Volume 4, Number 13 -- April 4, 2007

Computer Makers Tout Ways to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions, Save Money

Published: April 4, 2007

by Alex Woodie

Replacing PCs with thin clients is on the minds of a lot of IT managers these days. But did you know that adopting thin clients can also have a positive impact on the environment? According to a report issued this week by thin client manufacturer IGEL Technology and the Fraunhofer Institute, adopting thin client computers not only saves money, but can also help reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, Microsoft is also laying claim to the "green" label for work it's done in its new Windows Vista operating system.

According to the new report from IGEL and the Fraunhofer Institute, British business that switch from PCs to thin clients will save 78 million (or about $154 million in U.S. currency) in electricity bills and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 485,000 metric tons (or about 1 billion pounds using the English system favored by Americans) per year.

The savings are the result of thin clients consuming about half the energy of conventional PCs, says Hartmut Pflaum, the researcher with Fraunhofer, an international group, based in Germany, dedicated to finding practical answers to issues facing industry, utilities, and governments. "While PCs consume about 85 watts on average, thin clients, including their server, get by with 40 to 50 watts. In view of climate change and the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, this is an important factor," Pflaum says.

While the financial savings are significant, the impact on cutting carbon dioxide emissions is even more impressive, says Stephen Yeo, IGEL's strategic director of worldwide marketing. "Saving 485,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions would remove the equivalent impact of 85,000 average UK households each year," he says.

The new Windows Vista operating system is also a relative miser when it comes to energy consumption, although these gains are tempered somewhat by the dual-core processors, added graphics cards, and additional memory common in Vista-grade machines.

With the new "sleep" function in Vista, a PC is automatically entered into a low-energy state (two to three watts) when it hasn't been used for an hour. When the user is ready to resume working with the computer, the machine comes back up to its normal state much faster than computers using the old "standby" and "hibernate" modes used in previous versions of Windows.

Microsoft also commissioned a study that looked at the energy consumption of Windows Vista versus Windows XP, and found that Vista's new power management features could help reduce the carbon dioxide generated in an organization equal to 45 metric tons per year for a 200-seat business, and save users up to 46 per desktop PC per year.

Microsoft worked with the National Resource Defense Council and the Environmental Protection Agency to sculpt Vista's energy management functions. Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist, says Americans can go green, too.

"If the majority of U.S. computer owners take advantage of the enhanced energy saving features in Windows Vista, we could easily cut our nation's electric bill by about $500 million per year, and prevent 3 million tons of global warming pollution from being emitted from electric power plants," Horowitz says. "This is the equivalent to preventing the pollution from 390,000 cars--approximately the number of cars in the city of Seattle."

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Editor: Alex Woodie
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
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