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4 Green IT Businesses Working to Reduce Computing’s Impact on the Environment

A green business integrates sustainability and conservation into its business model. Here’s a look at four companies that are achieving IT industry success while minimizing environmental harm.

John Edwards

April 11, 2023

5 Min Read
green technology concept with monitor and butterflies
jvphoto via Alamy Stock

For many IT companies, making a commitment to soften computing’s impact on the environment is little more than empty rhetoric: promises, pledges, assurances, and precious few real-world results. Yet a rapidly growing number of IT businesses are beginning to understand that blunting technology’s environmental impact is not only the right thing to do but is actually good for business.

Here are four firms that are backing up their environmental commitments with real-world action.

BrainBox AI

BrainBox AI is targeting the green building revolution with its unique heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technology. The system relies on two cutting-edge IT innovations -- artificial intelligence and cloud computing -- to achieve maximum environmental efficiency.

Andrew Fitzpatrick, BrainBox AI’s UK business development director, says that his company has merged deep learning algorithms with existing HVAC technology to automate the performance of individual system components, such as air conditioners and heat pumps. He reports that BrainBox AI’s technology can lower a building’s total energy cost by up to 25% and its carbon footprint by 20 to 40 percent while improving occupant comfort by 60%.

BrainBox AI predicts a building’s energy consumption at a granular level, enabling autonomous HVAC systems to operate pre-emptively, versus the currently used reactive approach. The shift from reactive to pre-emptive HVAC system management is applied individually to each of the building’s environmental zones, allowing for highly granular system control, Fitzpatrick explains. He notes that the technology can be quickly installed, is non-intrusive, and generates savings with no upfront capital investment.

Novva Data Centers

Novva Data Centers has developed a proprietary water-free cooling system that it has deployed at its data center in West Jordan, Utah. The system aims to reduce data center operators’ massive water dependency, effectively saving 300 million gallons of water per year.

The system scoops up the hot air generated by data center servers and related equipment and recycles it through heat exchange coils to convert it back to cold air. Meanwhile, thanks to overnight temperature dips, Novva can use ambient air cooling during 65% to 70% of the year, using only outside air to keep servers cool. For the other 30% to 35% of the year, Novva operates a hybrid system, using both ambient air and the water-free cooling system. Besides the innovative water-free cooling system, Novva also uses solar energy to help supply energy to the center’s servers.

Novva Data Centers CEO Wes Swenson notes that a Salt Lake Tribune article published last year compared his firm’s water use to other data centers. “We were found to be more economical with our usage than Facebook and the NSA, which use approximately 13 million and 128 million gallons of water per year, respectively,” he says. “We feel our technology is showing others the way forward to better, greener facilities.”

Thanks to its green practices, Novva’s Utah facility earned a LEED silver certification from the US Green Building Council.

GFT

IT engineering and consulting firm GFT is embracing the concept of carbon-conscious coding. The firm’s “GreenCoding” methodology is not just a nice-to-have philosophy, but an actual company-wide practice, says Marco Santos, GFT’s CEO Americas. “We’re currently in the process of rolling it out to the enterprises we work with so they can also adopt it,” he notes. The company is now driving sustainable digitization projects for some of the country’s largest enterprises, including Ford, Blackstone, and JPMorgan.

GreenCoding focuses on building sustainability into the way developers write and run code. “If current practices are left unchanged, information and communications technology could account for 21% of global electricity demand by 2030,” Santos says.

Santos notes that his organization’s approach to offsetting the environmental impact of its -- and its clients’ -- software is equal parts education and execution. “We started with company-wide training to get our 10,000-plus employees up to speed with ... the things they do every day,” he says. This includes everything from shutting down software when idling to dimming screen brightness whenever possible. “From a software development perspective, it means considering things like CPU [performance], eliminating the practice of having programs constantly running in the background when not being used, and methodically addressing any and all functionality that uses energy unnecessarily.”

By becoming more environmentally conscious about the way it addresses coding, GFT is on track to reach climate-neutral operations by 2025. “This type of tangible impact is what’s helping us educate the larger IT industry about how their software and digital practices create CO2 emissions,” Santos says.

Winbond Electronics

Taiwan-based Winbond Electronics produces semiconductors and several types of integrated circuits, most notably dynamic and static RAM, serial flash, microcontrollers, and personal computer devices. Winbond has won multiple awards for ESG/sustainability and is designing products with sustainability in mind.

Semiconductor industry leaders must continue prioritizing their focus on sustainability initiatives and goals, says Jackson Huang, Winbond’s vice president of marketing. “We are proactively reducing our carbon footprint by supporting a low-temperature soldering (LTS) process in our memory products.”

In 2022, Winbond reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 229,245 metric tons of Co2e, equal to approximately 590 forest parks, recycled 7,212 metric tons of waste, with a recovery rate of 93%, and recycled 10.59 million cubic meters of water.

The semiconductor industry is also seizing the opportunity to consume less energy and lower carbon emissions with the formation of industry initiatives, achieving ISO certifications related to the wafer carbon footprint and increasing water recycling at all plants, Huang says. “We will work across the ecosystem to lower carbon footprints and meet the industry’s sustainability goals.”

What to Read Next:

Data Center Cooling Technologies Target Sustainability

Pathways to a More Sustainable Data Center

Carbon Accounting Tech Evolves as ESG Demands Increase

About the Author(s)

John Edwards

Technology Journalist & Author

John Edwards is a veteran business technology journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous business and technology publications, including Computerworld, CFO Magazine, IBM Data Management Magazine, RFID Journal, and Electronic Design. He has also written columns for The Economist's Business Intelligence Unit and PricewaterhouseCoopers' Communications Direct. John has authored several books on business technology topics. His work began appearing online as early as 1983. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he wrote daily news and feature articles for both the CompuServe and Prodigy online services. His "Behind the Screens" commentaries made him the world's first known professional blogger.

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