The power behind green computing  
When it comes to creating a green office, you have to turn your attention to the devices that use a great deal of energy – the computers and servers. Even if you make a conscious effort to turn off your computer – or at least the monitor – after hours, computers are still the company workhorses and demand a lot of power.

Millions of Americans are tethered to their computers daily, so what can a business do to create greener software and computer solutions?

A good first step to look at how your company is using its software programs – on-site versus something calls SaaS or Software as a Service. Taking a green perspective on this topic, your business could be saving a great deal of energy by using SaaS or Web-based applications that run through the vender’s data center and are accessed online. On-site software means you pop in the CD, install the software and run it on your own server or computer hard drive.

Chris Thorman on, offers an extensive comparison of the two and which one is more green. In his example, SaaS uses significantly less energy, in part because a vendor can accommodate multiple customers on one server, and off-site software requires less power meaning employees can switch to more energy-efficient personal computers, such as laptops.

Another benefit to using online software or shared downloads is the savings on packaging (no CD, no boxes) as well as the energy savings from not having those items delivered to your office via a delivery truck.

Here are a couple of other green computing options:

• Canadian-based computer Userful has created Userful Multiplier, which uses Linux-based software and allows 10 users to run off the juice of one computer. The company boasts a savings of 90% on electricity use with its product.

Faronics Power Save analyzes your computer’s activities and powers down the computer when it’s inactive. The computer claims an average savings of $50 per computer per year when using this software solution.

But if you’re still thinking, “OK, what’s all the hype? How much energy can my computer really use?”, check out this article on the power consumption of computers. It gives good evidence for switching to a laptop (15-60 watts) from a desktop (60-500 watts) for energy efficiency and turning off your monitor when it’s not in use (0-15 watts versus up to 150 watts when a monitor is running).

In the end these extra efforts can ultimately save your business money as energy consumption drops and you can afford to upgrade to more energy-efficient computers for your employees. And that kind of green savings is something just about any business can get behind.

Let’s hear your ideas! What green computing solutions are you using?

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