– Adam Stern, CEO of Infinitely Virtual, says:

In advance of Earth Day 2013, many of us are thinking green.  The information technology sector is both a huge consumer of energy and, increasingly, a smart advocate of ways that businesses can reduce their carbon footprint.

That’s especially the case when working with Cloud Service Providers (CSPs).  No pun intended, but the cloud is proving to be far “greener” than traditional in-house data centers. This a real two-fer: by substantially reducing carbon dioxide emissions companies can cut energy costs and help clean up the planet.  With cloud computing’s inherently smaller carbon footprint, the advantages for corporations working with CSPs are substantial on a number of levels.  It’s now clear that businesses no longer need to own and operate their own IT infrastructure.  With each passing year, more and more organizations are moving from managing in-house data centers to much more cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly cloud solutions.

The fact is, most in-house data centers simply aren’t very energy efficient.  Factoring in all of the typical IT hardware, as well as non-IT equipment for cooling, lighting and so on, the percentage of wasted energy is significant.  Consider Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), one of the metrics for measuring data center efficiency.  The PUE is a simple equation — data center energy used divided by the total IT equipment energy used — that indicates non-IT hardware energy consumption.  The average PUE for in-house data centers in the United States is currently just shy of 2.0, while some CSPs are already approaching an impressive 1.1 PUE.   To put this in perspective, note that a 1.0 PUE would require zero energy from non-IT equipment.

As Laurie Sullivan recently wrote in MediaPost, “Google produces more than a quarter of a million kilograms of CO2 annually to power searches — enough to run a freezer for 5,400 years.  That’s according to WordStream, which put together an infographic to tell us how much technology pollutes the planet.

“How much does the energy it takes to run the Internet affect the world we live in? Did you know that one spam message produces the equivalent of 0.3 grams of CO2?  And what about the 62 trillion emails sent each year? Those emails produce as much CO2 as 1.6 million cars driving around the earth.”