdom Limited
76 Upper Ground
South Bank
Mobile: +44 (0)7710 063452
E-mail: HOGGR @
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