Apr 17 2008

Why Timing is Everything When Going Green

When Going Green, Timing Is Everything

Everybody likes the Earth. It’s hard not to, especially since it’s the place that we all call home. Yet across the business world, green initiatives are rarely a top priority if they negatively impact the bottom line.

Most IT professions are more motivated by delivering cost savings and better-running platforms than they are by the virtues of going green. Yet that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to take eco-friendly initiatives into account when acquiring new technology.

Here are a few opportune times to evaluate energy-efficient computing options:

When a product reaches its end of life. Most businesses upgrade computers on a regular three- or four-year cycle. This is the time to break out the math on power consumption for notebooks versus desktops, LCD versus CRT monitors, and so forth.

At Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin, when the IT department replaced older PCs and monitors, it also installed power-management software on several thousand of its new workstations, which puts PCs and monitors into a low-power sleep mode when they are inactive. The cost savings: 39 percent per PC or about $130,000 per year.

When it makes IT more efficient. Even if there’s funding set aside, IT still must provide a strong business case for any new technology initiative — green or not.

Take virtualization as a case in point. Although there are initial up-front expenses, particularly for new hardware, the ability to capture system snapshots for better disaster recovery and system redundancy and to simplify system reboots, combined with reduced power consumption, have given many school districts a rationale for deploying virtualization.

When school officials ask for it. Upper management is driving a growing number of green initiatives, says Richard Hodges, founder and CEO of GreenIT, a consulting firm on environmentally sustainable information technology. “A lot of organizations either want to appear to be green or are already making significant commitments in being socially and environmentally responsible and reducing greenhouse emissions,” says Hodges. He advises IT staffs to prepare now for answering management’s questions regarding eco-savvy tech options.

If that’s the case at your school district, there’s also a good chance your superintendent or school board has set aside additional funds to make it a priority. Those funds will be needed — although most green initiatives offer cost savings, many also require outlays up front for new equipment or hardware.

Going green for goodness sake isn’t likely. But as our cover story on Page 36, “Save Green by Going Green,” illustrates, sometimes you can save money and the environment at the same time.

Editor in Chief, leecop@cdw.com

Doing the Math

On average, a 17-inch CRT consumes 150 watts in awake mode and 30 watts in sleep mode per hour. According to IBM, its T series flat-panel monitor consumes 30 to 65 watts per hour in awake mode, and just three to four watts per hour while asleep.

1 CRT = (8 hrs. x 150W) + (16 hrs. x 30W) = 1.68kW/24 hrs. = .07kWh
1 LCD = (8 hrs. x 47.5W) + (16 hrs. x 3.5W) = 0.44kW/24 hrs. = .018kWh

An LCD consumes 26 percent of the power of a CRT, which would cut monitor power costs by 74 percent.

—Jeffrey Sheen