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The Impact of office productivity cloud computing on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

Williams, D. R. and Tang, Y. (2013) The Impact of office productivity cloud computing on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental Science Technology, 47 (9). pp. 4333-4340. ISSN 0013-936X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1021/es3041362


Cloud computing is usually regarded as being energy efficient and thus emitting less greenhouse gases (GHG) than traditional forms of computing. When the energy consumption of Microsoft’s cloud computing Office 365 (O365) and traditional Office 2010 (O2010) software suites were tested and modeled, some cloud services were found to consume more energy than the traditional form. The developed model in this research took into consideration the energy consumption at the three main stages of data transmission; data center, network, and end user device. Comparable products from each suite were selected and activities were defined for each product to represent a different computing type. Microsoft provided highly confidential data for the data center stage, while the networking and user device stages were measured directly. A new measurement and software apportionment approach was defined and utilized allowing the power consumption of cloud services to be directly measured for the user device stage. Results indicated that cloud computing is more energy efficient for Excel and Outlook which consumed less energy and emitted less GHG than the standalone counterpart. The power consumption of the cloud based Outlook (8%) and Excel (17%) was lower than their traditional counterparts. However, the power consumption of the cloud version of Word was 17% higher than its traditional equivalent. A third mixed access method was also measured for Word which emitted 5% more GHG than the traditional version. It is evident that cloud computing may not provide a unified way forward to reduce energy consumption and GHG. Direct conversion from the standalone package into the cloud provision platform can now consider energy and GHG emissions at the software development and cloud service design stage using the methods described in this research.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Business Informatics, Systems and Accounting
ID Code:35125
Publisher:ACS Publications
Publisher Statement:Information can be found at

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