The motivation to write this article came from reading 'How many light bulbs does it take to change the world?' - by Charles Fishman, published in the September 2006 edition of Fast Company.
The current hot topic is global warming and the need for everyone to actively reduce the number of carbon emissions we each produce. For the last two decades the light bulb industry has been attempting to perfect the energy saving bulb or compact fluorescent light (CFL). The CFL emits the same light as the incandescent bulb but uses 75-80% less electricity, for example a 60 watt incandescent bulb and a 15 watt CFL are identically bright.
To give you some idea of what this means, if every one of the 110 million American households bought just one CFL and replaced an existing 60watt incandescent bulb, the energy saved would power a city of 1.5 million people, or be the equivalent of taking 1.3 million cars off the road, or simply provide the opportunity to turn off two entire power stations or plants. Power stations are the single greatest source of greenhouse gases in the USA. One further thought to ponder is the fact that the average American household has between fifty and hundred light bulb sockets.
Although the compact fluorescent light is currently more expensive than the incandescent bulb it is predicted that the cost will reduce as the volumes sold increase. The added bonus of the CFL is their longevity ranging from 8,000 - 12,000 hours, which equates from eight to ten incandescent bulbs. It means that you may only need to change a light bulb once a decade! Think of the additional savings involved such as the manufacturing of the old incandescent bulb, the packaging, shipping, and then there is the disposal, both in terms of garbage trucks and landfill.
So why have we written about the CFL?
Well having got you thinking about what you can do as an individual regarding global warming, the next consideration is what your organization can contribute.
Pressure is starting to increase across all industry sectors as the earth's future rises up the world's political agenda. The plight of the personal computer is beginning to grab the attention of many world leaders. The three to four year cycle of replacement has caused a glut of equipment that needs to be disposed of, often involving third world manual labour stripping down the units for salvage purposes.
Organizations and governments are being to re-think their information technology strategies and look at what alternates are available. One solution in particular is the ultra thin client or UTC.
Primarily the UTC offers the user access to software applications that are held on a central server as opposed to sitting on each individual personal computer. So how does this reduce carbon emissions? Well quite simply a personal computer consumes 100 watts of electricity, where as the UTC uses 4 watts, providing a 96 watts saving. One starts to see the correlation between the compact fluorescent light and the ultra thin client with regards global warming. Think how many personal computers your organization uses and then begin to calculate the benefits. To an organization the amount of electricity consumed has the potential to provide a significant saving.
Some of the other features of the ultra thin client is that they have no moving parts they are simply solid state and silent, as they do not require a cooling fan. The manufactures specify a life expectancy of seven years. The cost of a UTC unit is less than 50% of that of a personal computer. As it has very little resale value to a potential thief, further more does not contain any company data it also provides a potentially secure solution.
So once again think of the additional savings involved as we did with the compact fluorescent light such as the manufacturing costs of the old personal computer, the packaging, the shipping, and of course the disposal.
What has this got to do with the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, or ITIL?
Well primarily what we have described in this article are two solutions, which are just as effective as their predecessors but are considerably more efficient. The various ITIL processes that underpin the library all have a combined factor, which is the need to continuously improve the process or processes, by making the process(es) more efficient and effective it may be worth considering whether or not the process has positively contributed to reducing carbon emissions for your organization or government department.
As the final food for thought, within Charles Fishman's article mentioned at the beginning of this article he describes an employee of Wal-Mart, Chuck Kerby who is a vice president and divisional merchandise manager for hardware and paint, including ceiling fans for all of U.S. stores and super-centres. Following a question of 'what difference would it make if the bulbs in the ceiling fan displays were changed to compact fluorescent lights?' With a typical Wal-Mart displaying ten models each with four bulbs, forty bulbs per store and with 3,230 stores the potential electrical saving was $6 million.