Green and Clueless

How many times have I seen Mike Manos stand in front of a crowd and ask "How many you know electricity bill?"  The numbers are going up, but still less than 25% is the average.

NYTimes reports on air conditioning use in NYC.

Richard Perry/The New York Times

When utilities are covered, as in the building above, tenants do not seem to pay heed to effects like carbon emissions.

“My A.C. is pretty much running 24/7,” Kitty’s owner, Michael Perlo, a 28-year-old television producer, said with more bravado than guilt. “Not having to pay for electricity makes me a little bit more reckless.”

The following behavior describes what happens when you think utilities are included in your data center operations, and its part of the rent you pay.

Forget round-the-clock doormen or views of Central Park. This sweltering summer, the most coveted New York real estate amenity is two little words that in other times can go unnoticed: “utilities included.” Mr. Perlo and his neighbors live in a building where not just heat and hot water, but electricity, is part of their monthly rent — a more-common-than-you’d-think arrangement caused by old-fashioned wiring in which a building has a single “master meter” tracking power use rather than individual meters tied to each tenant. They can blast their air-conditioners all summer long without paying a dollar extra.

An interesting human behavior is described in Newsweek.

Green and Clueless

Even people who want to ‘save the planet’ have no idea what they’re doing.


Scientists led by Shahzeen Attari of the Earth Institute at Columbia University surveyed 505 Americans (recruited through Craigslist), asking them to name the best ways to conserve energy. The most common answers had to do with curtailing use (by turning off lights or driving less, for instance) rather than improving efficiency (installing more efficient lightbulbs and appliances, say). But it is energy efficiency that offers the only possibility for dialing back our voracious consumption of energy and the fossil fuels that generate it. The reason is basic psychology: we are just not going to become a nation of pedestrians, let alone do without all our electronic toys. The only hope is therefore to continue satisfying those materialistic needs but with less electricity and gasoline.

Here is some interesting energy trivia.

And the ignorance continued. The scientists next asked people to estimate how much energy different appliances used and how much different behaviors saved. More said line-drying clothes saves more than changing the washing-machine settings (the reverse is true). Most people also think trucks and trains that transport goods use about the same energy; in fact, trucks use 10 times more to move one ton of goods one mile. Most people also said that making a glass bottle takes less energy than making an aluminum can (the reverse is true: a glass bottle requires 1.4 times as much energy as the can when virgin materials are used, and 20 times as much when recycled materials are used; making a recycled glass bottle actually takes more energy than making a virgin aluminum can).

And punchline, the CLUELESS.

Here’s my favorite: participants who said they did lots of environmentally responsible things on the energy front actually had less accurate perceptions of all this—suggesting that while people may think they’re doing the planet good, they are not. The notion of making “informed choices” is great, but it kind of requires being, well, informed. What we have instead, it seems, is rampant ignorance. The real problem, Attari told me, is that when people pick the easy things, the low-hanging fruit, they figure they’ve done their bit for the environment and then don’t take steps that could actually make a difference.

Makes me think of all the data center people focusing on PUE, LEED and energy efficient mechanical, but less than 10% are thinking of how to provide the energy consumption information to their users of IT to get them thinking of how to use less energy.

But if you don't pay the bill.  Who cares?  Maybe the CFO or COO will.