Today's IT organisations need to understand their enterprise¹s corporate social responsibility policies, and interpret how that applies to their activities, in particular to the environmental implications, writes Simon Mingay, research vice-president at Gartner
It still amazes me how many companies needlessly run office equipment, and particularly PCs, 24/7. This will not be seen as acceptable in the future, so don't wait for someone to tell you to change things. Take the initiative and educate users through a communications program. After all, consuming less power will result in cost savings as well as reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
PCs and associated electronic office equipment, such as printers and scanners, consume significant amounts of power when considered collectively. Actual consumption varies from one office to another, depending on equipment density.
As a proportion of the average office power consumption, IT equipment and office equipment will typically constitute 9% to 15% of the total power (desktop PCs and monitors typically represent the biggest single part of that), and consumption is increasing rapidly.
ICT contributes approximately 2% of global CO2 emission, which is equivalent to that of aviation. PCs and monitors make up approximately 39% of ICTs total CO2 emissions. If most people placed their PC and monitor in a low power state or switched them off after hours and made more-aggressive use of power management features, then carbon dioxide emissions and related power costs from the operation of those PCs could be cut by up to 40%.
Unfortunately, the power management settings in most enterprises are disabled or not optimised. Worse still, most enterprise PCs and other associated equipment are left on and running overnight. Turning the equipment off or using a standby mode will not increase failures or reduce the life of the equipment.
Most employees and associates simply take their lead from those around them. If the culture is to leave things on, then they just do what everyone else does. Some basic education and training is sufficient to fix the behavioural issue. It is important to emphasise the need for individual responsibility. However, appointing a team member to conduct a sweep of the office before going home can make a big difference. Similarly, individuals need to be responsible for shared equipment, such as printers and photocopiers.
Obviously, some equipment needs to be left on; however, simple training and labelling can tackle that. For example, problems may arise with network cards and suspend modes, and these issues are often used as excuses to leave equipment on or disable power management. However, many of these issues can be resolved or worked around. They don't justify blanket policies to leave all equipment powered up.
By simply using a low power state and making more-intelligent use of power management features for PCs and associated equipment companies will make a significant difference in IT-related power consumption, emissions and costs.
Gartner advises enterprises to employ more-aggressive power management for electrical office equipment including PCs, monitors, printers and scanners, and to use an appropriate low power state after-hours, especially for PCs and monitors.
By doing this enterprises can achieve significant savings in energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions by shutting down or suspending IT equipment after hours and enforcing the use of power management features. Enterprises should identify current after-hours behaviour and, as appropriate, instruct staff to turn equipment off or more likely place it on a standby status when not in use. In addition, enterprises need to enforce more-aggressive use of power management features.
Here are ten tips to help start the process:
* Calculate office equipment power consumption for each facility or office. In particular, look at after-hours consumption.
* Audit the use of PC power management features and employee behaviour with regard to using a low power state or powering equipment off.
* Have someone walk around the office on a couple of occasions after hours to identify and document what is left on, what's on standby and what's switched off.
* Identify equipment that should not be powered down or placed on standby after hours. However, challenge the reasons for that.
* Calculate the potential cost savings and carbon dioxide reductions by shutting down all other office equipment.
* Educate and encourage employees to understand the importance and benefits of the "right" behaviour. Adjust staff and operating policies to reflect the changes required.
* Clarify to staff the expected power management settings and end-of-day requirements for all. Ensure that everyone understands their personal responsibility to do so. Where appropriate, have the last team member to leave sweep the area to turn off or suspend equipment.
* Pilot and choose aggressive power management settings for desktops, laptops, monitors, printers, scanners and other equipment where power management exists.
* Contemplate running updates during the day, perhaps at lunchtime, or use agents to wake PCs up during the night for the patches to be applied.
* Continually monitor changing behaviours and power consumption and regularly report progress to gain positive reinforcement so that people understand that they are making a difference.