Green Computing

Author: Solomon Pinnock
Date Updated: Jan. 1, 2014
Occupation: Student (University of the West Indies, Mona)


- Where is this 'green-computing' coming from?
The high and rising prices of energy (from oil) have force a number of businesses to find alternatives for their sources of energy; this demand made companies launch initiatives such as Green Computing. This initiative is highly beneficial for the environment, but businesses just don’t do things unless there is some profit or reduction in their cost.

As suspected, there is actually a great number of benefits for these companies. One of the greatest benefits is saving money (reducing cost), some companies will even save millions due to the green policies they put in effect as they get to ‘cut back’ on energy consumption. Going green is unusually about the environment, it is commonly just a business strategy. Green Computing as such should not come as a surprise. The IT industry is one of the largest energy consumer, this is because almost all IT equipment consume energy, some significantly more than others.

Computers require energy for cooling fans, servers, network devices etc. Servers are usually on 24/7 and as such these companies usually have very large electricity bills. A stagnating economy will force businesses to get all they can in revenue which requires regulating their energy consumption thus reduction in cost. In the IT industry, the reduction of energy consumption is not just related to usage but also the materials that make and manufacture these devices.

Computers contain several hazardous materials and as such there has been an increase in companies ‘going green’. The late 1990s and early 2000s witnessed many regulatory milestones, and the recent years witness companies innovating to incorporate green technology.

What is Green Computing?

Definition 1:

Green Computing is a philosophical approach to computers where the goal is to reduce the environmental impact of both the user and the manufacturer. This includes making computers as energy efficient as possible, using materials that can be recycled or are biodegradable, and using fewer toxic materials and disposing of them safely.

Definition 2 (Green Devices):

Green Devices are machines are progressively designed to minimize energy use and have less of an impact on the environment. This doesn’t just mean they suck less juice out of electrical sockets, though. Truly green electronics also feature materials and use manufacturing processes that are less energy-intensive than traditional methods and even use renewable and natural materials when possible.

Definition 3 (Green Technology):

Green technology is the application of environmental science to offer economically viable solutions that conserve the natural environment and resources, and curb the negative impacts of human involvement.

Why Green Computing?

The rapid productivity of data centers required the constant addition of server, cooling and ventilation equipment that led to an ever-increasing demand of energy and increased presence of toxic and hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and others. This made people look at ways to apply green technology in computing to mitigate the serious environmental and health concerns. Electronic devices are a complex mixture of several hundred materials. A mobile phone, for example, contains 500 to 1000 components. Many of these contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, brominated flame retardants, cadmium, beryllium and hazardous chemicals. Polluting PVC plastic is also frequently used. These dangerous substances cause serious pollution and put workers at risk of exposure when the products are produced or disposed of. Of particular concern is the exposure of children and pregnant women to lead and mercury. These metals are highly toxic and can harm children and developing foetuses even at low levels of exposure.

Where are some of these materials? -

What are the applications of Green Computing?

Some examples of the application of green technology in computing include:

Click see the list of other applications and remedies

How can I help promote Green Computing?

When consumers add up the cost savings they can reap when they buy more energy-efficient, greener consumer electronics, they realize it can be easier on the wallet to be green.
Some of the energy efficiency of new products isn’t just in how many kilowatts they need for power but also how they manage their energy use, which is especially true for computers.
Other than buying energy-efficient products, customers can practice energy-usage practices at home such as by unplugging devices when not in use.
Recycling is another area where the consumer can play a role. Many people just set their old television or computer monitor out by the curb, destined for the county landfill. But this decision isn’t just bad for the environment, it can be bad for human health as well.


In February 2003, the European Union passed the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS). The directive restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment, including computers. The legislation requires enforcement in every member state of the European Union. RoHS helps reduce damaging effect to people and the environment in third-world countries where much of today's e-waste ends up.

What is this 'Energy Star' that you see on your computer everyday?

The first major landmark in the history of green computing was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Energy Star program, launched in 1992. “Energy Star” is a voluntarily labeling program that segregates computers, monitors and other equipment based on their energy efficiency.

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