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This week Environmental Leader looked at how federal agencies are using IT to reduce energy consumption. Federal agencies like NASA, the General Services Administration, the Department of Defense and the Smithsonian Institute are using information and communications technologies to reduce energy consumption and emissions as well as cutting costs and meeting sustainability mandates. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions recently released a report highlighting case studies of federal agencies using smarter building systems. NASA uses a geothermal system for heating and cooling, incorporates solar PV and advanced fuel cells to supply electricity and uses a gray water recycling system, which has reduced water consumption by 90 percent. The Department of Defense is attempting to advance sustainability through communications tools with outside parties.
Elsewhere, we recently learned about a PC app called Charity Engine, which raises money for charities by donating spare, unused computing time. Created by The Worldwide Computer Company, the grid works just like a giant supercomputer, and is hired by scientists and companies who need large-capacity computer systems for particular projects. PCs often spend time wasting electricity while waiting for the user to type or click. Charity Engine runs in the background without slowing down the computer, aiming for maximum efficiency. Every few months, profits from the grid are shared 50/50 between its charity partners and one volunteer who has Charity Engine running on their PC, chosen at random. Charity Engine’s official partners include ActionAid, Amnesty International, CARE, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, Practical Action, Sightsavers, War on Want and Water Aid. More charities will be added in future.