A new study shows that the IT sector has reduced annual CO2 emissions associated with IT equipment by more than 32 million metric tons worldwide since 2007, according to the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI).

The results are part of a benchmark study conducted by Natural Logic to assess the progress of the CSCI’s goal of reducing annual CO2 emissions from the IT sector by 54 million metric tons by June 2011. The initiative, formed in 2007, is an international coalition led by CSC, Dell, Google Inc., HP, Intel, Microsoft, and the World Wildlife Fund to reduce the environmental impact of new and emerging IT equipment through energy efficiency.

This new research shows that annual CO2 emissions from IT equipment have decreased by 32 million to 36 million metric tons worldwide since 2007. This amount is equivalent to taking nine coal-fired power plants offline and is equal to more than $2 billion in annual energy savings. Additionally, the research shows that the IT sector is on target to achieve Climate Savers Computing Initiative’s reduction goal by the end of its 2010 fiscal year in June 2011.

These results can be attributed in part to the Climate Savers Computing Initiative’s coordinated efforts to accelerate the adoption of computer power management; new efficiency standards for computing technologies; and the development, deployment, and adoption of higher-efficiency computing equipment.

"When CSCI was established in 2007, desktop computers wasted 50 percent of the power coming from the wall,” says Lorie Wigle, general manager of the Eco-Technology Program Office for Intel Corporation and president of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. “Today, through the collective efforts of our organization, hardware manufacturers, large IT buyers, and other key partners, the IT sector has cut that waste by at least 25 percent for new systems."

The study covered the first three program years of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2010. Data was compiled by examining CSCI member company progress on power-management adoption and market data, including shipment and installed-base information, PSU efficiency levels, number of units sold worldwide, operating systems in use, market research, and estimates from industry analysts.

"The Climate Savers Computing Initiative has made significant strides in reducing the impact of computing on our environment,” says Steve Ryan, program manager for the ENERGY STAR Low-Carbon IT Campaign at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “This research demonstrates progress, but we know that still more can be done by increasing the adoption of power management and energy efficient computing equipment in the U.S. and worldwide."

What’s Next: Focus Will Include Networking Equipment

Going forward, the Climate Savers Computing Initiative will leverage the expertise and leadership of its founding board of directors with that of new board members, Cisco, Emerson Network Power, and Juniper Networks, as the organization expands its focus to include commercial and home networking systems and devices.

"As the number of networked devices continues to rise, the energy demands on networks and networking equipment will increase in step. With this growth, there is significant energy and cost savings potential,” said Bill Weihl, Green Energy Czar at Google Inc. and Climate Savers Computing board member. “The Climate Savers Computing Initiative recognizes that in order to achieve end-to-end computing energy efficiency, we must address the energy used by connected devices and their interaction with the network."

The organization will begin by setting new energy efficiency criteria for networking technologies. These new criteria will be developed by working with Cisco, Emerson Network Power, and Juniper Networks and through alliances with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others.

As part of this expansion, commercial and residential routers and switches, commercial WLAN, and security and access devices will be incorporated into the organization’s environmental mission, with the goal of reducing annual CO2 emissions by an additional 38 million metric tons by 2015. This is the equivalent of $5 billion in annual energy cost savings.

According to research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the energy used by commercial and residential building's networking systems and devices will increase by roughly 6 percent annually without a focused effort to improve their energy efficiency. "We hope to reverse this trend, and we think we can," said Wigle. "Our research shows that, with the adoption of conservation and efficiency measures on networking equipment, a commercial or residential building’s energy use can be reduced by more than 10 percent."

The demand for energy efficient computing is rising among corporations in the U.S. and globally, according to industry analysts.

"We're seeing a notable trend in CIO priorities globally that will play a role in market adoption of more efficient networking technology," said Andy Lawrence, an analyst with the 451 Group. "Corporations worldwide are working to reduce their environmental impact, and at the same time trying to cut operating costs. Energy efficient computing can do both, and the Climate Savers Computing Initiative's ability to apply the principles of power management to networking has the potential to have a big payoff for the environment."