hippy, hippy shake

Tree hugging is cool again.

Though probably not for the same reasons it used to be. Inadvertent environmentalists are popping up everywhere in the paperless world.

As an individual I’ve always tried to do my little bit (like requesting electronic bills and statements when available). And as a business I’m determined to start off on the right foot and have no physical filing. But in my effort to become paperless (see: Electronic Wonderland), have I missed the mark?

Aside from convenience, is having everything electronic really actually helping the environment? What is the net effect of paper verses electronic?

Just how green is the cloud? Where is all of that electronic information being stored, and what is the impact of this? Needless to say, with all these questions, I’ve done a little digging…

Global management company Accenture’s report Cloud Computing and Sustainability states that “Although the carbon emissions of cloud providers will increase as they run a growing percentage of other companies’ applications, overall net emissions will decrease when customers replace existing on-premise servers with cloud services”.

On the flip side, however, a study by the University of Bristol entitled Energy Use in the Media Cloud shows that individual (as well as corporate) connectivity is on the rise too. The level of future power consumption looks likely to increase 60-fold over the next 20 years.

Although such energy efficiency is fairly achievable, where does the responsibility lie? Is it up to service providers to ensure they are using green energy, or is the consumer just as liable?

Whatever your stance on cloud computing and electronic consumption, its future impact on the environment is one that will concern everybody. Although there are many varying factors to consider, tackling these issues while this industry is still in its infancy has to be a good thing.