Greenmonk’s Inaugural Cool Award: Fujitsu Siemens

A couple of months ago I got the chance to chat with Fujitsu Siemens Computer’s chief technology officer (CTO), Dr Joseph Reger, who leads the company’s sustainability initiatives. We went over a fair amount of ground, but one thing that stuck with me was a new technology that came to the market last month – monitors that consume zero power when on standby. Let me just say that again – computer monitors that consumer zero watts on standby. When not in use DC power shuts down completely.
Anyone that has checked the power consumption of their electronic devices, using a Kill-a-Watt monitor, for example, knows just how greedy devices on standby can be (TVs and set-top boxes = bad news). And we have a lot of them in every home and office. According to FSC’s press release:

“Reducing European Union-wide power consumption through the adoption of electrical goods that use zero watts in standby mode would save an estimated 35 Terawatt hours per year according to the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung) – while the EU Stand-by Initiative reports estimates that stand-by power accounts for about 10 percent of the electricity use in homes and offices of the EU Member States.”

In other words, standby power is a problem very much worth solving. This is innovation at work and I commend the engineers at FSC for their efforts. Now if they can just apply the same technology to every other device I use…

When I first heard about the SCENICVIEW ECO device, I thought it had to be worth an award. So I thought why not award it? We need to work out what the COOL award means (Greenmonk probably needs a logo, for it, for example), but for now I would just like to say well done FSC – and congratulations. You are worthy winners of the first Greenmonk cool award for finding ways to lower global carbon emissions and energy consumption.


Dell Hybrid hiding its (Green) light under a bushel!

Screenshot of Dell Hybrid taken from their site

I first heard about the new Dell Hybrid PC from Walter Higgins on Twitter.

My initial reaction was “Dell Hybrid”? Do they have petrol engines and electric motors? Why the Hybrid name? It isn’t immediately obvious from the Dell Hybrid page on Dell’s website.

They look nice, to be sure but what about the Green credentials they are touting?

I then received an email from Dell’s Renee Daulong and she explained:

The Hybrid is about 80 percent smaller than the typical desktop minitower, and uses up to 70 percent less energy. In addition to being extremely energy efficient and Energy Star 4.0 compliant, the Studio Hybrid’s unique packaging was designed to be environmentally responsible:

· Reduced packing materials 30 percent by weight.

· Packing materials are also 95 percent recyclable.

· Reduced printed documentation 75 percent by weight.

· System recycling kit is included.

The Studio Hybrid can personalized with a choice of seven optional, interchangeable external finishes or color sleeves, one of which is made from bamboo.

Some of that information I found subsequently on the Hybrid page if you click on the Design tab about half-way down.

It is superb to see manufacturers being more responsible in their latest PC models but come on Dell, a machine as Green as this should at the very least have a dedicated page highlighting its Green credentials.


Games consoles really are gas guzzlers and the PS3 is an SUV!

PS3 Controller
Creative Commons License photo credit: DeclanTM

James had a post here a couple of weeks back asking “Are Games Consoles Really Gas Guzzlers?“. This was in response to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald where Greenpeace accused games console vendors of ignoring environmental concerns.

James correctly pointed out that the story was light on specifics – there was no data to support the assertion that the games consoles were power hungry.

Yesterday I spotted a Tweet from April Dunford where she said:

Sony Playstation 3 consumes five times more energy than a medium sized refrigerator – 10 times as much as the Wii.

Intrigued, I followed the link and sure enough the story seems to back GreenPeace’s assertion:

They found out that a medium sized refrigerator of about 12 cu. ft. volume (60 inches in height) will cost $50 a year while Sony Playstation 3 will cost $250 a year even if it is not in use and only turned on. Microsoft XBox came second behind Playstation 3.

The original research was carried out by Australian consumer group Choice. Choice is the largest consumer organization in Australia with over 200,000 subscribers.

Ouch! The PS3 consumes five times more power than a fridge even if not in use? Interestingly the Nintendo Wii only consumes one tenth the power of a PS3. Yet another reason to love the Wii!!!

The target demographic for games consoles are typically the younger generation who are idealistic and really clued into Green. If the console manufacturers really want to differentiate themselves they should get Energy Star certified. The first one who does will reap the rewards.


How Green is my device?

I wrote on the LowerFootprint blog last week about how Nortel are putting it up to Cisco on the energy efficiency of their devices.

Nortel have taken it even further since then. They have just launched their Energy Efficiency Calculator. This calculator is supposed to take inputs based on the industry sector you are in, the number of employees or your location and report your potential energy or $ savings were you to choose Nortel equipment over Cisco.

Nortel's Energy Efficiency calculator

However the number of possible inputs are way too limited (only 6 options for each). I’m a director of CIX, a data center based in Cork, Ireland. An ideal target for this kind of campaign, you would have thought. But the lowest number of employees I can select in the calculator is 500!!!, the industry sectors are limited to public sector, financial services or retail, and the location is limited to North America.

Worse there are only six possible outcomes no matter what input you choose! Guys, come on, you are doing yourselves no favours with this ‘calculator’.

And Cisco are pushing back too. Omar Sultan makes the valid point on the Cisco blog that Nortel’s figures are for routers and switches idling (i.e. not routing and switching). These figures typically bear no resemblance to the numbers for the devices when they are in use.

As he says himself:

a note to those of you with data centers: if you have switches in your data center that are plugged in and not doing anything, please unplug them now–it will help you with power/cooling and the polar bears will thank you too

Obviously idle time power consumption is a factor in a devices power rating but so too is power requirements during usage.

The upside is that both these companies are thinking about the carbon footprint of their devices and making quite a bit of noise about it which will have a trickle down effect on other vendors in the space.

All this goes to the point that we need industry agreed standards around how we measure energy efficiency. These then need to be converted to the likes of Energy Star ratings (1-5 where 1 is poor and 5 is super-eco, or similar).

As energy prices climb, these efficiency ratings will increasingly be the primary consideration in IT purchasing decisions.


On CES, Greening, and Gizmodo as Eco-Pranksters


Its a laudable goal CeBIT would begin the long road to greening by fully supporting the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. But I should point out the power used at trade shows is just absurd – all those banks of screens talking to nobody in particular.

Should we should reconsider the Gizmodo guys as eco-pranksters (have you seen the video, where all the huge screens start turning off, one after another? Maybe they should join the Green Forge.) I still don’t really understand why so much anger was directed at Gizmodo, people talking about lawsuits and so on. Annoying yes. Business threatening- come on people, get some perspective.


I want me some Blue Sky

I am a Thinkpad fanboy. The machine to me is a stone cold industrial design classic (warm palm issues on the X60s notwithstanding). What is more, you can pour an entire glass of water into the keyboard and you’ll probably get away with it. Thinkpad Looks Good, Works Well. The machines tend to be light, too- thus the current weightless ad campaign.

When it comes to desktop machines I have no such preference but I have to say I am excited by the new Blue Sky thinking from Lenovo. ComputerworldUK has the story here.

A desktop machine which at 45 Watts can potentially be powered by a solar cell – sweet. Perhaps even cooler Lenovo claims its made up of 90 percent reusable or recyclable materials, and its packaging is 90 percent recyclable,so it got a Gold EPEAT rating.

Small is beautiful. Low power is beautiful. Blue sky is beautiful.

photo courtesy of papalar, Creative Commons attribution no derivs license.