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Turn up the temperature to reduce computer failure

Published: Financial Times, April 3rd 2007

Sir, John Willman’s article “City businesses turn over green leaf” (March 27), about businesses looking to new technology to help cut their carbon footprint does not mention that, while it is all well and good investing in cutting-edge technology, businesses should also be cutting carbon emissions in the technology they already have. Not only does this save investment costs, it will also improve operational efficiency.

Research shows that IT is responsible for upwards of 15 per cent of a typical large UK enterprise’s carbon footprint, and for some heavily IT-dependent organisations the figure is more than 40 per cent.

There are many simple measures that can be taken to reduce this footprint, often through straightforward housekeeping following a green audit, as well as by attacking the most energy-hungry areas such as the large data centres on which all large organisations now depend to house their IT servers.

An excellent example of this is the recent discovery by Google that, contrary to popular belief, turning up the temperature reduces the failure rate of computers.

As much energy is used in data centres for keeping the computers cool as in actually running them. Letting them get hotter means that less energy needs to be expended on cooling. It is exactly this sort of green policy that companies should be considering first and foremost.

The root of the problem is the lack of genuine encouragement from senior management to persuade the IT department that it can help a company to reduce carbon emissions, and at the same time drive operational efficiency throughout the organisation.