Green Computing

clock • 7 min read

Signing up to our Green Computing Charter will help to reduce IT operating costs and benefit the environment

Green Computing logo

Computing's Green Computing campaign aims to raise awareness of environmental issues in IT departments and in doing so, to reduce business costs and improve efficiency.

With power costs rocketing and electricity supplies becoming increasingly unpredictable, IT departments need to look at new ways of working.

At the heart of Green Computing is a seven point charter designed to provide chief information officers (CIOs) and IT managers with environmental goals that can be applied to their business.

The charter is a set of guidelines for IT organisations to improve their green credentials and reduce costs:

1. Find out how much energy your IT systems use and monitor ongoing consumption levels.

2. Ensure unused equipment is turned off when it is not being used.

3. Educate staff to the benefits of saving energy and recycling.

4. Establish a code of practice designed to minimise unnecessary printing.

5. Identify IT management practices that reduce power consumption.

6. When purchasing new IT equipment, choose energy-saving devices that have been manufactured in an environmentally-conscious fashion.

7. Dispose of old hardware responsibly; send old PCs to be reconditioned and recycled.

If you want to sign-up to the charter email us at:


Some of the UK's leading companies and organisations have already signed up to the Green Computing Charter:

Peter Brickley, chief information officer, Centrica: I fully support Computing's Green Charter. At Centrica we recognise the environmental and commercial benefits of taking a proactive approach to reducing our environmental impact. Involving our employees and suppliers helps us to meet our environmental goals.

Darryl West, director of group IT, Lloyds TSB: I am delighted to support the ethos of Green Computing and to encourage people to cut down on waste and to re-use and recycle whenever possible. We do consider ourselves to be a socially responsible company, but Lloyds TSB Group IT will help take the lead on this and focus on extra measures we can all put into practice. We all have a duty to make sure we use energy wisely and dispose of hardware and consumables properly.

And other organisations are backing the Green Computing campaign:

Malcolm Wicks, Energy Minister, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI): We welcome this initiative. As the DTI made clear in The Energy Review, the government believes that all sectors of society need to be involved in reducing the amount of energy we waste, and so helping to reduce the UK's greenhouse gas emissions. In many cases, some small changes will actually save businesses money, so they should be welcomed by all. This campaign is therefore very timely.

Ross Taylor, managing director, E.ON Information Services UK: E.ON has very strong beliefs, led by the chief executive, to meet low carbon objectives. In particular, as a company we think firms should be putting their efforts into teaching staff to take personal responsibility for the energy we use, so that we can all have an impact on this. It should not just be something for the technical architects. I think the charter is a great idea.

David Roberts, chief executive of user group the Corporate IT Forum: The current cost of energy and the demand for energy to run computers is colossal and growing and as computers become more pervasive we will only need more power rather than less. Doing something to flag consumption is a good green thing to do. It would be inappropriate to pretend that the IT community is not consuming more than its fair share of electricity.

John Suffolk, Government CIO: The IT community must play its part in ensuring sustainable development. That means not only in moving to new, more energy efficient technologies - such as thin client and virtualisation, which have the potential to reduce energy costs - as well as other costs - dramatically, but also using information to allow people and businesses to operate in more sustainable ways.

Catherine Doran, director of information management, Network Rail: Network Rail continually monitors the environmental impact of all its activities – from day-to-day work undertaken trackside to processes in the office environment. The Green Computing Charter outlines many points that our information management team at Network Rail are already implementing.

Stephen Meredith, business improvement and technology HSE manager, EDF Energy: EDF Energy is fully committed towards a sustainable future. Sustainability is something affecting the whole of the business, and this includes IT. As part of this, we are deve loping a Sustainable Futures strategy which encompasses a range of activities from our environmentally-friendly IT equipment disposal policy (kit recycling, with none going to landfill), to defaulting printers to print double-sided as part of our greener printing policy.

David Brown, IT and facilities general manager, Scottish Water: Scottish Water already encourages sensible computer use and dispose of old hardware responsibly. However, we want to do more and we fully intend to extend our commitment to energy saving equipment and practices in the near future. We welcome this Green Charter campaign as it fits perfectly with Scottish Water's long term vision of contributing to a healthy and vibrant environment for everyone to enjoy.

Martin Horwood MP, Liberal Democrat environment spokesman: It is a very timely initiative and can build on the efforts already being made by the computing industry to really turn computing green.

Geraint Day, head of health, environment and transport policy, Institute of Directors (IoD): It's great that Computing is addressing the environmental issues related to the computing industry. We at the IoD encourage our 52,000 members to take account of resource efficiency issues in their enterprises and the feedback we've had from members illustrates that there is a great deal of willingness to support and engage in environmental initiatives.

Nick Monger-Godfrey, head of corporate responsibility, John Lewis Partnership: Waitrose and John Lewis actively promote energy-saving initiatives. For example, a Partnership-wide energy awareness campaign, 'Save Energy, Share the Savings', was launched in 2005 to help save energy. Our IT department's awareness of environmental factors helps determine the decisions we make.

Cost Savings

But the Green Computing campaign is about more just than the worthwhile goal of making a contribution to reducing the threat of global warming and environmental damage.

The real impact is financial.

According to the Carbon Trust, a PC left on all day will cost about £37 a year. But if switched off at night and at weekends, this drops to nearer £10 a year and saves an equivalent amount of energy to making 34,900 cups of coffee. That is one PC.

Office equipment is the fastest growing area of energy use, currently accounting for up to 20 per cent of total output.

And that does not even take into account the increasing cost of air conditioning as more and more powerful processors are squeezed into ever-smaller spaces.

Green computing is simply best practice computing.

To sign-up to the charter email us at: [email protected]

Further reading:

How IT can reduce its power use - reducing energy consumption and cutting carbon emissions

Firms must not paper over the cracks - saving money by minimising paper use

Put staff on a green learning curve - how firms can encourage employees to be more environmentally aware

Podcast: The Business Case for Green Computing - We discuss the business benefits of environmentally-aware IT, and talks to leading IT managers about their plans

Get switched about switching off

HSBC switches to green computing

Constraints prompt firms to track IT energy consumption

We launch Green Computing campaign

It’s our duty to save energy

Momentum builds behind our gre en campaign

Constraints prompt firms to track IT energy consumption

IT can lead the green revolut ion

The eco-friendly way to meet

How to curb IT's hunger for power

Energy costs force server rethink

Energy must not cost the earth

Can electricity supplies keep up with growing server demand?

Power shortage hits IT

WEEE Directive to become law next year

Our PCs, our planet

Donate your old PCs to our Computer Aid appeal

Readers pledge 15,000 PCs to Computer Aid

Give your old PCs a new life

Computer Aid helping to change lives in Africa

Old PCs get a new lease of life in developing world

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