Friday, October 31, 2008

Green Computer

Green computing is the study and practice of using computing resources efficiently.
The primary objective of such a program is to account for the triple bottom line, an expanded spectrum of values and criteria for measuring organizational (and societal) success.
The goals are similar to green chemistry; reduce the use of hazardous materials, maximize energy efficiency during the product's lifetime, and promote recyclability or biodegradability of defunct products and factory waste.

Approaches to green computing

  • Virtualization

Computer virtualization refers to the abstraction of computer resources, such as the process of running two or more logical computer systems on one set of physical hardware.

With virtualization, a system administrator could combine several physical systems into virtual machines on one single, powerful system, thereby unplugging the original hardware and reducing power and cooling consumption.
  • Power management

The Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI), an open industry standard, allows an operating system to directly control the power saving aspects of its underlying hardware. This allows a system to automatically turn off components such as monitors and hard drives after set periods of inactivity.

In addition, a system may hibernate, where most components (including the CPU and the system RAM) are turned off.

Some programs allow the user to manually adjust the voltages supplied to the CPU, which reduces both the amount of heat produced and electricity consumed. This process is called undervolting.

Some CPUs can automatically undervolt the processor depending on the workload; this technology is called "SpeedStep" on Intel processors, "PowerNow!"/"Cool'n'Quiet" on AMD chips, LongHaul on VIA CPUs, and LongRun with Transmeta processors.
  • Power supply

Desktop computer power supplies (PSUs) are generally 70–75% efficient, dissipating the remaining energy as heat.

An industry initiative called 80 PLUS certifies PSUs that are at least 80% efficient; typically these models are drop-in replacements for older, less efficient PSUs of the same form factor.

As of July 20, 2007, all new Energy Star 4.0-certified desktop PSUs must be at least 80% efficient.

  • Storage

Smaller form factor (e.g. 2.5 inch) hard disk drives often consume less power than physically larger drives.

Unlike hard disk drives, solid-state drives store data in flash memory or DRAM. With no moving parts, power consumption may be reduced somewhat for low capacity flash based devices.

Even at modest sizes, DRAM based SSDs may use more power than hard disks, (e.g., 4GB i-RAM uses more power and space than laptop drives). Flash based drives are generally slower for writing than hard disks.

  • Video Card

A fast GPU may be the largest power consumer in a computer.

Energy efficient display options include:

  • No video card - use a shared terminal, shared thin client, or desktop sharing software if display required.
  • Use motherboard video output - typically low 3D performance and low power.
  • Reuse an older video card that uses little power; many do not require heatsinks or fans.
  • Select a GPU based on average wattage or performance per watt

  • Display

LCD monitors typically use a cold-cathode fluorescent bulb to provide light for the display. Some newer displays use an array of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in place of the fluorescent bulb, which reduces the amount of electricity used by the display.
  • Materials recycling

Computer systems that have outlived their particular function can be repurposed, or donated to various charities and non-profit organizations. However, many charities have recently imposed minimum system requirements for donated equipment. Additionally, parts from outdated systems may be salvaged and recycled through certain retail outlets and municipal or private recycling centers.

Recycling computing equipment can keep harmful materials such as lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium out of landfills, but often computers gathered through recycling drives are shipped to developing countries where environmental standards are less strict than in North America and Europe. The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition estimates that 80% of the post-consumer e-waste collected for recycling is shipped abroad to countries such as China, India, and Pakistan.

Computing supplies, such as printer cartridges, paper, and batteries may be recycled as well.

  • Telecommuting

Teleconferencing and telepresence technologies are often implemented in green computing initiatives. The advantages are many; increased worker satisfaction, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions related to travel, and increased profit margins as a result of lower overhead costs for office space, heat, lighting, etc.

The savings are significant; the average annual energy consumption for U.S. office buildings is over 23 kilowatt hours per square foot, with heat, air conditioning and lighting accounting for 70% of all energy consumed.

Other related initiatives, such as hotelling, reduce the square footage per employee as workers reserve space only when they need it. Many types of jobs -- sales, consulting, field service -- integrate well with this technique.

Voice over IP (VoIP) reduces the telephony wiring infrastructure by sharing the existing Ethernet copper. VoIP and phone extension mobility also made Hot desking and more practical.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Go for Green

By Ragunathan Santiagoo and Wong Yee Shian

The advance science and technology have made ways to minimize independence on soil for plant cultivation. The Hydroponics from the Greek words hydro (water) and ponos (labour) is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel or mineral wool.

Plant physiology researchers discovered in the 19th century that plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water. In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth. When the mineral nutrients in the soil dissolve in water, plant roots are able to absorb them. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant’s water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive. Almost any terrestrial plant will grow with hydroponics, but some will do better than others.

There are two main types of hydroponics technique. They are solution culture and medium culture. Solution culture does not use a solid medium for the roots, just the nutrient solution. The medium culture method has a solid medium for the roots and is named for the type of medium, e.g. sand culture, gravel culture or rockwool culture.

Advantages of Hydrophonic Method

Compared to the conventional cultivation method it has various advantages. The farmer has full control on the crops, can be planted densely with less rate of fertilizer usage. The crop can also be harvested faster without deteoration of bad climate and pesticides usage. It is capable of producing 2000 tonnes of tomato per hectare per year of land compared to the conventional cultivation of at 50 to 100 tonnes per hectare per year. Saves an incredible amount of water; it uses as little as 1/20 the amount as a regular farm to produce the same amount of food. Hydroponics technology has made high altitude crops species able to be cultivated in temperate climate in Malaysia. Salad Webb Wonderful Lolla Blonda The hydroponics technique is suitable for variety of crops in Malaysia such as in the following.

Type of crop suitable for hydroponics cultivation in Malaysia Crop Category

Vegetable - Salad, cabbage, tomato, chilli, cucumber
Flowers - Rose, orchid
Herbs - Chives, mint, parsley, sage, thyme
Fruits - Banana, watermelon
(Source:Terangganu Hydroponics Association, 2006)

The most common technique used in hydrophonic cultivation for farming in malaysia is the continuous flow culture which are known as the “nutrient film technique”. In this technique the nutrient solution constantly flows past the roots. Whereby a very shallow stream of water containing all the dissolved nutrients required for plant growth is recirculated past the bare roots of plants in a watertight gully, also known as channels. Ideally, the depth of the recirculating stream should be very shallow, little more than a film of water, hence the name ‘nutrient film’. A properly designed NFT system is based on using the right channel slope, the right flow rate and the right channel length.

Do It Yourself (DIY)

As for beginners or any household may try them which is relatively easy to be carried out. Plants can be grown in containers of nutrient solution such as, plastic buckets, tubs or tanks. The solution is kept low enough that sufficient roots are above the solution so they get adequate oxygen. A hole is cut in the lid of the reservoir for each plant. A homemade system can be constructed from plastic food containers with aeration provided by an aquarium pump, aquarium airline tubing and aquarium valves. Clear containers are covered with aluminium foil, butcher paper, black plastic or other material to exclude light, thus helping to eliminate the formation of algae. The nutrient solution is changed on a schedule, such as once per week.


Hydrophonic technique of plant cultivation may serve as a solution for food shortage due to the rapid industrialization and global environmental changes. The basics of this technology can be explored by starting our own vegetable cultivation in the kitchen yard. Without doubt it will produce much yield and benefits to its owner if the culture is made with a little attention. Let us go green Malaysian, cultivate your own food, it may worth a lot for the embraces.


Kenney, Brad P. 2006. Success under glass. American Vegetable Grower. May, pages 12-13

Green Building

By Ahmad Firdaus bin Ahmad Fuad
Environmental Analysis Group, Malaysia

Green Buildings are eco friendly, reduce operating costs, increase marketability of the building and enhance the owners’ corporate image as they also increase productivity of the occupants and reduce potential liability resulting from poor indoor air quality problem.

Green building is the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings use resources — energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building's lifecycle, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal.

Green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:

  • Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
  • Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
  • Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation

Studies of people working in green buildings have reported productivity gains of 16%, including reduction in absenteeism and improved quality of work. Essentially, Green Building designs incorporate positive environmental, economic and social elements that benefit all building stake holders, including owners, occupants and the general public.

Green Buildings, sometimes referred to as “Sustainable Buildings” or “Environmental Buildings”, are designed to enhance energy efficiency, promote renewal energy, reduce air-conditioning costs and improve indoor environment quality (both temperature and relative humidity), and in the process, enabling owners to reap financial incentives under the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism.

While some countries in the region like India, Singapore and Australia have developed their own Green Building Councils and Rating Standards derived from the LEED in the US, Malaysia is still in the process of forming a Green Building Council, while even countries like Vietnam have taken a lead.

Malaysia needs to hasten the process to catch up with the world as many countries have gone even further.

Many countries have developed their own standards of energy efficiency for buildings. Above some examples of building environmental assessment tools currently in use:

  • Flag of Australia Australia: Nabers / Green Star
  • Flag of Brazil Brazil: AQUA / LEED Brasil
  • Flag of Canada Canada: LEED Canada / Green Globes
  • Flag of the People's Republic of China China: GBAS
  • Flag of Finland Finland: PromisE
  • Flag of France France: HQE
  • Flag of Germany Germany: DGNB
  • Flag of Hong Kong Hong Kong: HKBEEM
  • Flag of India India: LEED India/ TerriGriha
  • Flag of Italy Italy: Protocollo Itaca
  • Flag of Mexico Mexico: LEED Mexico
  • Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands: BREEAM Netherlands
  • Flag of New Zealand New Zealand: Green Star NZ
  • Flag of Portugal Portugal: Lider A
  • Flag of Singapore Singapore: Green Mark
  • Flag of South Africa South Africa: Green Star SA
  • Flag of Spain Spain: VERDE
  • Flag of the United States United States: LEED/Green Globes
  • Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom: BREEAM

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Biodiversity Heat Maps

The Biodivertido blog has produced an excellent heat map of biodiversity data. The heat map comes with a slider so that it is possible to adjust the transparency of the heat map overlay. It is also possible to adjust the quality of the rendering of the heat map.

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