2. Research

Here we provide a variety of references to resources that range from the inspiring TED talks to highly detailed and specific papers on green computing. Our emphasis in selecting these resource is two-fold: developing low-carbon technology is a huge area of endeavour and there are many exciting projects emerging (2) IT professionals have a very important role in developing solutions, and green desktop computing (office and personal computing) can be achieved today.

Many groups have already achieved significant results but the lesson is clear: the problem is not as simple as it might first appear. Green desktop computing has often been cited as low-hanging fruit in terms of energy reduction. We suspect this assertion came about before people actually tried to tackle the problem in a realistic and complex IT environment. The main problem being that in the end in most situations power management is the responsibility of large numbers of individuals who have not typically had to change the way they work to consider energy consumption.

  1. The environmental debate has traditionally been characterised as a conflict between economic progress and preservation of the planet. Most TED speakers, insist that we can have both provided we're smart.
  2. Embodied energy is very difficult to calculate accurately due to the complexities of supply chains, and it is not the only consideration when trying to quantify the social and environmental effects of the full life-cycle of the stuff we consume. (We can also consider the impact of mining on local communities and the landscape, and the utility we gain from the particular tool). However the Embodied Energy Database, maintained by the team at http://www.wattzon.com/about provides a good start to quantifying the total environmental effects of things we use.
  3. HEFCE Carbon Management Strategy, published January 2010. The key message being: " From 2011, HEFCE capital allocations will be linked to carbon reduction. Higher education institutions (HEIs) in England are required to develop individual carbon reduction strategies, targets and associated carbon management plans."
  4. Green Desktop Computing at the University of Oxford, by Howard Noble, Kang Tang and Daniel Curtis, 2009. A summary of the findings from the Low-Carbon ICT project.
  5. Low carbon computing: a view to 2050 and beyond, by Paul Anderson, Gaynor Backhouse, Daniel Curtis, Simon Redding, David Wallom, November 2009. A comprehensive and detailed account of the considerations IT professionals will need to make when designing 'green' IT infrastructures for the future.
  6. Sustainable Energy - without the hot air, David JC MacKay. Chapters 11, 15 and 22 are the most relevant with respect to low-carbon computing.
  7. Sustainable ICT in Further and Higher Education, P. James and Lisa Hopkinson. Provides a comprehensive summary of all the issues pertinent to building and maintaining low-carbon computing infrastructures
  8. The PowerDown project at Liverpool University is an excellent practical guide to achieving significant energy savings with minimal effort. The approach described is being used at many Universities including the Centre for the Environment at Oxford.
  9. Energy Star provide a good guide to the issues and provide information about solutions on the Activating power management features in enterprises web page. The Energy Star website also provides guidance for people looking to buy more efficient computing equipment.
  10. "Energy Intensity of Computer Manufacturing: Hybrid Assessment Combining Process and Economic Input-Output Methods", Eric Williams, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2004, 38, 6166-6174. This paper provides an in-depth analysis of the methodologies used to calculate the 'embodied energy' associated with computing equipment.
  11. Oxford central machine room report written by Ramonet LTD, and commissioned by the University looking at ensuring the planned 'machine room' (data centre) is built to high sustainability standards, with respect to cost and in-use greenhouse gas emissions.
  12. Insomniac PCs An article about power management published for British Computer Society.

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