Data centers get competition in “Who has the biggest carbon footprint”


ACS
Recently the Australian Computer Society published a report that gives an almost complete picture of the carbon footprint of IT usage in Australia in 2010.

They found that the biggest components of IT carbon emissions in Australia are the data centre environment (18.8 per cent), PCs (15.8 per cent), printers and imaging equipment (15.7%) and servers (14.7%).

What catch the eye are the printers. This category includes computer printers, and also fax machines and multi-function devices (MFDs) – devices used for any combination of printing, scanning, copying and faxing. Stand-alone photocopiers are excluded, but stand-alone fax machines are included. Because there is little existing data on the installed base of printers and other imaging devices some estimates has been made. This report assumes printer numbers in households to be 75 per cent of the number of desktop and laptop PCs. For organizations they came to use the proxy of total number of servers to equal total number of imaging devices in medium and large businesses.The number of imaging devices in small business is calculated as the 25 per cent of the total number of desktop and laptop PCs (i.e. one imaging device is shared on average between every four IT users).

Another remarkably finding is that “if video monitors are added to PCs, their total energy consumption exceeds a quarter of the total. Add games consoles, and the figure is nearly one-third of the total”.

Carbon Footprint Australia

Carbon Footprint Australia (c) ACS 2010

Adding up the PCs, monitors, mobile devices, consoles and printers and the carbon print of the Workspace is almost 50% of the total IT Carbon Footprint. Also the carbon footprint of servers almost equals the footprint of desktop PCs, laptops & notebook PCs and Terminals & Thin Clients together (14.7% versus 15.8%).

This makes you think where to start in reducing the carbon footprint. One of the methods you can use is a Pareto analysis. This is a statistical technique in decision-making that is used for selection of a limited number of tasks that produce significant overall effect. It uses the Pareto principle, the idea that by doing 20% of work, 80% of the advantage of doing the entire job can be generated. Or otherwise stated, a large majority of problems (80%) are produced by a few key causes (20%).

Taking this in to action gave the following table for Australia:

Carbon Footprint Table

Carbon Footprint Table

Following with a Pareto chart …
CFP Pareto Chart

CFP Pareto Chart

Where you can see that the first six IT components (of the eighteen in total) are responsible for 80% of the carbon footprint. That is of course the data centers and the servers (A and D) but also printers (B), PC’s (C), Video monitors (E) and network infrastructure (F).

So there are the components to target, to reduce the carbon foot print and where changes have a real impact. Not only data centers but also the workspace equipment is something to take care of.

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