Friday, December 4, 2009

Schlepping our own Stumbling Blocks to Copenhagen

I published this a while back on my Plastisaurus site, but it bears repeating now:
FOR SALE: Fine, furniture-grade Stumbling Blocks, in solid woods and hardwood veneers.
Lovely accessories, add grace to your home, office, or outdoor decor.
Wonderfully inert, useful for stabilizing large piles of objects, as well as for stopping trucks, traffic, good moods, meeting agendas, and relationships. Quite heavy, on-site pickup only. Make offer.
I was inspired by the US quietly increasing its 2020 Carbon Reduction Target from 1990 levels to much higher 2005 levels.

Although there are sure to be plenty of things for our negotiators to sit on, they're schlepping their own Stumbling Blocks all the way to Copenhagen. I can only hope they get damned uncomfortable!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Add IT, Global Telecom Group tells Copenhagen

Pressure mounts for IT inclusion in Copenhagen agreement

Industry steps up lobbying for energy-efficient IT projects to be included in expanded CDM


The IT industry will be mentioned in the draft climate treaty that will form the basis for negotiations at next month's UN summit in Copenhagen, following a successful lobbying campaign from the international body that regulates the IT and telecommunications industry.

The International Telecommunications Union said that the main aim of its push to have IT included in the treaty is to see energy-efficient IT projects included in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) offsetting scheme, or any successor to it.

Read the full article at:

Monday, November 30, 2009

San Jose Data Center now LEED Gold. Any in the East?

Fortune Data Centers Lands LEED Gold Certification, Facebook as Tenant |
Only five such in the US. Any in the Philadelphia region, I wonder?
Where does one go around here to find clean computing?
When it's all virtual, how much does location matter?
Is there an environmental cost if a local firm uses a LEED-certified data center on the West Coast, which means transmitting all its bits and bytes across the continent, an a steady, two-way, 24/7 torrent?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Global Warming?

The image is not as elegant as I'd like, but hopefully you get the idea.

You've probably heard the story that, if you put a frog in a pot of cold water and turn on the burner, it won't realize it's dying until too late.

Whether that story is true or not, it's a fitting image for those who are still denying that climate change is real.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Building a case for Green IT Accreditation and Certification standards in the US

Building the case

Most of my career has been in Information Technology. I have considered myself an environmentalist much longer than that. I am finally crawling out of my cubicle and taking actions that are long overdue.

It's possible to make a strong case for making the greening of IT a central focus of any enterprise sustainability effort. This case will be greatly strengthened, if these two claims can be proven:

  1. Computing is the fastest-growing energy consumer in the world. This includes all the networks, data centers, infrastructure, and devices, both wired, wireless, and cellular, used in all applications everywhere, because they all work through computers.
  2. Greening IT offers the fastest financial payback of any advanced sustainability effort, second only to basic things like turning lights out at night and closing the door to keep the heat/cold out.

Do you know where, or from whom, I can get evidence that confirms, denies, or clarifies these claims?

Two more points to support this case were originated by me. Any input on these would also be appreciated:

  1. As inherent systems thinkers, IT people are ideally suited to step out of our cubicles and take active sustainability leadership. This includes advising and coaching non-ITers to think and act more systemically about the ecosystem and its challenges. We needn’t continue acting like voices in the wilderness.
  2. Green IT is distinct enough to be recognized as a professional discipline, because it encompasses design and use of business processes and applications as well as of hardware and software infrastructure, facilities, power and ventilation systems. As a distinct professional discipline, Green IT will be defined, promoted, managed, and enforced by an independent, not-for-profit organization. This means creating and applying distinct standards and instruments for accrediting qualified professionals, and for certifying business entities, including data centers. More detail on this quest is below.

No Green IT Accreditation in US?

This line of inquiry began with my finding no avenue for becoming accredited as a Green IT professional. Here are the most relevant programs I did find, and the key limitation of each:

  • The Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program provides its member firms a checklist and a framework for moving toward greater sustainability. In most cases this encompasses IT initiatives, but does not provide specific guidance for them. Visit
  • The British Computer Society (BCS) is launching a new qualification for Green IT. The Foundation Certificate in Green IT outlines best practice basics, covers related regulations, policies and legislation in the UK, strategizes techniques, and describes carbon energy accounting. This author does not know whether such a broad agenda makes it the best available model, or just really vague. Visit
  • The US Green Building Council (USGBC) sees Greening IT as a subset of LEED. This makes it an issue of buildings and facilities, and how much power they consume, not how and for what the power is used. IT solutions that reduce energy and increase efficiency, such as virtualization, cloud computing, telecommuting, and teleconferencing do not enter this equation, which leaves GBC out of the running. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Visit

  • The Green Electronics Council created EPEAT certification to help purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes. Component lifecycle, while important, is just one aspect of Green IT. EPEAT stands for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. Visit

  • The MSPAlliance has a program offering Green IT Certification to member Managed Service Providers. While this certification may be useful as a model, it was created to fit the needs of one industry, not all. Visit

Creative Commons License
Building a case for Green IT Accreditation and Certification standards in the US by David Calloway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Green IT: Links to what the big players are doing

I wrote this piece in late July 2009. It's appearing now as a reference for people who attend Celebrate Green IT! in Philadelphia on October 20. Thanks to for a list that inspired this collection.

But those who didn't attend are welcome to use it, too.

What are the big players doing, and how can the not-so-big do it too?

The "low-hanging fruit" of Green IT savings are coming mainly from gains in energy efficiency. Much of this fruit hangs so low it's a hazard to foot traffic, so the assessments that identify it are mostly performed free of charge. The consultant who has the patience, and the pockets, to help one's clients pluck this low-hanging fruit will qualify to pursue the grand prize: a long-term contract to make the business itself operate more efficiently. So says Forrester research in a recent study about what IBM, HP, Accenture, and other big players are moving toward. I've gathered links to several major firms' Green IT and Green Enterprise web sites and white papers here.

See if you can learn their game.

IBM's Green IT portal:
A review of IBM's Smarter Planet and Green Sigma Coalition:

HP / Hewlett Packard:
HP also offers a free copy of Green IT for Dummies! It was written for the UK, but you'll get the idea. It's at

Accenture: Shaping the Green Agenda,
Accenture's Data Center Estimator white paper is at

And, SAP is kind enough to share their Business Case for Sustainability, at



Dow Jones has a Sustainability Index at SAP reports it has topped this list for 3 years running.

A firm called Glasshouse has what they call an Energy Proficiency Impact Analysis: It's more general, and includes

Energy savings for smaller commercial buildings-

Green Initiatives: Hire A Consultant?

Green IT Can Yield Tangible Financial Benefits, But Specialized Expertise Can Facilitate Project Development
Source:, written by Kurt Marko.

This is my commentary on the article, along with some quotes. I wrote this piece in late July 2009, and posted it October 20. A companion piece follows: What the Big Players Are Doing.

The article was published June 13, 2008. What’s happened in the intervening year? Why so little apparent progress?
Might author Kurt Marko have ideas on identifying Green IT initiatives and connections in the Phila area?

The quotes are in san-serif type, and my commentaries are in serif type.

…three major drivers of green IT initiatives are cost savings imperatives (of which power and cooling efficiency are paramount), overall corporate green initiatives, and technology refresh opportunities.

Green may be golden for a new class of IT service providers aiming to capitalize on growing environmental awareness by enterprises, according to a recent study by Forrester Research.

In light of the diverse and fluid nature of green IT and the specialized knowledge outside traditional IT domains it entails, companies pursuing green initiatives are looking to consultants and service providers for help.

Forrester terms this new market “green IT services” and defines it as “consulting services that help enterprise IT organizations reduce their companies’ environmental impact by assessing, planning, and implementing initiatives that make the procurement, operation, and disposal of IT assets more environmentally responsible.” Of course, disposal is just one aspect. IT is trending toward cradle-to-cradle asset lifecycle management, which means that the materials in every product are managed with the intent that they will eventually become part of another product, not end up in a US landfill, or worse, in an off-shore dismantling sweatshop, poisoning foreign children and ecosystems.

…however, there’s a much more quantifiable reason IT departments are going green: power consumption. Increasing server density, coupled with today’s power-hungry quad-core processors, means many data centers are simply running out of electricity.

IT-intensive sectors are ripe for green initiatives. Mines says, “financial services, telecom, and pharma were often cited in our interviews as companies facing limits on growth due to power provisioning, cost, and/or tight real estate in their data centers.

A Green IT Assessment looks much like the technology assessment a systems integrators will typically do for a new or prospective client. According to Forrester’s Mines, a green IT program logically follows three phases: assessment, planning, and implementation. This sequence is illustrated at

Some additional key points from the Processor article about the Forrester research:
1. Assessment services entail creating an overall green IT plan and developing an ROI model.
2. The detailed planning phase aims to identify specific green initiatives from a menu, including equipment procurement, recycling, and reuse to improve data center efficiency. It also can entail positioning IT to support a company’s overall green strategy through such things as telecommuting, building automation, or supply chain optimization.
3. Components of the Implementation phase are not summarized in the article, but are described in some detail.

The conclusion: Given IT’s voracious power demands and its role in equipment procurement and disposal, the greening of IT is a trend that will become more prominent over the next few years.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Celebrate Green IT in Philly October 20!

A Celebration of Green Information Technology


Hosted by the Academy of Natural Sciences Center for Environmental Policy (CEP)

What: Discover your role as a Green IT leader! Enjoy a fun and informative evening with other environmentally-conscious Philadelphia-area IT and technology professionals, welcoming the dawn of environmentally-sustainable IT. Learn how you can bring your passion for the planet to work, to help the environment, your company, and your career.

When: Tuesday, October 20, 2009; reception 6:00 to 6:30; program 6:30 to 8:00 PM

Where: Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Ben Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia. For directions, go to, click Visit, and click Getting Here.

Cost: FREE, but please REGISTER at

Need more information? Contact David Calloway at

How One Local Firm Went Green, Powerfully and Profitably

Joe Tait will present his true Green Information Technology success story What began as a modest initiative to reduce wasted energy at NMS Labs in Willow Grove, PA,. It quickly grew into a company-wide campaign to become more efficient, effective, and cleaner. Instead of resisting, as managers had feared, most employees responded with 'Why didn’t we do this before?'
Joe is the CIO of NMS Labs. Throughout his career, he has built cost-effective, highly-motivated business and IT organizations supporting operations in a range of industries. Joe’s achievements include turning around operations, spearheading start-ups, and integrating IT functions after mergers.

Green IT vs. Climate Change by Quiet Riot

The performance troupe Quiet Riot, a.k.a. Bill and Dave Mettler, will take a 4 billion year joyride through the History of Oil, bringing us to our present twin challenges: Peak Oil & Climate Change. You will discover your role as a Green IT leader and learn of best practices you can take back to your organization to reduce carbon and save the world!

Quiet Riot use story, physical comedy, sound effects, and audience interaction. Their programs captivate audiences nationally at conferences, seminars, and workshops, and recently at events for Green Business, Eco-Economy, Transition Communities, and Peak Oil awareness.

About CEP and Green IT

CEP provides a non-partisan, science-based forum for public and private environmental stakeholders. Building upon its successful Town Square series and special events, CEP brings important environmental issues to the forefront.

Green Information/IT primarily means:

  • Using IT to reduce negative environmental impacts of business activities by helping organizations and enterprises operate and interact more efficiently and effectively
  • Reducing IT’s negative environmental impact by managing equipment and processes to reduce the resources needed, and ensuring safe disposal and re-use
  • Increasing business effectiveness, morale, and sense of community, while cutting costs

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What are Smart Systems, briefly?

Smart systems are the monitors, feedback loops, automated processes, and networks that enable the system to respond effectively in real time to changing conditions and events. The responses may be guided by people using dashboards, or by the systems themselves, applying complex analytical logic and input from a vast array of sources. The network for a geographically distributed system is usually the Internet. It could also be a wireless cellular network, or a wireless or wired local network. Electric companies would like to see their Smart Grids used to link smart systems together.

Wikipedia defines a smart system as a device, but it's really the whole-- system.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Smart Grid to dwarf the Internet"- Is Cisco Exec Kidding?

Cisco predicts Smart Grid to dwarf the Internet. June 25, 2009 by Chris Morsella in Green Economy Post's Smart Grid.

Well, this turned out to be more of a ranting commentary than a summary of the article that inspired the rant. So, since I call this blog a Digest, here's the summary:
  • Basically, the article is summarized in its subtitle, "The Keystone of the Smart Grid is Real-Time Information and Making Good Use of It".

  • The author reports that Marie Hattar, vice president of marketing in Cisco’s Network Systems Solutions group, told Martin LaMonica, Senior Writer at Cnet, that “Our expectation is that this network (the Smart Grid) will be 100 or 1,000 times larger than the Internet."

  • Big Tech firms like Microsoft, IBM, Google, and Cisco are launching and buying start-ups to create and run the Smart Grid. This market is filled with things familiar to IT people, such as "end-to-end communications networking, data gathering, (and) mining and decision making."
My bone to pick is with the direction most of the Smart Grid money seems to be going. I'm hoping Hattar of Cisco's prediction is as off-target as that of her boss CEO John Chambers, who foresaw that "e-Learning will make email look like a rounding error." I do e-Learning, and it has indeed done well, and saves increasing millions of tons of carbon due to reduced training-related travel. But it's e-learning that has remained the rounding error compared to e-mail, not vice-versa.

If we're lucky, the smart-grid-that-rules-all-things prediction won't pan out, either.

Is it a sacrilege for an environmentalist and clean energy advocate to say such a thing?
Not if we look at the trends. Today, increasing efficiency usually means creating things closer to where they are used. This includes electricity. And, localized production of electricity is cheaper than ever, and getting cheaper. By contrast, the cost of moving large amounts of electricity long distances is going to go up, not down. That's because of the major infrastructure overhaul that it will take to make it possible.

The Department of Energy seems to be bucking this trend by supporting the big utilities in their hundred-plus year campaign to make sure most of our electricity is shipped in from somewhere far away. Electricity is like any commodity, in that shipping a long distance eats up a lot of the value it started out with. But with electricity, it shows up at the end of the pipe: what comes out is a lot less than what went in.

Producing electricity in mega-quantities may be a lot less expensive per megawatt than producing it, say on a county, municipality, or even neighborhood level. But, once you add up the costs of transportation, infrastructure, maintenance, and environmental degradation, it looks like not such a good bargain.

As Morsella points out, the utilities have kept power flowing to us, reliably and admirably, for longer than any of us have been alive. But, how progressive have they been? We can thank for that reliability the generations of in-the-box thinking of conservative managers, to whom "out of the box" would be tantamount to "out of control." This reliability has come at the cost of stodgy (not stogie, they're passe', even in utility boardrooms) policies and procedures. Continuing to follow this path, however much we improve it with real-time information dashboards and feedback mechanisms, exposes us increasingly to big-project cost overruns, systems that become obsolete long before they've been paid off, or even completed, and the security risks inherent in enormous, complex systems that nobody understands, but everybody depends on.

Remember "Too Big To Fail"? That was just earlier this year, folks, and it's not limited to financial institutions. There, too, managers jumped too fast from a slow-moving freight train onto a lightning-fast Acela without knowing where it was going, or how to work the controls when it veered onto a dead-end siding that ended in a neighborhood densely populated with policyholders, shareholders, and taxpayers. The result has not been pretty.

Big systems, old thinking. The Obama DOE still seems populated by the old, centralized command-and-control thinking of the big utilities. They want to spend many, many billions to upgrade the old electric highway, and create centralized, large-scale solutions such as hundred-acre solar arrays and hundred-turbine wind farms. A big part of that investment should go to improving energy efficiency, and supporting thousands of local power-generation initiatives. Energy sources that are interdependent— neither independent, nor dependent— will be most able to withstand disasters both natural and unnatural, such as terroristic threats. For more on that, see

We have an effective model of interdependent cooperation. Fortunately, most of the Smart Grid solutions being developed will adapt easily to more localized implementations, maybe even making them more feasible. One place where a million little safeguards interface with a large centralized system is in the networked personal computer. Security is built into the software, at all the end points and at every point in between. It's not perfect, but it draws on the dedication and ingenuity of tens of thousands of dedicated volunteers to quidkly identify and neutralize most security threats, keeping most from getting out of hand.

The smart grid can replicate that model, but it will need to be considerably more robust. At the sign of a major threat, it must be able to break itself into thousands of independent sub-systems, running smoothly on their own until the threat passes. On the internet, instant contact with anywhere is vital. We don't need that level of connectivity for our electricity, we just need to get it from somewhere.

What's this mean to people in IT?
It was a painful adjustment for IT folks when the era of centralized mainframe control ended, and decentralized minicomputing took off. But, we adjusted. And we adjusted again, however painfully, to the teeming onslaught of personal computers, and again when those PCs united into the mighty Vox Populi Commercia of the World Wide Web. We're adjusting again to new business realities; indeed, many of us are among the rabble storming the Bastille of Business As Usual. So we're no strangers to change and increasing decentralization. In fact, many of us are leading it. So who's best qualified to usher in the dawn of the Smart Grid? The utilities, or us?

Green IT Back on the Rise? from Biz-Tech 3.0

Green IT Back on the Rise?
Aug 19, 2009, in Biz-Tech 3.0, in CIO Insight Blogs.
Biz-Tech 3.0 blogger Brian Watson has been tracking Green IT for much of its on-again, off again way. He now feels it's reaching critical mass to become part of the landscape, something every self-respecting CIO has to at least be pretending to do something about. Of course, if they really know about it, they're already working with the CFO to make it real throughout not just their enterprise, but their supply chain.

The last person a CIO wants to hear about Green IT from is the CFO. (That line's from me, not from the article.) For the past three years, most green initiatives were extensions of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) campaigns, driven by Directors and CEOs. Now, the CFO grapevine is buzzing about the cost savings and efficiency gains of Green IT. CFOs are jumping onto that shiny new, solar-powered bandwagon. And that means Green IT is not just on the rise, it's here to stay.

My observation: How far can this CIO interest go, when 70% of CIOs don't pay their own electric bills? As much as they may want to reduce energy consumption, untill it's in their measurable objectives, how much can they really do?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

eWeek links on Green IT and Green Computing

eWeek has a section for Green IT and Green Computing. Here are the links, with my brief review and commentary for each. These aren't comprehensive, they're just the ones that jumped out at me.

The Business Case for Sustainable IT . Solution providers can make a compelling case for green IT to small and midsized businesses. Referencing Forrester's Christopher Mines' 2008 study, Going Green goes hand in hand with increasing efficiency and effectiveness of both the IT function and the enterprise as a whole. Generally, activities that are environmentally unfriendly are often also ineffective or obsolete.

Are Solution Providers, VARs and IT Consultants Ready for Environmental Certific
A Gartner study points out that most solution providers can claim only the energy efficiency of the products and solutions they sell. Within a few years, Green IT certification standards will expand to include the environmental friendliness of full supply chain and lifecycle management and business practices, as well as stringent energy reductions.

From IBM:
This December 2008 white paper frames Green IT within the context of business process transformation, summarizes some IBM initiatives, and hints at ways IBM can help their customers go green. As author Ellen Johnson concludes, "Green is the new Black."

From eWeek:
IBM, CalTech Use DNA for Future Microchips
What's the connection? Processors today use an immense amount of energy. And, although they're made in spotless "clean rooms", making them is a dirty, toxic business. This article describes a way to work with nature to make processors immensely smaller and more powerful, yet be cleaner to create and operate.

5 Steps to Green IT

Oh, this is scary. Although it doesn't come out and list the 5 steps, it does bring a lot of attention to e-waste and energy consumption. Mountains of computers and cell phones still go into our municipal solid waste stream, and they're just about the most toxic stuff in there. To quote the article: "More than 1,000 chemicals used during electronics production, such as lead, mercury and cadmium, have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and other illnesses."

Top 10 Resources for Green IT
. ...
Lists resources for the Small Business Owner. These are:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hosted Services Go Green, Save Green


Hosted Services bring cleaner air and a cleaner planet. Having your own data center is not only expensive, it presents a host of environmental problems. Hosted services, says Scott Kinka of Evolve IP (, can avoid a wide range of costs and environmental challenges.

A data center consumes a lot of energy, and creates a large carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is “the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product,” Kinka quotes from the UK Carbon Trust 2008. If you use a lot of computers, powering and cooling them make up a big chunk of your organization’s total carbon footprint.

Most firms cram their servers into a spare closet in an office building, and buy lots more expensive, dirty energy trying to keep them running cool. In a few years all that expensive equipment gets obsolete. It then becomes just another tangle of un-bio-degradable scrap in a landfill, maybe leaking mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and a plethora of other toxins into somebody's groundwater. And at every step, it spawns a minefield of potential liabilities, as regulators seek to make us more responsible for cleaning up after ourselves.

To summarize the points in his May '09 Tech Times article:
  • The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of any technology solution includes not just the hardware and software, but the maintenance staff and fees, power, and environmental support for the equipment itself, as well as isolating the impact it has on nearby "wetware"; i.e., humans.

  • One typical digital PBX (phone system) server consumes roughly 700 watts of power. Since that's almost as much energy as running a small space heater, a toaster, or seven 100 watt light bulbs, it generates a lot of heat that must be removed into the atmosphere, further increasing the global warming effect. And of course, what's a phone server without a voice and email server, file server, and several routers, each running at several hundred watts?

  • A shared facility is optimized to bring servers on- and off-line quickly, as demand changes. Many more applications can run on far fewer servers. (In another source, I found that a single-application server typically runs at one tenth of its capacity.)
My Questions:
  1. I’ve read that 10% is typical for an application server in a corporate data center. How much energy would a server running at 10% capacity consume, and heat produce? What percent would optimal capacity be? It would be helpful to see studies that compare and illustrate various cases. I’d guess that shared servers in a corporate data center are a bit better optimized. Do utilization rates compare to a hosted center?
  2. At what scale does it make sense to consider moving to a hosted solution? This could be either in terms of benefit:cost ratio (revenue available, earnings at risk) or as a measure of operational and infrastructural overhead.
  3. At the other end, at what point does a firm tend to exit the hosted solution, and build its own data center/server farm? And, what cost and risk factors are most likely to be ignored in this process?

IBM duo slashing power use at data centers


Data centers are those mysterious buildings loaded with electronic machinery and mostly devoid of people. In 2006, data centers consumed 1.5 percent of all the power produced in the United States. Three years have passed, and their numbers have only grown, along with their energy consumption.

All that energy is expensive and dirty, and IBM's Project Big Green is working to reduce it. Last year, the firm's Gerstner Award for Client Excellence went to Chris Molloy and Mike Hogan for helping the firm and its clients diminish their collective carbon footprint.