The Intel-backed Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) program is now active in Australia, but participating vendors concede the hardest work still lies ahead as the green-focused consortium pursues the program's goal of slashing Australia's IT-related greenhouse emissions by 50 per cent in the next two years.
"Once we push on the green aspect of a proposal, many customers think 'OK, here comes the upsell'," said Otto Ruettinger, business manager for desktops and notebooks with Lenovo Australia-New Zealand. "It has been quite difficult to get over that hurdle."
CSCI proponents conceded that introducing more environmentally-sound IT gear will cost customers in the short term — an estimated AU$20 per PC and AU$30 per server, according to Lori Wigel, global leader of Intel's Eco-Technology effort and president of the CSCI.
However, she said, attendant reductions in electricity consumption will recover those costs in a year or less and reduce long-term usage, making a business case that is rapidly becoming clearer and clearer to the general business community.
CSCI first emerged last year in the US and is now active in Australia with the backing of Intel, Dell, Lenovo, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), and consulting giants CSC and EDS, which are among the many IT firms actively pursuing environmentally-friendly computing policies.
All were joined by Victorian ICT minister Theo Theophanous in a show of support for the initiative to coincide with the opening of this week's inaugural Going Green Expo in Melbourne.
Theophanous sees environmental benefits coming through a two-pronged approach — the purchasing of more energy-efficient hardware and a change in users' behaviour — and both are being targeted as an increasingly environmentally aware government and business community that takes concrete steps to cut IT-related emissions.
Gartner has estimated that the IT industry accounts for approximately two per cent of global CO2 emissions, with datacentres alone generating 1.5 per cent of greenhouse gases every year. Yet while datacentre experts pursue a variety of options to reduce datacentre power consumption, even small actions can make a big difference at the end-user side.
Simply switching off the screen saver option, and instead setting the computer to turn off the monitor after a set period of time, can cut the average PC's power consumption by 60 per cent, Wigel said — yet 90 per cent of companies still don't use power management technologies. "Notebook users are used to [being careful with power] to conserve battery life," she explained, "but desktop users assume that if the PC is plugged in, they don't need to worry about it."
ANZ Bank and Telstra have already disabled screen savers in favour of options that turn off computer monitors after a period without usage. Telstra, for one, estimates that this simple action will reduce its carbon footprint by 646 tonnes of CO2 annually.
CSCI has targeted a 50 per cent improvement in computer efficiency by 2010, which Intel says would save more than US$5.5 billion in related energy costs.