Hardware goes green

Reducing energy consumption made easy

November 30, 2009

Reducing energy consumption made easy

Modern businesses today require more power than ever before just to do business, and yet international pressure demands that organisations decrease their energy consumption in order to reduce their carbon footprint and impact on the environment. In fact, organisations that do not reduce energy consumption by the prescribed amount may face heavy financial penalties or exorbitant premiums on excess usage.

One of the most efficient ways to reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint is to reduce energy consumption within the Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure. This has led to a wave of green, eco-friendly and energy efficient hardware tools being developed by manufacturers across the board, from data centre solutions to monitors and even more energy efficient hard drives, with all of the performance that people have come to expect from the products, yet up to half of the energy emissions.

Data Centres are among the most energy ‘hungry’ areas within an organisation, consuming between five and fifty times as much power as standard office facilities, and logically are one of the first places to start when looking to reduce energy consumption. However many organisations ignore the data centre, sacrificing efficiency for reliability. Or so they think.

“Many organisations do not realise that is possible to have both a reliable and efficient data centre,” says Robert Brand, APC Product Specialist at distributor Drive Control Corporation (DCC): “When it comes to data centres, they can be designed from the ground up to be exceptionally energy efficient and new technology can actually improve reliability. In fact, we recently worked with a large local financial services organisation to make their data centre one of the most efficient in the country and significantly reduce their energy consumption while greatly enhancing reliability.”

Improving the performance of data centres involves intelligent design and products in terms of power, cooling and lighting. Blade servers, air conditioners, and lighting are all now being rolled out in ‘intelligent’ formats that decrease power consumption when usage is low. And air conditioners can now be installed next to data racks, with inbuilt sensors to supply cooling as and when it is needed instead of constantly running at full speed.

By increasing the efficiency of data centres, organisations can better control electricity costs, live up to social responsibility, reduce overheating of the centre and fulfil carbon emission reduction commitments.

When it comes to monitors, not only does the Energy Star rating regulate the recommended energy consumption for screens, there is also a host of new technology being developed to reduce consumption and increase efficiency.

This includes two lamp monitor technology which is gradually replacing the traditional four and six lamp monitors of old, the evolution of LED monitors, the use of eco-friendly materials in manufacturing monitors and even reduced and recyclable packaging. On top of this, monitors are being manufactured to contain far less lead and mercury than before and are therefore kinder to the environment.

“Another innovation in terms of energy consumption is the world’s first ever intelligent power sensor, currently available on high end monitors,” says Bruce Byrne, Visual Communications Specialist at DCC. “The revolutionary sensor detects user presence and automatically adjusts monitor performance accordingly. This powers down the wattage by 50%.”

Even hard drives have not escaped the green wave, with highly efficient and reliable low energy drives being introduced across the world. Green drives not only reduce power consumption, but also yield lower operating temperature, meaning that they will not over heat and are therefore more reliable.

Energy efficient hard drives can make a real difference to energy consumption, by cutting energy consumption by an impressive 40% compared to standard drives. And because these drives run cooler, they reduce the demand on cooling systems in data centres. In the long term, this significantly reduces an organisation’s carbon footprint.

“The new green platforms that have been introduced make it possible for energy conscious consumers to build systems with higher capacity and reduced energy consumption, with the right balance of system performance, ensuring reliability and energy conservation,” says Vassen Naicker, Western Digital product specialist at DCC. “This not only benefits the environment, but the organisation as well.”

Going green is no longer a fad, but something which is controlled by legislation, best practice guidelines and international standards. By making small changes to the products organisations buy and by utilising intelligent design, enterprises can not only save money by reducing power consumption, they can also increase efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint by impressive long term margins, helping to save the environment too.