Technology Firms, Environmental Groups Launch Green-computer Initiative

Internet search giant Google and computer chip maker Intel, along with a coalition of technology companies and environmental groups, launched an initiative to make the world's computers more energy-efficient.

Under the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, announced on June 12, the coalition will seek the establishment of aggressive new targets for energy-efficient computers and components, and promote the adoption of energy-efficient computers and power-management tools worldwide.

"Today, the average desktop PC wastes nearly half of its power, and the average server wastes one-third of its power," said Urs Holzle, senior vice president, operations, Google Inc. "The Climate Savers Computing Initiative is setting a new 90 percent efficiency target for power supplies, which if achieved, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons per year -- and save more than $5.5 billion in energy costs."

Holzle stated that the coalition is asking businesses and people throughout the world to help the initiative to institute better power management of their computing equipment and purchase energy-efficient computers.

Initial companies that intend to participate in the initiative represent both the demand and supply side of the computer industry, including computer manufacturers and chip makers, as well as environmental groups, energy companies, retailers, government agencies and more. The group will formalize its membership in the coming weeks.

"By 2010, the Climate Savers Computing Initiative will cut greenhouse-gas emissions in an amount equal to removing more than 11 million cars from the road or shutting down 20 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants -- a significant step in reducing the emissions affecting our planet," said Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group.

Computer and computer component manufacturers that support the initiative are committed to building energy-efficient products that meet or surpass the EPA's Energy Star guidelines. Businesses also must commit to requiring high-efficiency systems for the majority of their corporate desktop PCs and volume server purchases, and to deploy and use power management tools on desktop PCs.

Consumers also can support the Climate Savers Computing Initiative by signing up at http://www.climatesaverscomputing.org, where they will be able to pledge to purchase an initiative-certified system. The Web site also will help consumers learn how to take advantage of their existing computer's power-saving capabilities such as sleep and hibernate modes, which can reduce the amount of energy consumed by up to 60 percent.

The Climate Savers Computing Initiative licensed its name from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Climate Savers program, which involves several leading companies working to reduce their carbon footprint.

"This is the first time our Climate Savers program has been applied to an entire sector, engaging manufacturers, retailers, and consumers," said John Donoghue, senior vice president for the WWF. "We are pleased to join these industry leaders to provide solutions to address climate change."

The initiative's energy-efficiency benchmarks will initially follow the EPA's Energy Star guidelines; but with increasing requirements during the next several years. For example, 2007 Energy Star specifications require that PC power supplies meet at least 80 percent minimum efficiency. The initiative would require a minimum of 90 percent by 2010. For a complete description of the requirements, see http://www.climatesaverscomputing.org.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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