Computers Off Australia campaign kicks off

Power management, virtualisation saving the environment… one computer at a time

The Computers Off Australia (COA) campaign and labeling initiative was launched nationwide in Sydney today, with the aim of encouraging organisations and individuals to implement power management practices on their home and office computers to reduce the carbon footprint of ICT.

The not-for-profit campaign is being endorsed by peak ICT industry bodies ACS and AIIA, vendor Lenovo, as well as the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

Representatives from these organisations touted the potential environmental and financial benefits of power management and virtualisation at the official launch this morning.

COA is an educational marketing and awareness campaign, combined with a labeling scheme that will classify organisations using three colour-coded ticks that represent various degrees of power saving measures. The labeling scheme is designed to help businesses, government and individuals identify organisations that are reducing their CO2 emissions by lowering their power consumption.

According to COA founder, Mark Winter, inspiration for the campaign came on the heels of Earth Hour, Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and a report on the ICT's industry's contribution to carbon emissions.

"I read in a Gartner report that the ICT industry accounts for approximately 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions... I knew then where I could start...and the idea for Computers Off Australia was born," he said.

The campaign is specifically targeting the millions of work computers that are left on all night or during extended periods of inactivity in the day, increasing power costs and contributing to climate change.

Richard Collins, an independent consultant to the equipment energy efficiency team of the federal Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, spoke at the COA launch about the lack of use of power management and power saving options that come standard in Windows and Mac operating systems.

(See Windows vs. Linux power-saving measures)

"Studies have shown 80 percent of people don't play with these power management settings...I find it appalling because it costs nothing, power management is not used enough," he said, calling for mandatory enablement of power management options at the point of shipment for all PCs.

"Even if you take out the climate change factor, you can save money [by switching off computers and implementing power saving measures], and I don't think I've ever heard anyone tell me they didn't want to save money."

According to the campaign, if Australian home users, businesses and government start switching off computers when they are not in use and implement automated power management, they will collectively save in excess of $1.3 billion per annum and reduce our carbon emissions by almost 8 million tonnes per annum.

COA says that at 12 cents per kilowatt, that figure is the equivalent of taking over 1.3 million cars off the road, planting over 2 million trees and lighting over 8 million homes for one year with the energy saved through effective power management.

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