Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
10/27/2008
08:53 AM
Kevin Ferguson
Kevin Ferguson
Commentary
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Green Computing? Offset This

Is there anything positive to be said about "carbon neutral" computing? The premise of carbon neutrality is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset.

Is there anything positive to be said about "carbon neutral" computing? The premise of carbon neutrality is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset.But there are numerous and obvious flaws in the notion. Not least of which is that the Earth keeps a different set of books. The emission of greenhouse gases by jet aircraft isn't neutralized if half the passengers buy renewable energy credit gift cards to give as Earth Day presents for their friends.

So, I have mixed feelings when I read that Google and other large enterprises are greening themselves -- in part -- with carbon offsets. The idea of being "carbon neutral" while still burning fossil fuels doesn't seem quite right. To its credit, Google is doing many things right, and in that sense it is leading by good example. Google's 1.6-megawatt solar panel generates 30% of the peak power necessary to fuel the building in which it's located, and it's investing in numerous renewable energy projects around the globe.

Because of Google's size it will have more impact, good and bad, on green computing than most companies. However, I thought it would be worth pointing out those companies that are achieving carbon neutrality by using 100% renewable energy: Green House Data, Affordable Internet Services Online, and Solar Energy Host.

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