Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pressure and Time

Kelvyn Taylor lays it down for us, describing exactly what it is going to take to get sustainable computing into the mainstream. Kelvyn takes the position that things will eventually change when consumers start demanding the green product. I'm sure this is a major part of it, not that anyone is running out and asking my opinion right now.

But the other part is the waste. Taylor sums it up here:

Mention environmentalism in relation to IT and it’s usually a debate about a CPU’s power consumption or clever power management modes and recycling scams. But as I found out after following up some of Diamond’s references, the total energy consumed during a PC’s lifespan is only about 19 percent of its overall energy impact – the rest is used during its production.

All too true, especially the part about 81 percent of the energy in computing being used to make the iron. That's about ten times of the weight of the PC, probably the most wasteful thing in common use on Earth. Cars have a 1:1 ratio.

I read an article about transportation a while saying that planes will be the first thing to go, because flight is so fundamentally costly. There's a lot of evidence that that is the case, with national airlines folding and a lot of the US ones in bankruptcy. Could the computer be the first thing to go? More importantly, and I don't know the answer, how can they be so cheap?

1 comment:

mping said...

I have been reading through all of your blog posts and have been enjoying them. I think green computing is an important topic and glad to see that you are blogging on it.

One topic that I would really love to read more about is total energy lifecycle analysis of PCs. If you would write more on them, I would be most grateful.

I have read the UN University report mentioned in the article (I have it in .pdf if you would like it, just leave a message on my blog and I can email it to you) and it had some assumptions that I thought were kind of suspect and it was done over 5 years ago. I would hope that someone else has done another report on such an important topic since then, but I haven't found one. If you could find one and blog on it, that would be great.

If 81% of an average PCs lifespan energy is in the manufacturing, shouldn't more emphasis be put in "green manufacturing" rather than green usage? If there is 4 times as much energy being used to create the computer as used to run it during its lifetime, it really seems like that is the place serious energy savings can take place.

And it seems that green standards like EPEAT should have some sort of standard as to how much energy can be used to make the computer. If you read through the EPEAT critera there is nothing about energy needed to manufacture the product. It talks about how much can be used to run the computer, but not to manufacture it.