Green computing is the environmentally responsible use of computers and related resources. Such practices include the implementation of energy-efficient central processing units (CPUs), servers and peripherals as well as reduced resource consumption and proper disposal of electronic waste (e-waste).
One of the earliest initiatives toward green computing in the United States was the voluntary labeling program known as Energy Star. It was conceived by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992 to promote energy efficiency in hardware of all kinds. The Energy Star label became a common sight, especially in notebook computers and displays. Similar programs have been adopted in Europe and Asia.
Government regulation, however well-intentioned, is only part of an overall green computing philosophy. The work habits of computer users and businesses can be modified to minimize adverse impact on the global environment. Here are some steps that can be taken:
- Power-down the CPU and all peripherals during extended periods of inactivity.
- Try to do computer-related tasks during contiguous, intensive blocks of time, leaving hardware off at other times.
- Power-up and power-down energy-intensive peripherals such as laser printers according to need.
- Use liquid-crystal-display (LCD) monitors rather than cathode-ray-tube (CRT) monitors.
- Use notebook computers rather than desktop computers whenever possible.
- Use the power-management features to turn off hard drives and displays after several minutes of inactivity.
- Minimize the use of paper and properly recycle waste paper.
- Dispose of e-waste according to federal, state and local regulations.
- Employ alternative energy sources for computing workstations, servers, networks and data centers.