what are the energy challenges for IT?

Within largely computerized and connected organizations such as those in the banking and insurance sectors, the energy consumed by IT equipment now represents a significant source of spending: up to 50% of the total energy budget for businesses in the most energy-consuming business sectors.

The share of energy needed for IT equipment has increased by a factor of ten over the past 20 years. Oftentimes, it costs more to power a computer than to purchase it. 

Organizations are increasingly becoming attuned to the importance of reducing their energy consumption and have begun exploring the concepts of Green IT, which aims to limit the impact of IT equipment from upstream (design, purchase) to downstream phases (waste, recycling).

In addition, an associated movement, IT for Green focuses on the benefits that IT technology can provide throughout a company’s organization, notably by assessing and optimizing the energy consumption of buildings, transportation, power grids, cities, etc.

sometimes we forget... no energy means no business!

Companies are facing three major energy challenges in 2013:

  • Energy prices have increased and will continue to rise significantly. By late 2016, the cost of electricity in Europe, for example, could increase by up to 30%. Higher energy prices will have a major impact on company profit margins.
  • In the construction sector in France, the 2012 Thermal Regulations require businesses to incorporate the future energy consumption of new construction into the design phase for these projects. For all sectors, article 75 of the French Grenelle 2 law requires businesses to compile and publish a report on their greenhouse gas emissions and develop a plan to reduce these emissions.
  • Regulations continue to develop and change. In California, the 2012 energy efficiency standards require new nonresidential construction to include solar-ready roofs, advanced lighting controls and efficient process equipment for computer data centers. For all sectors, it has also passed a new requirement that operators of non-residential buildings disclose a building’s energy use data to prospective buyers, lessees or lenders.
  • Studies and reports by different NGOs have regularly directed attention to the environmental impact of organizations. They have also underlined a growing demand for energy, notably in IT, referring to the information systems set up and used daily by these organizations.

how can we reduce IT energy consumption?

In Green IT, special attention is paid to reducing the environmental impact of equipment. Two main equipment categories have been outlined for this purpose: employees’ work environment (work stations, printers, telephones, etc.), which often makes up a third of a company’s IT energy consumption, and the IT infrastructure environment, which can account for two-thirds of a business’s IT energy consumption. IT infrastructure includes network assets (switches, routers, etc.) and data centers (servers).

To learn more about reducing energy consumption, you can consult the following white paper: Reducing the Energy Consumption of IT Equipment.


image © fotoknips - Fotolia.com

The original, French version of this post can be found here.

Jean-Manuel Canet

I'm a senior manager at Orange Consulting, an affiliate of Orange Business, repsonsible for sustainable development.  We help businesses and public institutions to better understand and reduce their IT-related energy consumption and carbon emissions.