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carbon footprint

Earth Day Message: Take Meaningful Steps

April 22, 2009

The Earth is our home, folks, and there isn't exactly another piece of real estate like it in the galactic neighborhood, so let's not try to make in uninhabitable by our own hands.

Here are some meaningful steps we can take:

* Go hosted. Buying and accessing centrally managed solutions uses less hardware hence less e-waste and are more energy-efficient than purchasing and installing separate units on premises.

Kudos to the ITU, Now The Next Green Challenge: Wired Versus Wireless

April 17, 2009

Kudos to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for its work in developing methodologies to examine the environmental impacts and the benefits of IT communications (ICT).
 
The ITU is developing tools to calculate energy usage and carbon impact arising from ICT lifecycles and to examine the decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that can be achieved with ICTs. Examples of the latter include substituting ICT services and devices for intensive fossil-fueled activities for travel and transport and by replacing atoms with bits (buying an MP3 file instead of a CD), also known as 'dematerialization'. 

The organization also noted a trend towards 'always-on' devices that are a drain on power supplies. On the other hand a contribution to its focus group meeting showed that direct e-mail has the effect of a 98.5 per cent carbon dioxide emission reduction compared with paper. 

"A common methodology will help establish the business case to go green and can ultimately be beneficial to informed consumer choices and climate-friendly business procurement," say Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.

Now what's needed is for the ITU or another similar august body to tackle a real interesting and probably the next green issue: wired versus wireless, both in the actual energy to push X amount of data (including voice) from A to B, and in construction and lifecycle construction and maintenance impacts.







Answers to this matter can help decisionmakers, and green-and-energy-conscious businesses and individuals to make the right choices.

As Tesla discovered, air is a lousy conductor of electricity, not to mention the safety concerns.

Wanted: A 'GreenDex

April 14, 2009

There have been plenty to the point of overload of competing green claims--that some times amount to greenwash--regarding the apparent and supposed environmental benefits of buildings, products, features, technologies, services, and practices: from LEED buildings to telework.

At the same time there have been points raised about the costs both direct and indirect i.e. lost productivity of going green: at what price to organizations especially in this tough economy with limited resources.

To help organizations, decisionmakers, and yes journalists and the public, could some reputable association develop with consensus from all parties: industry, academia, government, environmental groups devise an objective 'GreenDex' to evaluate products, services, applications and practices to help us reduce our environmental footprints?

Telus Makes the Future Friendlier (and Greener)

March 9, 2009

Telus, which is one of Canada's largest communications companies, has taken an unusual--and correct--path in green marketing. It has gone green first through instituting a telework program for its internal contact center agents, which it calls at-home agents or AHAs and then decided to form and promote its AHA consulting/hosting program to other companies.

Telus has 750 AHAs who presently live within 150 km/95 miles from the firm's eight contact centers: in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec and come in for training. That number will expand to 1,050 by the end of 2009.  They will represent nearly 21 percent of its contact center workforce from 16 percent currently.

Incentivize 'GreenWorking'

February 5, 2009

It is gratifying to see many countries, such as Australia, Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. plan to spend money on expanding their broadband networks.
 
The Canadian Parliament passed that country's 2009 budget on Tuesday with C$225 million to be spent over three years to develop and implement a strategy on extending broadband coverage to unserved rural and remote communities. 

Public assistance is needed, says the government, which is controlled by the Conservative party led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, because companies cannot turn a profit on the investments needed to reach out to these individuals and businesses owing to density and distance from major hubs.

Only with broadband can consumers and businesses effectively access information, goods and services, and yes work i.e. telework via the information highway by riding on the equivalent of paved roads to and from their homes, storefronts, and factories as compared with the dirt tracks of dial-up and plank roads of satellite.

Yet it would be nice for governments also to offer tax incentives, either tax deductions to corporations or grants-in-lieu of taxes to nonprofits, to nudge these organizations to provide teleworking i.e. 'GreenWorking'. The Telework Coalition has called for just that, pointing that there are parking and transit deductions but none for telework.

One of the factors holding telework back has been less-than-competent managers who are unable to supervise others without seeing them Victorian-style.









Why EVs (etc.) are NG

January 15, 2009

I have long been skeptical about electric or other alternative-fueled vehicles as truly green technologies because they all consume vast amounts of life-giving open space to transport comparatively few people and goods, drives more sprawl, which does likewise, and incurs air-killing construction and upkeep and requires hydrocarbon-based paving materials.

Peter Foster, a columnist in Canada's National Post, along with associated commentators have come up with a few more points to consider, in his column Wednesday subtitled 'Today's alternative vehicles are all profit graveyards or subsidy pits'.

Mr. Foster correctly pointed out one of the fallacies behind assuming that people will buy electric vehicles (EVs) and that is it isn't the average amount of driving per day that matters but the farthest that one usually wants to go.

"Apparently, Americans on average drive their cars less than 35 miles a day, but to suggest that this supports the viability of short-range electric cars is like suggesting that a five-foot tall person should be in no trouble if forced to spend alternate one hour periods in water six feet deep and two feet deep.

Greening The Data Center

November 24, 2008

Data centers: data warehouse appliances and servers are the 'boilers' of the information revolution. They enable almost every business process from administration to customer service, decisioning, design/engineering, distribution, manufacturing, marketing/sales, and support. They also require a lot of electricity for operations and cooling to keep these units functional and to limit failures.

Carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter are the key harmful compounds and materials released when burning fossil fuels such as for electric power generation.

Here's How To Make Airports Really Green...

September 23, 2008

I applaud the airports for taking steps to use less energy, generate fewer emissions, and recycle more, as reported in a USA Today story last week that I had perused while at ITEXPO West.

Yet if these facilities, and their airline masters truly want to go green they should:

* Invest in European-styled electric high-speed rail links to replace short-haul flights. 

A Hydro-Quebec report published in 2006 revealed that such air travel can release as much as 340 grams of CO2 per passenger-kilometre as compared with zero for a passenger in a high-speed electric train, powered from hydroelectric dams. In contrast, long-haul flights, for which there is no competition (other than the ultraclean choice of conferencing) release as little as 102 grams.

Short haul flights also eat up runway space, whose expansion chews up life-giving greenspace. More runway wear-and-tear also means more pollution-adding construction and maintenance.

*Shift access to mass transit and shared-ride away from private vehicles. Invest in rapid transit and subsidize off-site airport buses to transit centers, like existing commuter rail/bus stations near where users live.









Going Green To L-A...To ITEXPO West

September 10, 2008


The headline above sounds like an oxymoron, given that Los Angeles has for 60 years come to represent everything brown and ugly as opposed green and bright in the environment. For "L-A" was the first city--and far from the last--to buy into the 1930s urbanist vision of dispersed sprawling communities linked by car-occupied freeways, popularized at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City.   The car and the wide, fast roads to accommodate it represented individual freedom, the escape from dirty, fetid cities into fresh countryside and wide open spaces, once the province of farmers and the elite. Unfortunately like most visions it overlooked the consequences, like smog, which began to be inflicted by cars on Los Angeles as early as the late 1940s, and traffic congestion that has proven to be impossible to build out of.   There is a plaque in the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, (also known as Union Station used by Amtrak and the Metrolink commuter rail that discusses the deliberate freewayization of Los Angeles that destroyed what was the world's greatest mass transit network, the  Pacific Electric interurbans or 'Red Cars'. This figured as a subplot in the hit animated/real action comedy film 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?'  The city also had an extensive narrow gauge urban streetcar system, which shared tracks with the Red Cars with inside rails for the trolleys.   Since the early 1990s "L-A" has been pouring money if by fits and starts into returning the 'Red Cars' now known as light rail transit or LRT, plus in subways, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit that have proven popular especially with high gas prices.

APC's new Data Center Carbon Calculator

August 11, 2008

 American Power Conversion has devised an excellent tool, the Data Center Carbon Calculator, to help you changes in data center efficiency on energy consumption and carbon output. This handy measurement is part of a series of Trade-Off Tools (TM) developed by APC to help organizations examine virtualization, efficiency, power sizing, capital costs, and other key design issues.

The Data Center Carbon Calculator gives you valuable information on energy costs, broken down even to the state level in the US though alas not to the state level in Australia or by province in Canada. It presents two scenarios that you can adjust that will give you differing results, and in local currencies. This provides you with a general indication of how "green" your data center is today and how "green" it could be.

The APC kit does need a little refinement, such as the aforementioned need to granulate to different subjurisdiction, plus the ability to easily trackback or jump to other countries. Even so, I highly recommend looking at it and at the other toolkits that APC offers.



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