Urs Hölzle, Google Senior Vice President, Operations, writes on the Official Google Blog that although ICT (Information and communications technology) emissions are growing, ICT use actually reduces overal energy consumption.
Before he gets to that point, though, he does some interesting number-crunching, comparing the energy used by common activities to the energy used in Google searches. He says, for example, that a single newspaper emits the same amount of energy as doing 850 Google searches. Here's the information, taken straight from the Google blog:
|CO2 emissions of an average daily newspaper (PDF) (100% recycled paper)||850|
|A glass of orange juice||1,050|
|One load of dishes in an EnergyStar dishwasher (PDF)
|A five mile trip in the average U.S. automobile||10,000|
|Electricity consumed by the average U.S. household in one month||3,100,000|
Hölzle goes on to say that overall, ICT emissions pay for themselves --- in other words, they're carbon neutral. Here's his reasoning:
Although the amount of energy used to power ICT is growing, it's important to measure all of the ways information technology helps us save energy too. A study by The Climate Group, in fact, shows that ICT emissions pay for themselves (PDF) (and then some) by enabling significant reductions in emissions by other sectors of the economy. After all, it's much more efficient to move electrons than to move atoms. "Virtual" tools like email, video-conferencing, and search engines replace more carbon-intensive activities like snail mail, business travel, and driving.I think he's right. And what he says holds even more true in enterprises. ICT in business is more than just carbon neutral --- it's a carbon saver. And Green IT is at the core of it.