States go green with Google, Intel

Today the National Governors Association announced a partnership with the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, a program started by Google and Intel to bring together manufacturers, businesses, organizations and individuals to increase the energy efficiency of computers and servers.

The partnership between NGA's Securing a Clean Energy Future initiative and CSCI is designed to spur deployment of energy-efficient computers and servers in state offices. NGA's SCEF initiative, launched in July, is an effort to enlist all governors to enact clean-energy policies at the state level.

'The average desktop PC currently wastes half of the power it receives,' said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, NGA chair. 'Having states increase the energy efficiency of their computing equipment will save consumers and taxpayers money, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.'

Representatives of the two groups say that by joining forces, states can achieve up to a 50 percent reduction in energy consumption from state-owned computer equipment over the next four years. Minnesota and Kansas are the first states to join the CSCI partnership.

To commit to the partnership, states must take the following steps:
  • Pledge to purchase high-efficiency computer equipment that meets or exceeds federal Energy Star ratings;
  • Educate employees about more efficient and effective computer power management strategies, such as better use of hibernation and sleep modes;
  • Ensure in subsequent years that the state purchases computing equipment with increased levels of efficiency.

If all states adopted these policies, more than 291 million kWh of electricity could be saved. This is a savings of more than $20 million in electricity costs and almost 200,000 tons of CO2.

According to NGA officials, in a typical desktop PC, nearly half the power coming from the outlet never reaches the processor, memory, disks or any other computing components. The wasted electricity is dispersed as heat and increases the cost of powering a computer, as well as the emission of greenhouse gases. The added heat can increase the demand on air conditioners and cooling systems, making the computers even more expensive to run. Servers, though more efficient than desktops, still typically waste 30 to 40 percent of the input power.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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