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Green Computing and India’s role in it

Green Computing has been a focus area for the global community for over a decade now. Our lives were fast transformed when IT invaded every sphere of our life. Initially it was assumed to be a medium with no adverse impact on environment. However gradually the misconception was removed. Now the global community including governments, corporate, social communities and individuals realize the significance and urgency of adopting green computing.

Global community and India

Many governments and corporate across the world have taken leadership roles towards green computing. A number of global consortiums/forums have been established. The keys to green computing such as Green Use, Green Disposal, Green Design and Green Manufacturing have been proposed by them. Green IT and E-governance policies have been enforced by governments across the globe. Industries, investors and policy makers are becoming more and more aware of the criticality of Green IT. Today the focus is not only on higher computing power, faster analysis etc. It is also on achieving energy efficiency, reduction of E-waste and using the computing resources efficiently. Governments and corporate leaders have jointly started working towards it. Many global corporates have put policies and practices that help reduce their companys environmental impact.

In 2005, 128 nations came together and signed the Kyoto Protocol and published their charter to reduce the GHG (Green House Gas) emission (Chuang and Huang, 2014). India is a signatory of UN Climate body, UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). So Indian IT companies have a huge responsibility towards the nation and the entire global community towards implementing green computing. The commitment made by India in October 2015 to UNFCCC , outlines action plans to reduce its emission by one third as compared to 2005 emission levels. Many initiatives have been taken up by the Indian government and other private bodies in this direction. National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) by Government of India includes Green IT in its strategy for reducing GHG emission. NASSCOM and TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) -business council jointly have started an initiative called Corporate Action Plan on Climate Change: ICT as a game changer (WBCSD, 2011). It tries to identify those sectors where ICT can play a significant role in reducing carbon footprint.

The task force formed by Government of India outlines specific recommendations for the Indian IT and telecom industry. It includes aspects like standardization, declaration of carbon footprint of their network operations to TRAI, having a Carbon Credit policy, getting tax incentives etc. Corporations have come up with implementation framework for the same. A few companies publish their report as well.


Initiatives by Indian government and corporates

To fulfill the commitment given to UNFCCC, the government of India has launched a number of initiatives in the country. The government regulations have been one of the drivers for Green IT in the industry. An expert group has been set up to formulate a roadmap on low carbon strategy. The recommendations from this group have been included in the twelfth five year plan of India. This shows the significance put by the Indian government to the Green IT initiatives (Chawla, 2012).

The recommendations include standardization of IT and Network equipment, cleaner and green data center standards, inclusion of energy consumption standards in all government purchases as part of green procurement policy and so on. It encourages organizations to invest in cleaner technology which can be a costly affair initially. So it also extends tax incentives to such organizations for funding cleaner technology.

The population growth, rapid urbanization and related constructions have caused concerns for the depleting natural resources and increase in energy consumption. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has made the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) mandatory for building designs and specifications for all new and renovated buildings. All the state governments have been mandated to implement the same by 2017 (Times of India, 2014).

The Ministry of IT and Communications have also put adequate focus on Green IT in their national IT, Electronics and Telecom Policy (Chawla, 2012). As per these policies all telecom service providers must declare the carbon footprint from their network operations to TRAI twice a year, all their products and equipment need to be certified as Green Passport, they have to adopt Renewable Energy Technologies for certain percentage of all the rural and urban mobile towers. The telecom service providers are encouraged to come up with their own code of practice of energy efficiency for their network and infrastructure planning. On doing so they will be given carbon credits in line with the governments carbon credit policy.

All the above initiatives and mandates by the Indian government have encouraged the Indian business houses to adopt green computing.

At the same time, the awareness about global environment changes and sustainability issues are growing among the Indian corporate. There is also a growing demand from investors and all other stakeholders to become environment friendly. The other main motivator is the reduced operating cost by adopting green technology.

As per the Gartner report Hype Cycle for Green IT and Sustainability in India, 2014, the Indian organizations are moving towards integrating their environment sustainability commitment with their core business. As per the analysts, the spending by government and private corporate houses towards Green IT would reach USD 34 billion in 2014 and USD 70 billion in 2015 (Gartner Inc., 2014).

It has been observed that although everybody believes that Green IT is important, so far very little has been actually implemented in this direction. In the year 2010, Fujitsu Australia published a report on Green IT Global Benchmark. It contains a multi-country benchmark to determine the maturity of Green IT practices and technologies in end user organizations across all industries in USA, UK, Australia and India. As per this report, the overall maturity level for these four countries is 56.4 and that of India is 52 only. So while coming to actual implementation, a lot remain to be achieved.

Green IT Index by country

Green IT Index by country



Chawla, R. (2012). Green IT Initiatives in India.

Gartner Inc., (2014). Gartner says India Green IT and Sustainability Spending To Reach $34 Billion in 2014. [online] Available at: Says India Green IT And Sustainability Spending To Reach $ $34 Billion In 2014 [Accessed 8 Jun. 2016].

Green IT – The global benchmark, A REPORT ON SUSTAINABLE IT IN THE USA, UK, AUSTRALIA AND INDIA. (2010). 1st ed. Fujitsu.

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Why Indian companies must go green


Initially IT was perceived as a non-polluting industry with no adverse effect on the environment. However, in the last decade this misconception has changed and the global community is becoming increasingly aware of its impact on climate change and global warming.

One of the causes is generation of heat adding to increase in carbon footprint and global warming. The PCs, Monitors, Data Centres consume huge amount of energy and emit huge amount of heat. As per the International Telecommunication Union report (2010), 3% to 4% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emission is due to IT industry and it is likely to increase to 6% by 2020. Depletion of natural resources is another problem. Actions like unnecessarily printing are the reasons for this.

GHG emission per capita

The above factors give rise to local and global effect; local effects such as health risk caused by E-waste; air/water/land pollution and so on; global effects such as global warming, climate change, glacier melting and level of ocean rising due to temperature increase etc.

IT as an enabler

Based on the ITU report published in December 2010, Information Technology can also be a key enabler to impact climate change. Through introduction of more efficient equipment and networks, the emissions in ICT sector can be reduced. It can introduce energy efficiency in other sectors through technology E.g. Telecommunication instead of physical communication, moving to green buildings etc. Safe disposal of E-waste can create local jobs other than influencing climate change significantly.

Outlook of global business community

In the last decade the concept of Green Business has emerged. Many enterprises are turning themselves into green business. A green business must have green ideas embedded into its overall business management concepts so that it applies green management methods and technologies to its daily operations (Chuang and Huang, 2014). As per Roberts Issak (2002), there are two kinds of green businesses; one which didnt start as green but ultimately converted to green. The other one is green-green business that was started as green by ecopreneurs.

The global business community has become aware and extremely conscious of the climate change issues and environment sustainability. Corporate social responsibility has been integrated with the core business of most of the big corporates. A survey of 148 manufacturing companies in Taiwan has established that green business has a positive effect on business competitiveness. So the green initiatives and sustainable development are also important strategies by the enterprises to strengthen their market competitiveness (Chuang and Huang, 2014).

Global consortiums like Green Grid has been formed for formulating energy efficiency in data centers and business computing echo system. Multiple corporates (like Dell, Microsoft, IBM, and HP) and government agencies are the members of Green Grid that was formed in 2007. Anderson et al. (2008) introduced the Power Efficiency metrics and Data Centre Productivity metrics to the IT Industry as a benchmark to be followed.

Energy Star, a voluntary labelling program was launched by U.S Environmental protection Agency. It promotes energy efficiency in computer equipment. There are other initiatives like Climate Savers Computing initiative, Green Computing Impact Organization Inc., Green Electronic Council etc.

Green computing has been receiving the attention of the leadership teams of most of the big organizations. Many of them have included green computing in their corporate strategy and defined policies and best practices around it. E.g. HCL Technologies, a leading global IT Service Provider has laid down its sustainability goal of 2020 where under Responsible Business and Renew Ecosystem, clear targets for Innovation, Green IT, Energy Management, Green Procurement, and Green Building have been set out (HCL, 2016).

However it is not enough for only the large enterprises to go green. There are many smaller countries in the world whose economy mostly depends on SMEs. It has been estimated that 70 % of the global pollution is contributed by the Small and Medium Enterprises (Coffey, Tate and Toland, 2013). So it is equally important to measure the extent of green practices adopted by the SMEs as well. SMEs have limited resources, low awareness level and other challenges of their own. So the one size fits all approach of adopting green computing for all businesses will not be appropriate in this case (Coffey, Tate and Toland, 2013).


There are various reasons for the global businesses to pursue green computing. Some are regulatory in nature. Some are for pure business benefits. Projecting an environment friendly image is also another reason (Mann, Grant and Mann, 2009).

Most of the governments worldwide have clear mandates or regulations related to carbon footprint reduction, E-waste disposal and so on. Many times regulations are the most effective ways of implementing any framework. Sometimes they are applicable to the whole state or country; sometimes they are limited to a particular industry. E.g. the government of India, Ministry of IT & Communications has released National IT policy, National electronics policy and National Telecom policy in 2012. The task force formed for the growth of IT/ITES and manufacturing in India have come up with many recommendations in the area of green computing such as standardization, green procurement, tax incentives for developing cleaner technologies, declaration of carbon footprints to TRAI, adoption of renewable energy, carbon credit policy and so on (Chawla, 2012). Some of them are mandatory and some are recommended guidelines.

Corporates are also keen on maintaining a positive brand image of an environmentally responsible business house. Increasing global focus on green IT, environment sustainability issues, energy efficiency etc. are forcing the management to take a note and include such initiatives in their CSR strategy (Chawla, 2012).

However, the most important driver is the business benefits that are derived from this. Corporates adhering to Green IT enjoy competitive edge in winning business deals since many customers worldwide have become environment conscious and their business decisions are greatly influenced by the Green IT score of the vendor (Saha, 2014).

Cost saving is the other most important internal factor. Adhering to energy efficient equipment in offices and data centers, reducing waste, and getting financial incentives from the government etc. save huge amount of revenue for the corporates. It helps to influence the business owners attitude towards Green IT greatly (Phillip. C, Mary. T, 2013).

Green IT benefits

By embracing Green IT principles, doors for other business opportunities will be opened for the IT organizations. IT companies can design products to offer green solutions to their clients across industries. Some of the areas that have business potentials are setting up of green buildings, smart grids , generation of renewable energy sources, software for monitoring and measuring GHG emission, development of power management software, development of technology for Tele-commuting and so on.

Many of the todays customers are embracing green business principles and giving preferences to vendors that comply with their green vision. So enterprises with technology and vision to produce products and services in this direction will have a competitive edge over others (Saha, 2014). These will also lead to creating a green economy by creating several new jobs in this new field. Some of the global giants have already taken up a leaders role in this direction. E.g. the Sun Microsystems has come up with Sun Ray, a thin desktop client that consumes far less electricity compared to the conventional desktops. Google has also come up with the Blackle search engine site that consumes considerably less power than a white computer screen.

One of the immediate benefits of Green IT is cost saving. Adopting energy efficient measures saves huge amount of money for the organizations and is one of the main drivers for adopting green principles.


While IT has brought about a complete transformation of modern world and influenced every sphere of our lives, it has also been a cause for the rapid downgrade of the environment we live in. green computing concept has emerged from the need for preserving our environment. Government, Industries and individuals all have realized the criticality of adopting the green computing principles.

Multiple forums and consortiums have been set up by industry leaders and government bodies towards it. Many Green IT initiatives have been rolled out. Different organizations have different reasons or motivating factors for adopting Green IT. From this the concept of Green Business has emerged. It has been seen that Green businesses also lead to higher market competitiveness and other economic benefits like cost savings and job creation. Firms can implement a Green IT framework by considering some of the key components of Green IT and including them in their policy and action plans. Investment in human resources will also lead to generation of better innovative ideas. However, once the implementation framework is in place, there should be measurable results to assess the greenness of the organizations.

India is at a very vulnerable state as far as sustainability is concerned. A detailed action plan has been drawn by government of India which explains its green charter for 2020. However, the green maturity index of India is still at a value of 52 and Indian industries have a long journey ahead. If the Indian companies want to maintain the competitive advantage, reap the benefits of going green and use it as an opportunity to expand their business, the only way is to go green.


  • Chawla, R. (2012). Green IT Initiatives in India.
  • Chuang, S. and Huang, S. (2014). Effects of Business Greening and Green IT Capital on Business Competitiveness. J Bus Ethics, 128(1), pp.221-231.
  • Coffey, P., Tate, M. and Toland, J. (2013). Small business in a small country: Attitudes to Green IT. Information Systems Frontiers, 15(5), pp.761-778.
  • HCL Technologies, (2016). Rebalance for 2014 and beyond [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Mar. 2016].
  • International Telecommunication Union, (2010). World Telecommunication – ICT Development Report 2010. ITU Publication.
  • Isaak, R. (2002) The making of the ecopreneur, Greener Management International 38, 81.
  • Mann, H., Grant, G. and Mann, I. (2009). Green IT – An Implementation Framework. AMCIS 2009 Proceedings. Paper 121 Available at: [Accessed 5 Jun. 2016].
  • Saha, B. (2014). Green Computing. International Journal of Computer Tends and Technology, 14(2), pp.46-50.


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E-waste scenario in India


Since the last couple of decades, IT has become an integral part of our life. In this era of globalization, the social, economic and cultural boundaries have blurred. The exponential growth of IT in all spheres of life can be credited for the same.

Businesses have become extremely competitive. Innovative ideas are abundant in making lives better in all aspects. Technology controls every aspect of our life be it interaction through social media, banking, healthcare, agriculture, learning, entertainment etc. Due to this reason (for being heavily dependent on technology), every business is striving to make huge investment in IT facilities and Infrastructure.

All the above have also created a highly negative impact on environment, human health and natural resources. Initially IT was perceived as a non-polluting industry with no adverse effect on the environment. However, in the last decade this misconception has changed and the global community is becoming increasingly aware of its impact on climate change and global warming. One of the main causes is generation of E-waste at an alarming rate. It contains hazardous elements like lead, mercury, cadmium, black carbon etc. that are extremely dangerous for the environment and human life.

As per the report called Global E-waste Monitor 2014, published by United Nations University (UNU), the U.S. and China are the biggest contributors of E-waste, producing 32% of the overall global E-waste in 2014. As per this report, the overall volume will increase by 21% in the next three years. Developing countries like India are catching up fast; India being the fifth largest E-waste generator, with 1.7 Mt E-waste generated in 2014. Another major challenge faced by India is the lack of stringent regulations and legislations for E-waste disposal. As a result, many developed countries ship their E-waste to India. This has made India a global dumping yard. When these E-wastes are not disposed properly, it creates disaster to the nature and human life.

E-waste scenario in India

In 2017, the number of mobile phone users world-wide is projected as 4.77 billion. The global shipment figure for laptops, PCs and tablets together is close to 650 Million worldwide (Shipment forecast of tablets, 2016). As per a study, fortune 500 companies assign on an average 3.5 devices to each of their employees.

Due to this high volume of usage of electronic devices world-wide, the generation of E-waste is also increasing as a result of discarding old and obsolete devices. As per global statistics, electronic devices are producing 50 MT E-waste annually and it is growing at a rate of 5% every year. It has been predicted that this growth rate will be faster and by 2020, computer based E-waste will increase by 500% and mobile phone by 18 times compared to the year 2007 (C. VATS and SINGH, 2014).

In India, the IT industry has grown at a rate of 42.4% between the years 1995 and 2000 (C. VATS and SINGH, 2014). This includes growth in software as well as hardware sectors. The telecom industry has grown very fast in the last decade and mobile phones have penetrated deep into the rural India as well. The total mobile phone subscriber base crossed the 1 Billion mark in October 2015 (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, 2015). Moving towards newer technology, frequent upgrade of infrastructure etc. have resulted in discarding obsolete electronic equipment and network infrastructure at an alarming rate. These mainly include PCs, laptops, servers, mobile phones, televisions, music systems and other electronic devices used by industries as well as for personal use. Considering a population of 1.25 billion, this is a cause of great worry for India.

The main challenges are rapid growth of cities, lack of landfills, lack of awareness among people and low environment standards set by government. Due to low environment standards and absence of stringent environment laws, many multinational companies from the developed countries ship their E-waste to India for disposal. Although the per-person GHG emission in India is significantly low compared to developed countries like USA and Germany, the poorest of the poor in India remain most vulnerable to the health hazards caused by it.

Proper disposal of E-waste:

The policy of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Refurbish is very relevant to E-waste management. By reusing and recycling hardware components like ink cartridges, old PCs instead of throwing them away, reduces the landfill requirement. Most of the unwanted electronic equipment land up in landfills which should never be the case. In order to avoid accumulation of toxic materials in the landfills, infrastructure for recycling and refurbishing must be developed.

As per the reports published with respect to India, 60% of E-waste remains in the warehouses or storages. Only 40% is made available for recycling by both formal and informal recyclers. In the recycling process, as high as 95% of the E-waste is used for refurbishing. Only 5% needs to be disposed (C. VATS and SINGH, 2014). This shows the huge potential for energy saving and pollution reduction by the recycling process.

As part of the E-waste management policy, strategies should be drawn out for the main action items such as Collection, Recycling and Disposal. Multiple levels of collection points (local, urban, state level etc.) should be created for maximum amount of collection of E-waste. Awareness should be generated among the local population about the harmful effects of E-waste if not handled safely. Infrastructure and training facility should be provided to the registered E-waste recyclers for easy recycling and disposal (C. VATS and SINGH, 2014).

Some other measures can also be taken to minimize the E-waste. E.g. instead of using toxic materials like lead, other more environment friendly materials like copper and silver may be used.


A robust E-waste management policy includes reduce, reuse and recycle of E-waste. There could be guidelines that reduce E-waste generation e.g. unnecessary printing. The policy should take into consideration more efficient recycling of electronic scraps whereby useful scraps can be reused and the harmful components are safely disposed. In developing countries like India, this can be a sustainable business model with job creation, skill development of the local population and environment benefits.


VATS, M. and SINGH, S. (2014). Status of E-waste in India – A Review. International Journal of Innovative Research in Science, Engineering and Technology, 03(10), pp.16917-16931.


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