Google and Intel on Tuesday launched The Climate Savers Computing Initiative to promote the adoption of energy-efficient computers in order to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming. The initiative is an extension of the World Wildlife Fund's Climate Savers program, and is backed by other industry giants such as Dell, eBay, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, and NEC.

The initiative has set some ambitious goals, aiming to make computers 50 percent more power efficient by 2010 by cutting computer-based CO2 emissions by 54 million tons per year, which according to analysts accounts for 2 percent of the global total - equivalent to the output of 11 million cars annually or to shutting down 20 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants.

Industry experts agree that the reason companies can afford to set such targets was because of the "incredibly power inefficient" nature of computers, with the average desktop PC wasting nearly half of its power as heat.

"Power efficiency has seldom played a role in the history of the computing industry," Martin Hingley, chief research officer at IDC, the research firm, said. "If anything we've been encouraged to use machines as much as we possibly can. Efficiency could begin to overtake performance as a design criteria, however, as rising fuel costs force IT managers to consider the cost of having computers on all the time."
The plan also encourages users to enable the power-saving features of their machines, which can reduce energy consumption by 60 percent alone. In addition to the environmental benefits, the plan could help save $5.5 billion in energy costs a year. We are seeing more business getting involved in 'green' initiatives; let's hope it gains footing with consumers and IT buyers too.