Pedro MartinezPedro is a Technology Leader, former CIO/CTO and co-founder, speaker, father of 3, former paratrooper and US Army veteran.  He counts with 19 years of experience in Tech.  Follow Pedro for valuable information about Cloud adoption and overall Digital Transformation.

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Green or Eco-Friendly Technology, Really?

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Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Photo: Chesapeake Bay Foundation, an icon for sustainability designed

I’ve replied to @CookWithSaronn’ s tweet about a new project she is working on related to Green Web Hosting, stating—“I look forward to that blog. Green tech is one of my favorite topics…” She replied back to me with –“Cool! I’m very interested in green technology. So what’s new? Fill me!’ I’ve paused for a moment to think about that, while I was sipping on a glass with 2006 Chateau de Cornemps Bordeaux and sporadically watching this week’s episode of “The Biggest Looser.” What do I know about green technology? After all, I’m only an IT pro currently working with one of the top 10 architecture firms on the planet and co-founded a company that helps small businesses go from paper to digital. Well, let’s see.

The word “Green” is been used so broadly that I need to break it down to get a better understanding. Green is been used to label a product, company, program or service that causes minimal changes to the natural environment we live in; that’s eco-friendly. The word green is also used to describe something that it is “sustainable.” Yet another word you have probably heard a lot in the past few years. When the term sustainable is used, it is often referred to something that does not consume, or consume very little, the natural resources of our environment. The sustainable “thing” that is been described uses renewable energy sources, that is carbon neutral or that has a net zero carbon footprint. Example of renewable energy sources are: biofuels, solar power, wind power, wave power, geothermal power and tidal power.

Green Technology can be described as a technical or technology related idea, product or service that it is carbon-neutral-minded. The same exploits and utilizes simple techniques and practices such as:

  • building devices with eco-friendly and 100% recyclable materials
  • uses low-powered computer chips
  • takes advantage of renewable sources of energy such as electricity like solar, wind or water power

One doesn’t have to be an IT pro, or a scientist, or an engineer for that matter to come up with ways to be green, technologically speaking. By simply, using 100% recyclable paper on your home or office printer, you can get on board the “green technology” wagon. Other examples include: changing that huge CRT monitor you bought on the late 90s, or over 4 years ago, for an LCD flat-panel monitor, using a power surge protector with a timer to reduce after hours energy consumption, or simply changing your home’s or office’s incandescent light bulbs for a compact fluorescent light bulbs, or simply use your smart phone to check email more often so you don’t have to turn your computer on as much, etc. If you really are into getting green, you can also host your blog site on Green Web Hosting provider’s network. Now, I had to research this one a bit, because it is often misleading.

Green Web Hosting is a term I first heard probably around summer of 2006, just around the time Al Gore’s book, “An Inconvenient Truth,” came out. Since then, I have heard and read a ton about non-profits (mainly) and other government motivated agencies and companies trying to push the practice and shovel guiltiness for killing the planet down our throats; that’s called “Green Marketing,” a good topic by itself for another not to distant blog entry.

Anyway, Green or Eco-friendly web hosting is simply a recent term or label used by web hosting companies attempting to prove that they are not having any negative impact on our environment and to lure the green consumer in. Web hosting companies may get their credentials through Carbon offsetting, use part of their electricity from wind or solar energy sources, plant trees, use energy conscious appliances and practice other small, but still important, energy conservation activities on a daily basis.

Now, while searching more into how web hosting companies go green, this is what I found courtesy of Wikipedia (I’m not even go to touch it):

Buy Carbon Credits. Offset means “neutralize,” “balance,” or “cancel out.” When you buy a carbon offset, therefore, you are helping to fund a project that reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Offsets can also involve planting trees.

Buy Green Tags. Also known as Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), buying green tags means the energy that you use is created by a green source (wind, solar, hydro) and delivered to the power grid you’re connected to (even though you aren’t using it necessarily).

Virtualization – this is a type of sharing of resources among customers, so that you can more effectively use your server hardware. This can potentially reduce the number of servers consuming energy.

Use more energy friendly servers. There are alternative types of servers that green companies can choose to buy and use. Some have two servers housed within a single box, utilizing the same power supply. This cuts down on consumption. There is also a server technology called “speed stepping” that will reduce the amount of voltage and heat a server uses, especially during peak usage.

Data Center Layout. Anything from how you weatherize your center to how you lay out your air conditioning can greatly reduce the amount of energy consumed.

Other methods. Propane gas is also being utilized for back-up resources. Propane gas is cleaner than diesel. There are also windmill driven data centers, installing solar panels, completely solar data center, paperless office, telecommuting employees, incentives for alternative work transportation are all additional measures that web hosting companies can take to become green or greener hosting companies. Some companies are attempting to offset the energy consumed by their customers by planting a tree for each new customer.

Putting some of these mentioned tips and practices to use can only help our environment. If you are one of those that support the theory that planet is going through a cycle, I respect that, please disregard any mentioned on this blog. To be honest, our smarter folks in the world are split on the subject of global warming. What make me think I have the correct answer or theory? America is still a free country. Do whatever you want, but respect your neighbor.

So Saronn, thank you for sparking in me a curiosity to dig into this subject. I feel smarter today.  And to answer your question of what’s new, hmm, you’ll find that it is a slow process for technology or computers for that matter to become 100% green, but you’ll hear a lot about Green Marketing in the next couple of years. That of course, is after you get your ears ripped off hearing about Healthcare in the U.S.

Cheers and ashes!  Or should I say, happy cooking!? ;)