Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Green IT - The New Goal

What can be potentially more important than building the smart grid? How about building a Green Smart Grid? As I flew from Chicago to Portland to present at the Oregon Innotech Expo and Conference, I rehearsed my remarks on a presentation that I have been working on for several months. The fruit of over 3 years of work in the transformation that I lead at Austin Energy. The new goal is to turn data centers green. To deliver Green IT.

So why is this so important? Perhaps because the world has problems and we must assume the responsibility to fix them. For example, did you know that the average American use of transportation and electricity releases 10 metric tons of CO 2 per year? Or that the goods and services that the average American consumes create 14 metric tons of CO 2 per year? Or that South Asia is covered with a 2 mile thick toxic cloud that kills 500,000 people a year in India alone? Or that China generated 1.3 billion metric tons of trash in 2005? Or that 1 out of 5 people in the planet lack access to clean drinking water? Or that there are 300 million cases of malaria per year – 90% of them in Africa? O that by 2050 the melting of the poles will raise the sea level 23 feet impacting our coast lines? Or that by 2048 most fish species availability will decline over 50%?

So what does that have to do with Information Technology and Data Centers? Why should IT people care? Try this.......because $26 billion were spent in cooling and powering servers worldwide in 2005, which is the equivalent to being the 75th country in the world out of 183 countries. And it gets worst.

1.5 % of electrical power is used by all data centers
3.5 % of electrical power to be used by all data center by 2012
12 billion kilowatt hours were used by all data centers in 2000
23 billion kilowatt hours were used by all data center in 2005
The energy required to power and cool $1,000 worth of servers grew from 8 watts in 2000 to 109 watts in 2006.

So what can we do to reduce the use of electricity to run servers and cool data centers that get really hot from running more servers?

We can do many things. We at Austin Energy have been working on designing green data centers for customers for a long time and we have also been using new technologies internally to learn more on how far we can save energy. Here are a few proven methods that we recommend:

1.Buy 100% Green Energy first (Austin Energy has the #1 Green Energy Program in the US)
2.Buy more efficient servers with new CPU technology (IBM, Dell, HP, Sun, Azul Systems, others)
3.Temperature and Control Sensors (APC, Site Controls, others)
4.Virtualization (VMWare, Altiris, AppStream, Microsoft, Ardence, IBM, Tadpole, others)
5.Data Center Upgrades/Redesign (IBM, Sun, EMC, HP, others)
6.Information Life-cycle Management / ITIL (IBM, CA, HP, BMC, Sun, others)
7.De-duplication and Compression (Avamar/EMC, ExaGrid, Asigra, others)
8.Centralized DC Power Systems (APC, others)

The opportunities to save energy and propel IT to lead the thought process on conservation is also a money making opportunity for so many.

So what about the normal individual? Can you and I help from our humble positions the environment? Absolutely. We can do more than most people would let you believe. Think of this for a minute: There are over 232 million registered vehicles in the U.S. That's almost a car per person. 88% of Americans drive to work. U.S. cars and light trucks traveled 2.7 trillion miles in 2005. That's equal to 10 million trips from the earth to the moon. The average U.S. car uses 600 gallons of gasoline a year.

So what can us average Citizens of the Earth do to curb the pollution created by cars??? Here are some 'tips for driving' to cut global warming pollution from the Environmental Defense Fund:

Lighten up! Carrying around an extra 100 pounds in your car reduces your fuel economy by up to two percent. Take with you only what you need and be sure to place luggage inside instead of in the trunk or on the roof to minimize drag and maximize your mileage.

Take it easy. Nine out of 10 doctors and engineers agree—aggressive driving wastes fuel, not to mention increases stress and accidents! Rapid acceleration and braking reduces gas mileage and can burn an extra 125 gallons of gas per year. Even if the person driving in front of you hasn't seen our tips list, hold your horsepower and keep your cool.

Keep it slow. In highway travel, exceeding the speed limit by a mere five mph results in an average fuel economy loss of six percent. You're not on the NASCAR circuit. This is commuting, not racing.

Don't be an American idle. Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more gas and emits more global warming pollution than restarting your car! Also, the best way to warm up a car in winter months is to drive it. When the temperature is below freezing, give it 30 seconds—that's all you need.

Hot fun in the summer time. Air conditioning can decrease your fuel efficiency by as much as 12 percent in stop-and-go traffic, so consider cracking the windows. But at high speeds, driving with the windows open can decrease the overall efficiency of the vehicle. At higher speeds, you can use the vents to get a good air flow. On the hottest days keep your AC on low.

Don't be tune deaf. Keeping your engine properly tuned can save you up to 165 gallons of gas per year. Checking spark plugs, oxygen sensors, air filters, hoses and belts are a few examples of maintenance that can result in potential savings of over $400. (Energy Information Administration's U.S. Retail Gasoline Prices).

Keep up the pressure. Low tire pressure wastes over two million gallons of gasoline in the United States—every day! Save about a tank of gas a year by keeping your tires properly inflated. And make sure to have your tires correctly aligned to maximize fuel economy.

Go grease lightning. Thicker-than-required oil will reduce your gas mileage because it takes more energy to push through thick oil than it does through thinner oil. Check your owner's manual for the recommended viscosity, and ask for it specifically when you get your oil changed.
Combine trips. Cutting a 20 mile trip out of your schedule each week can reduce your global warming pollution by more than 1,200 pounds a year and save you over $100 in gas expenses.

Share a ride. Carpool and use public transportation when possible. If you share rides and use other means to get to work, you'll save yourself money, reduce congestion on the roads and cut your global warming pollution.

Just park it. And keep it there. If you’re going to several stores in the same strip mall, don’t move your car. Walk.

Gotta wear shades. In summer, park in the shade. Use windshield shades to keep summer heat from baking your car and to help keep frost away in the winter.

Move your feet. Walk, ride a bike or take the train when your car is not needed.

Avoid the rush. Plan trips during off hours when fewer cars are clogging the roads.

Wholesale sales. Buy in bulk when shopping, instead of making frequent smaller trips.

Spread the word. Be an ambassador for the Earth by sharing these tips with family and friends.

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