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Stanford researchers hope to make the Internet more sustainable

The Internet may be paperless, but it's definitely not

The Internet may be paperless, but it's definitely not "green" (file photo/sxc)

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, July 29, 2013, 4:31 PM -

It's paperless, sure -- but that doesn't mean the Internet is good for the environment.

Billions of web pages, combined with countless of web servers and computers adds up to a lot of activity.

Statistics suggest that the Internet is responsible for 2% of the total electricity consumed in the U.S. -- that's more energy, according to CNN, than the American auto industry uses to make its cars.

Now, researchers at Standford say it's possible to make the world wide web a little more eco. 

According to new research, many big data centres could eliminate up yo 88% of their greenhouse gas emissions by switching to more energy-efficient equipment.

Throw renewable power and other sustainable practices into the mix, and those centres could reduce their footprint by 98 percent.


World leaders in tech, like Google, Facebook Amazon, eBay, Expedia and Apple have already jumped on the efficiency bandwagon, new equipment to drastically reduce their carbon footprint.

Government offices, universities and airlines have been slow to pick up the trend and house some of the most inefficient equipment out there, researchers say.


Researchers hope their study will encourage businesses to be more aware of their servers and computers and make more sustainable choices in the future.

"Pretty much every organization whose main job is not computing has done a poor job of improving efficiency," said Eric Masanet of Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering and co-author of the paper, in a statement.

"Some have made progress, but nowhere near what's possible. Most can't even tell you how many servers they have, let alone the servers' utilization."

The complete study can be found in the June 25 edition of Nature Climate Change.

Check out some more tech factoids, courtesy of Wordstream.

New technology allows crops to take nitrogen from the atmosphere, lessening dependence on fertilizers
USGS: Warmer climate leads to spike in forest fires
Scientists uncover why millions of bees are dying
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