Carbon Footprint Tool for Hosting Providers

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Facilitated by CITI team members

CITI is developing a tool to calculate the carbon footprint of server and desktop configurations, and they'll talk about the goals and potential applications of the tool. We can also talk briefly about sustainable hosting.

CITI stands for Community IT Innovators. They are based in Washington, DC. Because there is no national regulatory system for green companies and technology, the effects and methods of evaluation varies from region to region.

Many times computing companies can do things that one wouldn't immediately think of to reduce their carbon footprints:

like rearranging server racks in a certain way so that they create an air tunnel which only requires one fan to cool them all.

We discussed how even very small incremental increases in server load time, spread over millions of views, could add up to noticeable energy consumption on a server level. Does making your website complicated enough so that it takes a while to load lead to damaging effects of the environment? It seems too many steps away to worry about but we discussed how these kinds of issues may become more of an issue as climate change worsens.

We also discussed adoption of alternative energy like solar or wind power. How it usually is a matter of getting the energy to the houses (the grid) rather than the inability of the technology to produce energy. Many times the grids are owned by the government or private companies that do not see any advantage (financial or convenient) to doing an overhaul of their system to improve the green capacity of their hardware.

At the same time, we both agreed that you must do what you can. Worrying too much about the minutiae of environmental pollution causes can become maddening. REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE is the main thing we should be focusing on. For example, if we didn't buy that second server in the first place (REDUCE) we wouldn't have to worry about the dangerous metals it releases into the environment when it is eventually thrown away.