Computer Science
Green Information and Communications Technology Strategies


Computer Science
Green Information and Communications Technology Strategies

Unit 2: Technical Strategy and Planning

Seminar: Methods and Tools

Methods and tools can be used in the planning, development, operation, management, and maintenance of systems for energy saving and planning materials use.

Scope and Methodology for Analyzing the Role of ICT in Energy Use

To support estimates of the carbon footprint of ICT and to determine how these estimates may be used to reduce emissions in other sectors by using ICT, the Climate Group provides three appendices for SMART 2020: Enabling the Low Carbon Economy in the Information Age (2008):

  • Appendix 1: Scope, Process and Methodology
  • Appendix 2: The Direct Impact Assumptions
  • Appendix 3: The Enabling Effect Assumptions

The analysis of energy use for ICT uses measures of CO2e emissions, including the following in the ICT sector:

  • personal computers (PCs) and peripherals: workstations, laptops, desktops, and peripherals such as monitors and printers
  • IT services: data centres and their component servers; storage and cooling
  • telecoms networks and devices: network infrastructure components, mobile phones, chargers, broadband routers, and IPTV boxes

The SMART 2020 study excluded consumer electronics in the home, such as television sets, video players, gaming systems, audio devices, and various media players. It also excluded specialized electronic devices (e.g., medical equipment). Regarding assumptions, different assumptions would need to be applied to organizations in specific industry sectors. For example, a developer of games software could not exclude computer games from the analysis, and a hospital could not exclude medical devices.

Staged Study

The Climate Group carried out three phases in its study:

  1. Quantify the global impact of ICT: Models were developed for the direct footprint and the indirect (enabling) opportunities.
  2. In-depth case studies: Emissions reduction opportunities using ICT were developed.
  3. Assessment of imperatives for stakeholders: Workshops were conducted to investigate opportunities and barriers for technology providers, technology users, investors, and regulators.

Direct ICT Impact (Footprint) Methodology

The Climate Group used published estimates of global emissions and penetration rates of ICT devices and infrastructure. Estimates of population growth were then used to calculate future emissions (2020). Data came from public studies, academic literature, industry literature, team experts, consumer surveys, and interviews with external experts. The analysis attempted a “cradle-to-grave” estimate of carbon emissions: manufacture, transport, use, and disposal of equipment.

Embodied carbon: CO2e in the manufacturing of ICT components was calculated from public and company data. Embodied energy in end-of-life treatment (disposal, landfill, and recycling) was included where data was available.

Energy consumption of the components was estimated based on publicly available company data. An emissions factor was used to calculate the carbon emissions from energy consumption. The emissions from electricity generation vary depending on the technology used. The Climate Group divided the world into regions and used a different emissions factor for each region. Transmission losses in the electricity grid were similarly estimated.

Market growth and penetration of devices projected to 2020 was based on industry reports and internal analysis. Growth in use of ICT and general industrial growth is more significant in developing areas of the world than in developed nations.

Enabling Impact Methodology

The Climate Group used a cost curve to identify emissions abatement solutions ranked by cost. The study concentrated on areas where emissions are significant: power, manufacturing, industry, transport, residential buildings, commercial buildings, forestry, agriculture, and waste disposal. ICT applications were then assessed for use in emissions abatement on the cost curve. Four uses for ICT were then selected for detailed analysis.

Direct Impact Assumptions

The Climate Group was undertaking a high-level global analysis, so it used some very general assumptions in its analysis. For example: 20% of desktops are workstations; workstations consume 2.5 times desktop energy in all modes; commercial use of a computer is 14 hours/day; consumer usage is 3 hours/day; there are three types of servers: 200, 500, 6000W/unit. These assumptions are listed in The Enabling Effect Assumptions (Appendix 3) of the report. An organization may use locally developed estimates or actual measures in its analysis, but it may also use the same assumptions to enable a direct comparison.

Enabling Effect Assumptions

The Climate Group made assumptions about the effect ICT could have on other industry areas. For example, it assumed that in the future, online media would replace DVDs and CDs. Assuming that seven billion DVDs and 10 billion CDs are sold globally per year using 1 kg CO2e per CD/DVD, it assumes that all this would be replaced with network delivery of content by 2020. Similarly, producing documents electronically was assumed to reduce paper use by 25%. Organization-based studies should be able to use more accurate estimates or local measures of disk and paper use.

Estimating Power Management Savings for Computers

There are various free tools available to estimate power management savings, for example,

Energy Star Computer Power Management Savings Calculator

EnviProt Computer Power Management

Green Button PC Energy Savings Calculator

EU Energy Star Energy Calculator for PC Equipment


Try one or more of the  tools listed above. Generate data from your own workplace or home. Comment on the results in the General Discussion Forum. Which tool was the most useful? What similar tools are available? Share any tools you find, and tell what you like about them.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 June 2014, 10:32 PM MDT
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