Top data centres to win Energy Start label

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Much has been written about 'greening' our ICT solutions by making them more power efficient. Companies have latched onto this idea, building power efficiency into their procurement requirements to help reduce the energy overhead in their data centres. Recently, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lent its support to the concept of green IT by introducing a data centre efficiency standard. But this approach to green ICT is only the start of a longer journey for modern corporations.

The EPA's Data Center Energy Star label extends a certification that already covers a range of consumer products such as televisions and refrigerators. Like the other iterations of Energy Star, this initiative awards the label to the top 25% of applicants, based on energy efficiency.
Companies achieving this award will not only achieve a laudable corporate social responsibility (CSR) goal, but they will also reap significant financial rewards. The EPA says that improving data centre energy efficiency by 10% across the US would save more than 6 billion kilowatt-hours each year. This would be enough to power more than 350,000 homes and save more than $450 million annually, the EPA predicts. In addition to being good for the environment, it also helps to reduce corporate energy bills.

Start of a journey

However, making ICT greener is only one part of the equation. Truly forward-thinking companies will view ICT as a means of driving environmentally-friendly working practices into the rest of the business by using it to enable operational efficiencies.
Such efficiencies can take many forms. An organisation with a heavy reliance on field service personnel, for example, has a great opportunity to manage vehicle routes more effectively using a mixture of GPS and geographical information system technology, in conjunction with service scheduling software. This can help to fit more visits onto every field service engineer's route, while also removing commute times to the office by transmitting job information directly to an electronic device. This can save fuel, which is, as we have seen, a resource with a very volatile price. It can also reduce carbon emissions.
Organisations might also use ICT to reduce the amount of air travel needed by switching to video communications or telepresence. They may choose to make their own buildings smarter using wireless sensors that turn off lights and heating when offices are emptied. The possibilities to green a business using ICT are limited largely by the imagination.
In Amsterdam, at Orange Business Live conference from 15-17 June, Orange Business Services will demonstrate some green ICT solutions that will help deliver the the environmental benefits of ICT to the rest of the organisation. With ICT said to be an enabler for reducing global carbon emissions by at least 15%, businesses attending the conference could find themselves benefitting from the green technology revolution.
You can follow the event on the Live blog here or on the Posterous blog: http://orangebusiness.posterous.com/
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Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.