Information technology has long been an integral part of our lives. And thanks to systems that are becoming increasingly more efficient, ever larger amounts of data are being transferred in ever shorter time periods. There is no end in sight to this development, though it is also closely linked to a negative consequence of the digital transformation: Energy consumption has skyrocketed in recent years.

Green computing is intended to counteract this development. This term encapsulates all measures that combine technological progress with environmental protection. It means resource-saving technology use, as opposed to restricting digital applications.

What is Green Computing?


Green Computing is an umbrella term for sustainable technology products and services as well as all efforts to utilise information and communications technologies in a way that saves as much resources as possible. Appropriate measures can be effective at any point in a product’s lifecycle: from its production to its disposal.

Green computing’s beginnings go back to the 1990s. At that time the US government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the EnergyStar label that would be used to identify energy-saving monitors and other IT devices. However, public awareness of green IT only began to emerge in the 2000s, as energy and resource consumption increased drastically with the spread of the internet and its end devices.

Green Computing: A Highly-Relevant Social Issue

In particular, climate change and the large media focus on the Fridays for Future movement that emerged in response to the former have made sustainable economic activity a subject of greater focus both politically and socially. The broadest consensus is that humanity must reduce its resource consumption if future generations are to continue to have a good quality of life on our planet. And because IT is especially resource-intensive, it also takes centre stage in such deliberations.

According to the Journal of Cleaner Production  electricity use by computer centres will increase from 2016 to 2040 to account for more than 14% of all emissions globally. And to date, only a small portion of the energy currently being consumed is generated sustainably.

Worldwide, information technology is responsible for approximately 2 to 3 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, which are the main cause of climate change. A recent study by The Shift Project in France predicted that, given current measured data, digital economy emissions could in fact represent 8 percent of all CO2 emissions by 2025. As a result, the environment would be more severely polluted by the IT industry than by cars and motorcycles.

Because digitisation is progressing rapidly, there is a high probability that the share of emissions will also increase. In order to slow this increase and all of its negative consequences, companies and private users must use digital applications and devices that are the best in terms of energy-efficient operation and resource-efficient production.

What Goals are Expected to be Achieved through Green Computing?

There are numerous measures that can be used to design the production, use and disposal of digital technologies so that it is more sustainable. To this end, both producers and users can contribute to integrating the concept of green computing in the most comprehensive way possible. This involves the fulfilment of goals such as:

  • reducing resource and energy consumption during hardware manufacturing
  • socially-conscious and fair work conditions for production
  • producing the most long-lasting hardware
  • developing resource-saving software
  • reducing energy consumption in the use of IT
  • recycling and energy-saving disposal
  • avoiding unnecessary hard copies
  • implementing IT to reduce the emissions of other products

Measures for Implementing Green Computing in Your Company

For companies, the implementation of green computing can be a competitive factor. After the increasing raw material and energy prices have also driven up costs for hardware and software, there is an economic interest within many industries in creating resource-saving IT structures. Sustainable technology facilitates economic growth and ensures jobs.

If the company combines its efforts with green marketing, then both customers and business partners will find out about its sustainable orientation. This improves the company’s image in the public eye.

However, companies often lack strategic approaches for implementing green computing. The various measures should for this reason be managed and coordinated by a person designated for this purpose. This is because there are numerous starting points with respect to how green computing can be implemented.

Environmentally-Friendly Hardware

Which hardware a company uses often determines the purchasing process. The person responsible for making purchases should for this reason receive a clear mandate to have a preference for environmentally-friendly labels. The use of long-lasting hardware is also conducive to sustainability.

Cloud Hosting

Storing applications in a cloud via certified computer centres saves far more resources than saving all data on internal company servers. In many sectors, cloud hosting is in any case a better option for companies than their own server.

Modern IT Infrastructure

Even if the use of an external computer centre is not a possibility for every company division, resources can be saved by simplifying the IT infrastructure through virtualizing and centralising IT services. Green computing is only possible with a modern IT infrastructure.

Mobile Work Processes

If employees are able to bring their laptops home with them in order to work at their home office or to replace on-site meetings with video conferences, it’s true that the technology itself won’t be become more sustainable. However, just the way it is used, which eliminates travel, contributes to a better environmental balance for the company.

A Paperless Office

In daily operations, reducing the volume of paper printouts in particular is an environmentally way for digital technology to be utilised. If, as a result, your company switches to paperless processes, then you’ll save printers and/or toner cartridges and ultimately costs as well.

Standby Mode

The preconfigured standby mode is an important part of saving energy in day-to-day business. On the whole, regularly shutting down computers at the end of the work day also makes a considerable difference and all employees should be advised to do so.

Hardware Disposal

Computer, printers and ink cartridges should be properly disposed of so that individual parts can be recycled and used again.

Practical Example: Green Computing at IONOS

At IONOS environmental protection and sustainability are a core part of our business strategy. This is reflected in all of our divisions.

All IONOS facilities in the US are either sourced from renewal sources, offset through certificates, or both. The company is also mindful of sustainability when manufacturing and disposing of hardware. As a result, CO2 emissions in 2018 were reduced by 143 tons through the recycling of old hardware.

In order to reduce the electricity demand of our computer centres, we have developed an intelligent IT infrastructure.

Furthermore, we have had our energy management certified in accordance with ISO 50001: Energy Management Systems. Independent experts on a regular basis inspect our adherence to the corresponding guidelines.

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