Green-IT – what does that mean?

By Green-IT the resource-conserving use of information- and communication technologies (IKT) throughout the entire lifecycle is meant - from the production to the utilization and the disposal. The largest consumption of resources in the form of electricity results thereby from the operation of IKT-devices, especially computers, computing centers and servers.

Due to the growing importance of information- and communication technology within social life and economy, be it through Cloud-computing, online-offers by the entertainment industry, the possibilities of communication and networking by social media services or the general increase of digitalization and the provision of information, the need for information technologies increases. This means a constant increase regarding power requirement and CO2 emissions.

Some figures that illustrate this:

  • The IKT causes approximately 2-3% of the carbon dioxide emission worldwide, an amount that exceeds the emissions of the whole aviation (BMU/UBA/BITKOM-annual conference 2010).
  • According to a Fraunhofer-study that was produced on behalf of the Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Technologie (BMWi), the percentage of the IKT regarding the German total electricity consumption in 2007 was 10,5%. According to the Umweltbundesamt (UBA) 33 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)-emissions were thereby caused. By the year 2020, an increase of power consumption of 20% is predicted.
  • The PC-market develops worldwide with an annual growth of just under 12% (IT- Market Research and Consulting Firm Gartner) still rapidly. Especially due to the steady increase regarding the IKT-infrastructures (servers and computing centers) and the resulting cooling demand, power consumption, and thereby the environmental burden, remain at a very high level.

Green-IT is an important issue for business success: by increasing raw material and energy prices production costs and product prices are increased as well, which leads to an adverse effect on competiveness. The application of energy- and resource-sparing IKT structures does thus contribute significantly to economic growth and the safeguarding of jobs.

Green within IT: ways to reduce electricity within the IT

There are definitely optimization possibilities: a lot of server systems are laid out for peak loads and are thereby most of the time only utilized to a small percentage of approximately 10-20%. This can be optimized by a conversion of systems and a corresponding reduction of computing centers and servers. A virtualization may also contribute to better capacity utilization. The cooling systems running in computing centers should be reviewed regarding energy efficiency and, if necessary, be improved or replaced. And finally, there is improvement potential by using economical IKT-devices at workplaces. Here you will find further information regarding "Green within IT".

Green through IT

The IKT can, on the other side, also contribute to environmental welfare and higher energy efficiency of other industries, for example by an energy efficient control of production processes and whole supply chains through intelligent and innovative IT-systems. Thereby energy- CO2 saving potentials become accessible that may exceed the emissions of the IKT-industry itself by about eight times. This indirect effect of IKT is also called „Green through IT“. Especially regarding the sectors facility management, traffic and logistics, there are large potentials.

„Green through IT“ can also be  implemented relatively easy on the small scale in every business, for example by using as little paper as possible and instead sending e-bills, the use of e-documents or by telephone- and video conferences that may partly replace business trips. For further tips regarding power- and energy saving, click here.

Why is the implementation of Green IT so difficult?

A current study, „Green Business – IT als Innovationstreiber für Nachhaltigkeit“, carried out by the Hightech-Association BITKOM together with the management consulting firm BearingPoint, showed that indeed 75% of the businesses want to make greater efforts regarding the establishment of Green-IT in the next 3 years, but that, on the one hand, often financial resources and, on the other hand, strategic approaches and the appointment of persons in charge for this project within the business are lacking. This indicates a lot of information deficits and insecurity in dealing with this issue. There are, however, a great number of consultancy- and support possibilities. The Green-IT Beratungsbüro at the BITKOM e.V. does, for example, provide information.

Further links regarding this topic:

• Förderprogramme des Bundesumweltministeriums
• Klimschutzinitiative des Bundesumweltministeriums
• Technologieprogramm IT2Green des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Technologie