Computers Off Australia campaign kicks off

Power management, virtualisation saving the environment… one computer at a time

Tom Worthington, ACS director of professional development and founding chair of the ACS Green ICT group, said it was time people began thinking and acting on reducing the power their computers use.

"There are some subtle things they can do. It sounds like the bleeding obvious but when you are not using them - turn them off. And set the power settings that are built into the OS and hardware to save power - if you set them correctly the computer will use less electricity."

"For a long time people in the computer industry have assumed that they are in a clean, green high-tech industry, and that is not the case. Computers use roughly the same amount of power in Australia as the airlines do, and to go beyond the energy issues computers use materials that have toxic waste. So there all those sorts of issues and we need to raise awareness," Worthington said.

AIIA CEO Ian Birks said the environmental impact of ICT was among the top 5 priorities of his organisation, both for its contribution to carbon emissions and its ability to create technologies to reduce carbon footprint.

"Green is no longer niche, it is a mainstream environmental and financial imperative...[COA has] the AIIA's full support and we'll be promoting this to businesses and our members," he said.

In addition to promoting power management, the labeling scheme is designed to identify organisations doing their bit for the environment with three levels of COA "ticks" of approval.

A green tick means an organisation or individual has implemented or activated power management on their home and/or work PC.

A blue tick means an organisation or government department has virtualized their server or desktop infrastructure, while a gold tick defines an organisation or individual that has reduced their ICT carbon footprint and have purchased carbon offsets to become carbon neutral.

Winter said continual auditing will ensure organisations keep up to date with the practices that earned them their "tick" of approval.

The COA Web site includes information for individuals, businesses and government organisations, a CO2 and power management calculator, tutorials on activating power management settings within Windows and Mac operating systems, information on lowering power consumption, as well as three viral videos reminiscent of The Office which promote the campaign. Details on the labeling scheme and how to get involved with COA are also provided.

"If we don't start making a difference now, in every seemingly 'little' way we can, our children are going to have an even bigger problem with the environment than we have today," Winter said, speaking against the backdrop of a quote by renowned environmentalist David Brower: "We don't inherit the environment from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

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