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by Aman Singh Das | August 30, 2010


Mysummer as an EDF Climate Corps fellow making the business case forenergy efficiency and carbon reduction at eBay Inc.has officially come to an end. Despite my uncertainty of finding low-hanging fruit in energy efficiency at an environmental-leader likeeBay, I found my stride and was able to calculate the energy savings of anumber of computer power management solutions. Thanks to thisproject, and a few smaller projects on facility upgrades, I was able to “digin” and provide recommendations that will be implemented across eBay Inc.

The EDFClimate Corps Internship connects MBA students with companies on are makingtheir sustainability a corporate priority by focusing on energy efficiencysolutions. Megan Rast is part of their 2010 class

Throughmy successful work on computer power management at eBay, I found four keytakeaways for working on sustainability and energy efficiency:

1.Be Introduced Widely Across the Company: During my first week at eBay Inc.,my supervisor set up introductory meetings for me far and wide across workplaceresources, information technology, data center strategy, finance, procurementand corporate communications. As I started my internship, I focusedon projects related to eBay’s facilities and data centers, and did notinitially work with the other groups I had met. However, thanks to theseintroductions, IT remembered my skill set, and approached me in mid-July toanalyze the energy savings of a variety of options already underconsideration. Our initial meeting was necessary in connectingorganizational needs to the resources and skill set I provided.

2.Use the Ratings Systems Available: I found a number of "green"and energy-saving ratings for computers, including RoHS, EnergyStar, and EPEAT. The mostcomprehensive is the EPEAT certification, which includes RoHS and benchmarksagainst EnergyStar so that any computer with an active EPEAT certification musthave the latest EnergyStar rating. A business or individual trying topurchase the most green and energy-saving computer can therefore reference thiscertification. However, the certification itself highlights the great distancestill to go by computer manufacturers in order to achieve truly sustainablecomputers. Of the 51 criteria for certification, only half are currentlyused in providing a rating. Additionally, many of the required criteriaare still in a stage of disclosure (e.g. the manufacturer has to disclosewhether there is recycled content, but is not yet required to have a certainpercentage).

3.Remember, Performance is Correlated to Energy Usage: When it comes to computers, ahigher-performing machine uses more energy. For example, while it is truethat a laptop consumes less energy than a desktop during the use stage of itslifecycle, the performance capability of a laptop may be insufficient forcertain IT environments, particularly those that run 24/7 and are heavily usedfor multimedia and programming. I found it necessary to stratify thecomputing performance needs by different types of employees, so that each typeof employee had the lowest-energy computer possible without sacrificingperformance. Interestingly, lifecycle analyses suggest that laptops alsoconsume less energy than desktops in the manufacturing stage, and thereforehave an overall lower energy consumption total over desktops. Given thatdesktops are typically priced lower than laptops, this indicates that the priceof desktops is not indicative of the energy use in manufacture.

4.Include Both Purchasing and Behavioral Solutions: When addressing computer powermanagement, a policy is incomplete if only focused on purchasing low-powercomputers (i.e., EnergyStar rated). IT organizations need a systematicmethod for ensuring the EnergyStar power-saving settings are being used byemployees. Because behavior change can be so difficult, power managementsoftware provides an excellent solution that allows IT to override excessiveenergy consumption by individual computers.

--By Megan Rast, 2010 EDFClimate Corps Fellow at eBay Inc., MBA candidate at HaasSchool of Business, University of California, Berkeley, Member ofNetImpact

This is the final post by Megan Rast in aseries of blogs that In Good Company hosted this summer in collaboration with EDF, featuring fellows fromtheir 2010 Climate Corps class, as they journey through their internships. Withtheir posts, these interns gave us a rare insight into behind-the-scenesoperations at companies who are proactively discussing corporate sustainability,one conversation at a time.

Previous posts by Megan

Does the Software Side of Energy Efficiency Signal the Next Wave of Startups?

Hunting for Energy Efficiency at eBay


Filed Under: CSR

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