Green IT and the Struggle for a Widespread Adoption

Green IT and the Struggle for a Widespread Adoption

Edward T. Chen (University of Massachusetts – Lowell, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7359-3.ch012
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Increasing pollution levels, consumption of electricity as well as other natural resources, and the continuous buildup of outdated computer systems in landfills are plaguing the computer systems industry. Green information technology (IT) is a sensible solution providing multiple resources and alternatives for day-to-day computer use that could reduce the negative impact on our environment without reducing the effectiveness and capabilities of the technology. This chapter describes the struggle of adoption and provides basic concepts and sustainable solutions of green IT for businesses and individuals.
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Though there is not a general consensus on the exact definition of Green IT (also referred to as green computing, green information and communication technologies (ICT), or ICT sustainability), the most commonly accepted definition was coined by San Murugesan, an outspoken university professor, in his 2008 article entitled “Harnessing Green IT: Principles and Practices”. Murugesan defined green IT as “the study and practice of designing, manufacturing, using and disposing of computers, servers, and associated subsystems… efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment” (Murugesan, 2008). Multiple efforts can be made, both from individual home users as well as those of entire businesses, to reduce the negative impact on the environment from the technology they are using.

The hardware, software, and components that make up technology are always changing and evolving. Some components like computer processors, are gaining the ability to process information faster while the integrated circuits is getting smaller. Other devices gain new features with each new release and make the older model seem outdated or no longer usable. This perception is particularly accurate with personal technology such as laptops, phones, and tablets. Unused excess hardware accumulates in staggering quantities. In the corporate world, technology is advancing faster than the needs of many businesses. Data centers are filled with high-powered servers and storage devices, which run 24/7/365 in a production environment. Attractive and enticing price points combined with clever marketing presentations convince companies that the deployment of these systems is necessary to solve their IT and IS (information systems) problems (Nguyen, Cheriet, Lemay, Reijs, Mackarel, & Pastrama, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

E-Waste: Any old, end-of-life or discarded electronic or electrical devices or their components.

Energy Consumption: Amount of energy consumed in a process or system, or by an individual, organization or country.

Green IT: Green information technology is the practice of environmentally sustainable and responsible use of computers and related resources.

Carbon Footprint: The total amount of greenhouse gas emissions usually expressed in tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Data Center: A physical or virtual infrastructure used to house a large group of networked computer servers for the remote storage, processing, or distribution of large amounts of data.

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