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Re: Paperless hospital?--IT energy use



Dear colleagues,

         The Journal of Industrial Ecology <http://mitpress.mit.edu/JIE> 
has recently published a special issue on "E-commerce, the Internet and the 
Environment" ( vol. 6, #2) that contains a series of articles examining in 
the detail the environmental consequences of shifting from conventional to 
digital/electronic services.

Sincerely,
Reid Lifset

At 01:56 PM 7/10/03 -0400, Sobin,Rodney wrote:
>Dear colleagues--
>
>A previous posting asks some good questions about the reality and 
>environmental friendliness of "paperless" operations.   However regarding 
>"It has been argued that downloading a book or sending a 1 mb file around 
>the world requires a  'lump of coal,'" there are now some good analyses 
>refuting this claim.
>
>For those interested see Jonathan Koomey, et al., "Sorry, Wrong Number: 
>The Use and Misuse of Numerical Facts in Analysis and Media Reporting of 
>Energy Issues," in Annual Review of Energy and Environment,  2002. 27:119-58.
>
>An excerpt follows:
>
>"How Much Electricity is Used by Office Equipment?
>
>"THE ISSUE Some of the most widely cited statistics during California's 
>energy crisis in 2000 and 2001 ostensibly indicated that the Internet used 
>8% of all U.S.
>electricity, that all office equipment used 13%, and that total office 
>equipment electricity use would grow to half of all power use over the 
>next 10 to 20 years.
>These numbers all originated in an article for Forbes by Peter Huber and 
>Mark Mills in May 1999 (23), based on a report written by Mills (24). The 
>Mills report
>estimated the electricity used by eight categories of energy-using 
>equipment or processes associated with the Internet:
>         1. Major dot-com companies
>2. Web sites
>3. Telephone central offices
>4. Personal computers (PCs) in offices
>5. PCs at home
>6. Routers on the Internet
>7. Routers in local area networks and wide area networks
>8. Energy to manufacture equipment
>
>"Mills calculated energy use for equipment in each category by multiplying 
>estimates of the power used by the population and operating hours for each 
>device.
>The Forbes estimates appeared when the Internet boom was at its peak. At 
>that time, the information technology industry had captured the 
>imagination of U.S.
>society as a force that would revolutionize both consumer lifestyles and 
>business practice. Many people therefore found it plausible that such an 
>important part of
>the U.S. economy should also use significant amounts of electric power, 
>which was one reason for the rapid proliferation of these statistics.
>
>"In subsequent research, Koomey et al. (25) demonstrated that the Huber 
>and Mills estimate of Internet power use was at least a factor of eight 
>too high, and
>Kawamoto et al. (26, 27) and Koomey (28) showed that the Forbes estimate 
>of total office equipment electricity use was a factor of four too high. 
>Recent analysis
>by Roth et al. (29) at Arthur D. Little (now Tiax) also corroborated these 
>findings. Creating credible estimates of electricity requirements for 
>information technology
>is fraught with difficulty. The underlying data are not known with 
>precision, the empirical data are limited, the most useful data are often 
>proprietary, and the
>technology is changing so rapidly that even accurate data are quickly 
>obsolete. Forecasts of future growth in power use are even less reliable. 
>Nevertheless, much is already known about information technology 
>electricity use, and we bring that information to bear in the sections below."
>
>(. . . )   The paper analyzes this case extensively and then concludes the 
>section with:
>
>"SUMMARY The claim that information technology uses large amounts of 
>electric power proliferated quickly, driven by a superficially plausible 
>story line and a
>high-profile crisis in the California electricity sector. Forbes itself 
>lent credibility to the argument simply by publishing it. The trade press 
>and the popular media
>repeated the key claims in the Forbes article, often without citing a 
>source, thus enshrining the erroneous statistics as common knowledge. 
>Leaders in business,
>government, and academia were misled by this barrage of media attention 
>and cited the statistics widely, thus ensuring their proliferation."
>
>Cheers,
>Rod
>
>Rodney Sobin
>Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
>Postal: P.O. Box 10009, Richmond, VA 23240-0009
>Street:  629 E. Main St., Richmond, VA 23233-2429
>Tel. 804-698-4382       fax 804-698-4264  Rsobin@deq.state.va.us
>DEQ Innovative Technology http://www.deq.state.va.us/innovtech
>Chesapeake Bay Program Innovative Technology 
>http://www.chesapeakebay.net/innovative.htm 
><http://www.chesapeakebay.net/innovative.html>
>Virginia Environmental Services Network http://www.vesn.org
>
>
>
>
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Program on Solid Waste Policy
School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Yale University
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