When it comes to intimacy and pleasure, it is often said that the brain – rather than sensitive areas of our bodies – is our one most pronounced erogenous zone. In the same vein, when comes to conservation, the most valuable asset we have may not be a home’s insulation or a thermostat or a car’s light components or an efficient carburetor. Instead, the most effective tool for reducing our environmental impact may turn out to be the computer.
What is wind power, you might ask, without a computer to coordinate where the electricity goes? Similarly, it might be well and good to turn down a thermostat at night, but computer chips could manage to adjusted the heating systems in a home with precision and efficiency that includes adjustments to weather conditions outside in manners that may increase energy savings beyond what you can do with intuition and guesswork.
The computer can also do what it might take 50 technicians to do, which would be to run from room to room in a skyscraper and adjust each thermostat when the time comes to do so. By the time those 50 technicians complete their rounds and turn up a thermostat two degrees, it might be time to turn them back down again. In so many words, the computer can take the idea of conservation and apply it to the modern age.
The point is, everyone knows how to turn down a thermostat and save energy, but it takes a computer to understand how to save energy on the scale of our modern human enterprises. We live in cities with buildings far too large to try to save energy manually, even if we wanted to.
The green movement, as such, is about applying the basics of conservation on a scale that is truly mind-boggling, but is certainly within our reach with computers to help us attain our goals.
Just by example, Wikipedia lists 197 hotels around the world with 1,000 rooms or more. Including the world’s largest, the 7,117-room Venetian Las Vegas and Palazzo complex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Obviously, with a Las Vegas location, this is a hotel that requires a lot of air conditioning. (And, thankfully, neither you, nor I have to pay their electric bill.) From a point of view of conservation, however, what if three rooms on the 35th floor (the hotel is 36 stories high) were unoccupied? Does management need to circulate air conditioning in those rooms?
The advent of the computer and motion detectors can be used to adjust the heating and air conditioning needs of a building of this size quickly and efficiently, reducing the hotel’s carbon footprint dramatically over time.
Now take that same concept and apply it to every large building in Washington, D.C. and you have some enormous energy savings in a year, thanks to the thrift built into a computer program. If that were not grand enough, there are some 356 cities in the United States with populations over 100,000 and this does not include thousands of bedroom communities adjacent to these or any large building in an isolated setting, be it a college campus, a corporate headquarters, a distribution center or a shopping mall.
In so many words, the energy savings could add up on a national scale if computer were running the show, adjusting heating systems – for ambient air and hot water – in manners that used energy efficiently. To paraphrase the quote attributed to Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen, “a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money,” in this sense, a billion kilowatts here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re taking real energy savings.
But the savings go father than that.
Computer-run buildings require fewer employees, so while a company saves money on its heating bills, it saves money on salary outlays, as well.
Savings on computers
While you are shopping for a computer that will cut down on your bills, seek out servers that are also energy efficient. Just as other appliances – clothes washers, driers and air conditioners – are rated for efficiency, so, too, there are computers that run at lower temperatures and draw less amperage than others.
Studies show that businesses can save as much as $50 per computer if they simply had their computers go into hibernation mode, rather than having them humming along at full power when not in use. Companies that require embedded computing and industrial PC technology may require a variety of other IT support systems.
Going high-tech to find ways to reduce your environmental footprint still relies on the basic Three Rs principal of conservation, which is to Reduce use, Re-use when possible and Recycle. Those three Rs, no matter what, do not change.
That said, take advantage of technology by creating the most efficient systems in other parts of your business. Besides energy use, there’s efficient use of space, cutting down on packaging or paper products and designing production and distribution systems that cuts down energy use.