September 15, 2006 10:00 AM PDT

Curbing the CO2 that comes from PC use

You'd never guess it, but your PC puts about 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.

Computers have become, indirectly, a significant source of greenhouse gases, according to Kevin Klustner, CEO of Verdiem, a start-up that has devised software for curbing electricity consumption by PCs. That electricity often comes from coal-fired plants that release carbon dioxide.

Often, the power gets expended for no good reason.

"Thirty percent of the energy consumed by a personal computer is wasted because people aren't in front of it," Klustner said. He also cited a survey of IT managers who said employees tend to change the energy-saving settings on the PCs: The IT department might mandate a shutdown after three minutes of inactivity, but then people reset the default on their machines to extend that to, say, 10 minutes.

Sometimes, though, it's essential a machine keep running. Traders on a financial floor often study screens, but don't interact with their computers, said Klustner. In cases like that, an IT manager could set the PCs to stay on, even if no keystrokes have occurred for an extended period.

"A rule that says turn off your monitor after five minutes wouldn't work," he said. The rules on when to shut off PCs and for which employees are usually determined after a survey of the work habits of employees.

Conservation credibility
Seattle-based Verdiem hopes to capitalize on this problem by taking control of the energy settings out of the hands of the user. The company's Surveyor software remotely controls when and how desktops and laptops on a network go into an energy-saving sleep mode.

Other companies are tackling PC power consumption from different directions. New Hampshire's Degree Controls has created a network of sensors that can pinpoint hot spots in a server room and direct cool air there. Directional air flow can cut computer room power bills, often inflated by air-conditioning, by 30 percent, Degree Control says.

While start-ups have emerged in the past few years touting alternative-energy ideas such as ethanol or solar power, others have taken a dowdier tack and promoted energy conservation. Companies such as Comverge, for instance, have come up with ways to control thermostats remotely.

Although conservation isn't as sexy, it has strong adherents. Nobel laureate Steve Chu, for example, has said that fairly simple conservation techniques could substantially cut energy consumption without forcing a change in lifestyle in the U.S.

Regulations passed in the 1970s that forced appliance makers to reduce energy consumption have led to refrigerators today that consume about half the electricity of their 1973 counterparts. They also hold far more food.

The movement to cut power consumption by PCs--and servers--now includes a wide range of forces, including tech companies, advocacy groups and politicians. Some companies, such as Advanced Micro Devices, have made it a central tenet of their marketing.

Ecological, financial motivation
The savings from Surveyor can be fairly substantial, according to Verdiem. The company has found that the software can cut power bills by $20 per PC and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 440 pounds a year. Fifteen PCs can generate as much carbon dioxide annually as a typical midsize car, according to the company, although the exact figure depends on where and how the electricity is generated and other factors.

So far, the software has been deployed on around 300,000 PCs. Most organizations that have installed Surveyor have 4,000 or more PCs on their networks. Some of the larger customers, such as School District No. 57, in Maryland's Prince George's County, have 30,000 seats.

Verdiem has had the most success with government agencies and school districts, Klustner said. Part of the reason, he said, is that these organizations are cost centers. They don't generate revenue. As a result, the only practical way to improve their financial picture they can directly control is by reducing costs.

The structure of the consultants that service these companies also helps. Technology giant Siemens and other organizations provide energy services to public institutions. These consultants don't get paid flat fees. Instead, they get a portion of what they can save their clients. As a result, many energy-services consultants have adopted the software. These companies have also begun to increasingly fish for clients in the private sector.

The software costs $20 per seat. Verdiem charges a $2 maintenance fee per year per seat after that. "You can get payback in about one year to 15 months," Klustner said.

The current version of Surveyor has two modes: It leaves PCs on or puts them into a sleep mode. It may be possible to come up with ways to save power by putting PCs into intermediate stages of energy consumption, according to the company.

Verdiem is also looking at ways by which the rules governing how a PC is put to sleep or remains active can be adjusted to an individual user.

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30 comments

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If Human Caused Global Warming Was Real...
Big whoop. Humans aren't causing global warming anyway.

If we were, Who's SUVs caused the temperature increase in the Precambrian, Silurian, Premian, and Cretaceous ages?

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.zeeboid.com/images/globaltemp.jpg" target="_newWindow">http://www.zeeboid.com/images/globaltemp.jpg</a>

I'm sure now The Church of Global Warming is going to try to force some legeslation for us to pay a user tax for the Greenhouse gasses for computers before long
Posted by zeeboid (92 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If Humans caused Global Warning
E GW CORP ELECTRONICS CO2 IMPACT CNET SEP 15 06Phoenix Ref Chart past climate is only a guide to the future. With humans in the developed nations having emitted billions of tons of CO2 and other more potent green house gases the natural variability of the climate is being altered. The same corporate values like that of tobacco that has profited from manufacturing a cancer epidemic. Or the fast fat sugar food industry that has fooled millions that their food is fit for human consumption are at play by the coal, the petroleum and the auto industry. Worse corporate double agents have infiltrated into the white house and the CIA and have been able to dupe a patriotic congress and many Americans on Iraq. So far they appear to have done a good job with global scientific accounting fraud (NASA scientist research blocked)+++ that has permitted corporations to profit from denying and delaying action on the destabilization of our planets climate.
Corporate manufactured ignorance by tobacco and the fast fat/sugar fooled million that their product was something that cool, powerful, sexy people consumed. Societies reality has been cancer and obesity that has killed millions by lying about their product. The auto corporations fooled millions (me included )that driving a vehicle (SUVs the worst) that spews out more lethal toxins as more people struggle to breath, squanders more of the worlds oil resources and pumps out more climate destabilizing emissions is something smart, cool, sexy people do. Are these the values of radical fundamentalist religious capitalists?
Posted by Phoenix1A (1 comment )
Link Flag
any right-wing smoke screen
Many Climate Changes are natural, that does not mean all Climate changes are natural. It would be just like "it is OK to hunt down tigers, because Dinosaurs got extinct and in same way tigers would too". In that case, we could extend this kind of pervert-logic to "humans" since humans will die, there is no crime in killing people.

There is sufficient consensus in scientific community (over 80%) that there are negative effects because of "Green house gases". The doubt or debate is about what is the extent (and one can only predict the future, and none can foresee it). The people who would lose from stringent environmental laws / programs have used this debate as a smoke screen.

If you are not sure "pollution is bad for the world". Take a walk in New Delhi streets for a week and tell me what else your enlightened mind thinks.
Posted by YankeePoodle (785 comments )
Link Flag
Stop and think
Global Warming is just half the equation. Recent findings conclude that there's a new variable to consider: "Global Weakening". Considering this, global warming is far superior than previously expected.
Even if you don't believe in any of this, consider the following: when the previous temperature increases occurred, human civilization didn't exist!
The question is not if Earth will survive. It will, I have no doubts about it. The question is: will human civilization as we know it survive? I really hope we won't have to put this to a test.
Save on some coffees and watch the movie/documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" with an open mind. If after that you still maintain your current opinion, well, I just hope the world leaders don't think the same way.
Posted by resu eman (38 comments )
Link Flag
Newsflash!
Human beings breathe out CO2.

Your pet dog breathes out CO2.

Your Mountain Dew gives off CO2, etc. etc.

DANGER - DANGER

Stop breathing, kill your dog, - You're killing the planet!

Give me a flippin' break.
Posted by Sparky672 (244 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A simple solution
A tree breathes CO2 and breathes out O2. We breathe in O2 and Breathe out CO2.

Gentlemen and Gentlewomen, I have an idea, a simple idea: PLANT MORE FRAKING TREES! And to the idiots at the rainforest, STOP CUTTING DOWN THE FRAKING TRESS!

And if that doesn't work, shoot your dog, stop driking mountain dew and walk everwhere from now on! 8)
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
walking's no good, it makes you breath heavier
Heheh.. had to join in on the joke.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
Wake on LAN
I have to admit, I leave my work PC running at all times so that I can log in remotely should I get paged while on call. I'm sure it's possible to hibernate the PC when I leave the office, and use the Wake on LAN feature to turn it back on when I need to, but I do not know of any companies doing this. Anyone else?
Posted by nospam! (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wake on LAN?
I have to admit, I leave my work PC running at all times so that I can log in remotely should I get paged while on call. I'm sure it's possible to hibernate the PC when I leave the office, and use the Wake on LAN feature to turn it back on when I need to, but I do not know of any companies doing this. Anyone else?
Posted by nospam! (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I have
I've used WOL with remote connections, and it is a real pain.... the connection will always fail and you have to wait for the computer to come back online and try the connection again. My advice, is not to waste your effort... Anything that uses electricity can replace "computer" in this article. I bet my refridgerator is responsible for more CO2 "emissions" than my computer. Goodness only knows how much CO2 my home theater generates.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Another useless startup?
Am I the only one who scratches their head every time one of these 'startups' shows up on the sceene to save the day, and go, huh, you can already do that without the cost and overhead of thier product?

Most Enterprise class organization are already using Group Policies to enforce a baseline of minimum standards for certain PC settings, and can limit or remove completely the end client's ability to modify the settings controlled by Group Policies on their local pc, beit desktop or laptop.

Or am I really missing something here?

If so, I admit...I don't get it!

Rev
Posted by Revolutn (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not getting power from coal
My power comes from a Nuclear plant and as a side benefit we all glow in the dark now so we don't need lights inside or at night any more &lt;g&gt;.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
You got it
Look at who the customers are: the government. That's the telltale sign of an uneconomic product. Sell it to the people who don't have to worry about ROI and P&#38;L.
Posted by solrosenberg (124 comments )
Link Flag
Think out of the bos
Hmmm, CO2. I have an idea. Just put a plant next to your PC.
Posted by gymmbo (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Think out of the box
Hmmm, CO2. I have an idea. Just put a plant next to your PC.
Posted by gymmbo (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Story's premise ridiculous
So, we turn off our computers and turn on our TVs or other electric appliances?
It doesn't matter what it is. This is just a guy trying to make a name for himself by trying to appear to be doing some "great deed." Silly.
Posted by jaybolin (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Puff piece
More BS than a Texas ranch. VASTLY overstated environmental
damage, VASTLY overstated savings, and the "program" is nothing
more than a toggle switch they rushed out the door with a press
release they prey C/net will run.
Posted by reybar (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Start-Up Capital needed . . .
. . . for my new "Bio-Diesel/Hydrogen//Wind/Solar/Hamster on a
Tred Wheel" Powered computer guaranteed to single handedly put
and end to Global Warming once in for all!

Any takers?

;-)
Posted by K.P.C. (227 comments )
Reply Link Flag
wrong approach
It's true that we shouldn't waste the natural and generated resources such as energy and water. However, I recommend looking for cleaner energy sources and enforcing the Kyoto protocol first.
Posted by yeselcuk (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bad pricing model
I won't consider this product simply for the pricing scheme. Not only must you buy the program, but you have to pay a yearly licensing fee as well. What service do you receive for this yearly licensing? None. There are no updates or service required to keep this program running properly. There is no reason for licensing fees other than to make money for the selling company which does nothing to maintain the program.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CO2? 'PLANT FOOD'!
As Sparky667 pointed out in 'Newflash', plants *need* CO2 to produce O2, and we (and our pets) need O2 to make CO2.... So a power plant producing CO2 is no bigger issue than Miracle Grow being manufactured. Go plant a tree to convert it, then adopt a pet to convert that plant's production. Or buy another computer.

If global warming is an issue (and the mere fact temps are rising is not proof it is)then CO2 is unrelated. We should focus on *real* dangerous gasses. CO2 has been around in abundace longer than trees have been on the earth, which is longer than dinosaurs have been extinct (or there would
Posted by hawkeyeaz1 (569 comments )
Reply Link Flag
continuation
be no more trees!)
Posted by hawkeyeaz1 (569 comments )
Link Flag
 

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