Dell Declares Carbon Neutrality
Published: October 3, 2007
by Alex Woodie
Dell last week declared that it's the first major computer company to become "carbon neutral," meaning it takes steps to offset all emissions of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide generated during the course of its business.
Dell is one of several computer manufacturers that have stepped up efforts in recent years to reduce the impact that their businesses and their products have on the earth's environment. While computers provide great benefits to people in the form of technological innovation and automation, unfortunately the building and running of computers can have a pretty sizable impact on the environment, especially in terms of the toxic and often nonrecyclable materials used to build the computers, and the massive amounts of energy used to power them.
For whatever reason--whether altruism to environmental causes on the part of Michael Dell, the company's founder and chairman, or the fact that being green is currently the trendy thing to do--Dell has made real steps toward its goal of being an environmentally sensitive company.
According to the company, 10 percent of the energy needs for its headquarters in Austin, Texas, come from renewable energy sources, such as wind power. The company says it will offset the emissions impact of the remaining energy that it can't get from renewable sources, and that it will monitor the projects it invests its money in to be sure of their long-term viability and that the carbon savings are real.
The company has taken several other steps to reduce its energy consumption at its offices, factories, and warehouses, including: automatically turning off computers at night and when they're not active; replacing office lighting with high-efficiency lighting systems; using more insulation to reduce the need for heating and air-conditioning; and using energy-efficient LCD monitors at workstations instead of energy-hungry CRT monitors.
Not only has Dell caught the green bug, but it's passing it on to its suppliers. In June, the company began asking its partners to make changes to their businesses, such as requiring trucking firms that distribute their products to start using biodiesel fuel sources within a year, and requiring their partners to repair any vehicles with unacceptable levels of emission within 10 days. Obviously, as any good channel-master would do, Dell is instituting penalties for those partners who don't meet these requirements, but the company isn't saying what they are.
Dell is also striving to make computers that are more energy efficient, which is probably the single most effective thing the company can do to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses. The company boasts that its latest OptiPlex model consumes up to 70 percent less power than previous generations. It also shipped a version of its PowerEdge server in December that boasted a 25 percent decrease in power consumption. These savings are generated through the use of several techniques, including the use of energy-efficient chips, smaller disk drives also cuts power consumption, and most importantly, Dell's "Energy Smart" power management software, which slows down the CPUs when workloads decrease, or even turn off the computers or put them in standby mode.
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