A bulletin of the IEEE Computer Society Special Technical Community on Sustainable Computing
Providing quick access to timely information on sustainable computing.
We are living in a highly dynamic and quickly changing world. Some things are clearly changing to the better, whereas other aspects provide us with significant challenges. There are constantly countless reminders of many aspects that yet have to be improved for our society, economy, and environment to become sustainable. This includes (but is definitely not limited to) the ongoing migration crisis, wars, environmental disasters, global warming, and many other ongoing humanitarian and environmental crises. We only have one planet, and we must take care of it together! Referring to the goals of our STC, for example, our community can play an important role in (i) facilitating computing for sustainability, as well as (ii) promoting the design and implementation of sustainable computing. Such efforts will help towards making both ICT and non-ICT processes become more sustainable. Addressing both these goals may be particularly important as we are moving into the age of big data and everything may become connected through the Internet of Things, for example. With increasing information and data at our hands, computing and analytics is expected to play an important role in helping us find new and better solutions to both new and existing problems. However, it is also important to remember that all computing must be done efficiently and with infrastructure that does not add to the problems. As we go into 2016, I hope that we as a community can help tackle all these important challenges and I look forward to reading about all of your contributions.
PS. If you are interested in contributing to the STC or to the newsletter, please contact myself (Niklas Carlsson) or our excellent newsletter editor Cristina Rottondi. (We are looking for both technical and non-technical contributions accessible to everybody.)
We are excited to announce the launch of the new IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Computing (T-SUSC)! It is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to publishing high-quality papers that explore the different aspects of sustainable computing, over a wide range of problem domains and technologies from software and hardware designs to applications. Sustainability includes energy efficiency, natural resources preservation, and use of multiple energy sources as needed in computing devices and infrastructure.
Solutions for these problems call upon a wide range of algorithmic and computational frameworks, such as optimization, machine learning, decision support systems, meta-heuristics, and game-theory. Contributions to T-SUSC must address sustainability problems in computing and information processing environments and technologies, and at different levels of the computational process.
The T-SUSC Editor-in-chief for the 2016-2018 triennium is our Communication Chair Albert Zomaya: congratulations to him on this prestigious appointment and the warmest wishes from the STC community for a great success!! Dr. Zomaya is currently the Chair Professor of High Performance Computing & Networking and Director of the Centre for Distributed and High Performance Computing in the School of Information Technologies, The University of Sydney. Prior to his current appointment he was a Full Professor in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department at the University of Western Australia, where he also led the Parallel Computing Research Laboratory during the period 1990–2002. He served as Associate–, Deputy–, and Acting–Head in the same department, held numerous visiting positions and has extensive industry involvement.
Dr. Zomaya published more than 500 scientific papers and articles and is author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books. He served as the Editor in Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Computers (2011-2014). Currently, Dr. Zomaya serves as associate editor for 22 leading journals, such as, the ACM Computing Surveys, IEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing, IEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems, and Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing. Dr. Zomaya is the Founding Editor of the Wiley Book Series on Parallel and Distributed Computing.
Dr. Zomaya was the Chair the IEEE Technical Committee on Parallel Processing (1999–2003) and currently serves on its executive committee. He is the Vice–Chair, IEEE Task Force on Computational Intelligence for Cloud Computing and serves on the advisory board of the IEEE Technical Committee on Scalable Computing and the steering committee of the IEEE Technical Area in Green Computing.
Dr. Zomaya is a Fellow of the IEEE, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (UK). He received the 1997 Edgeworth David Medal from the Royal Society of New South Wales for outstanding contributions to Australian Science. Dr. Zomaya is the recipient of the IEEE Technical Committee on Parallel Processing Outstanding Service Award (2011), the IEEE Technical Committee on Scalable Computing Medal for Excellence in Scalable Computing (2011), and the IEEE Computer Society Technical Achievement Award (2014). His research interests span several areas in parallel and distributed computing and complex systems.
More information on the T-SUSC scope, call for papers and paper submission guidelines can be found here:
The Green Climate Fund Could Reshape the Economics of Sustainable Computing (PDF version)
my peers literally laughed out loud . Now, several communities have explored a wide range of sustainable computing
issues. With projects like the NetZero Data Center , Parasol  and iSwitch , researchers have laid the intellectual
ground work to manage the carbon emissions caused by a data center. Research on the intellectual basis for carbon-
aware resource management has also blossomed , , , , , , , , .To be sure, this list is not nearly
exhaustive, but it does highlight the diversity of top venues that look for papers on sustainable computing.
Even though sustainable computing is gaining steam intellectually. Critics on the business side of computer science research remain unconvinced. I am sure many of you have at some point received a critique like the following:
“I cannot assign merit to the work beyond the warm feeling of doing something for mother earth.” – Anonymous reviewer
The critics of sustainable computing focus on three arguments. First, they claim that any expense put to lowering
carbon emissions does not increase profit and therefore is purely an intellectual matter. Second, they feel there is no
need for computer science reseachers to become experts on the subject, since presumably their are other researchers in the world that understand environment issues. Finally, and this is a big one, many reviewers will claim that energy prices are a
small part of overall data center expenses. As a result, even efforts at energy efficiency can be viewed skeptically.
I believe all of these criticisms can be silenced by the Green Climate Fund  (GCF), a banking platform finalized during
the 2015 Paris Climate talks. The GCF will manage roughly $100B per year, providing loans and grants for technologies
in developing countries that reduce carbon emissions.
Fig. 1: The costs of hosting 10 computing racks, estimated by The Cloud Calculator.
Fig. 2: Cost savings as a function of interest rate.
Figure 1 plots costs to (1) build a 10-rack data center and (2) lease co-location space for 10 racks . It highlights the role of interest. 7% interest over a 3-year evaluation period constitutes about 20% of total costs. The GCF will have the ability to alter
its interest rates, providing considerable savings to sustainable data centers. Figure 2 plots the cost savings for the data center
owner as a function of the GCF interest rate reduction. We assume (as critics wrongly claim) that sustainable data centers increase electricity costs by 30% (expensive) or 10% (cheap). A reduction of 1.5 basis points (i.e., an effective rate of 5.5%)
is enough to justify the 30% increase in energy costs. Data center owners could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I hope the GCF considers data centers as it looks to influence the reduction of greenhouse gasses. We all know the IT sector contributes significantly to global emissions (well over 2% ). Reconsider Figure 1, the cost of building a
data center from the ground up (excluding servers) is just over $1M. An investment of 2% by the GCF would cover nearly
2,000 data centers annually— that could spark and sustain a boom in sustainable data centers.
 T. C. Calculator. Data center build versus buy. http://www.thecloudcalculator.com.
 N. Deng, C. Stewart, D. Gmach, M. Arlitt, and J. Kelley. Adaptive green hosting. In Proceedings of the 9th international conference on Autonomic computing, pages 135–144. ACM, 2012.
 N. Deng, C. Stewart, and J. Li. Concentrating renewable energy in
grid-tied datacenters. In ISSST, pages 1–6. IEEE, 2011.
 G. C. Fund. Green climate fund home. http://www.greenclimate.fund.
 P. X. Gao, A. R. Curtis, B. Wong, and S. Keshav. It’s not easy being green. In Proc. of SIGCOMM, pages 211–222. ACM, 2012. and greenswitch: managing datacenters powered by renewable energy. In Proc. of ASPLOS’13, pages 51–64. ACM, 2013.
 I. Goiri, W. Katsak, K. Le, T. D. Nguyen, and R. Bianchini. Parasol
 I. Goiri, K. Le, T. D. Nguyen, J. Guitart, J. Torres, and R. Bianchini. Greenhadoop: leveraging green energy in data-processing frameworks. In Proc. of EuroSys, pages 57–70, 2012.
 S. Lee, R. Urgaonkar, R. Sitaraman, and P. Shenoy. Cost minimization using renewable cooling and thermal energy storage in cdns. In Autonomic Computing (ICAC), 2015 IEEE International Conference on, pages 121–126. IEEE, 2015.
 C. Li, A. Qouneh, and T. Li. iswitch: coordinating and optimizing renewable energy powered server clusters. In Proc. of ISCA, pages 512–523, 2012.
 Z. Liu, Y. Chen, C. Bash, A. Wierman, D. Gmach, Z. Wang, M. Marwah, and C. Hyser. Renewable and cooling aware workload management for sustainable data centers. In Proc. of SIGMETRICS, pages 175–186, 2012.
 C. Ren, D. Wang, B. Urgaonkar, and A. Sivasubramaniam. Carbon-aware energy capacity planning for datacenters. In Proc. of
MASCOTS, pages 391–400. IEEE, 2012.
 S. Ren and M. A. Islam. Colocation demand response: Why do i turn off my servers. Proc. of USENIX ICAC, 2014.
 N. Sharma, S. Barker, D. Irwin, and P. Shenoy. Blink: managing server clusters on intermittent power. In Proc. of ASPLOS, pages 185–198, 2011.
 C. Stewart and K. Shen. Some joules are more precious than others: Managing renewable energy in the datacenter. In Proc. of HotPower, 2009.
 Z. Xu, N. Deng, C. Stewart, and X. Wang. Cadre: Carbon-aware data replication for geo-diverse services. In IEEE ICAC, 2015.
Personal webpage: https://profiles.stanford.edu/james-landay
Favorite experiences among all the roles including researcher, lab director, professor, as well as entrepreneur in both academia and industry
In academia, the most enjoyable part is to work with undergraduate and graduate students in different ways. It is fun to work on things that will play out in the future, i.e. ten to fifteen years ahead of existing product solutions. Teaching students is definitely an important part of this process. With respect to industry, I worked as a CTO of a startup, a researcher for Microsoft Research (MSR) and a lab director for Intel. When working for large companies like MSR and Intel, the goal was to leverage more resources to build bigger things. For big companies, strategy and communications are always important, while for startups, developing and building out ideas to get things out fast is always critical.
Opinions on how Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is going to impact human behavior hence impacting sustainable computing
For sustainable computing, there are three goals: first, to make better policy decisions & city planning (e.g. to build a city and transportation infrastructure to be more sustainable); second, to develop computing & sensing technologies that enable more efficient systems and to measure human behavior; and third, to build HCI interfaces that use measured behavior to provide feedback and thus shape more sustainable human behavior. For activity sensing, we do not only need faster and cheaper devices, but also want those to be of smaller size and with more user-friendly interfaces.
Thoughts about emerging sustainable computing systems
Aging has been a critical problem for both citizens in the USA and in China. Societies and economies lack sufficient labor resources to care for seniors as they age. One project we worked on at Intel Seattle Lab was to leverage sensing, & machine learning methodologies as well as user interface designs to build systems for helping seniors age in place (i.e., in their own homes). This type of systems allows people to take care of themselves with support from their families. These same technologies can also be used for other health issues, including obesity, by helping people to achieve their goals in, for example, eating and exercise.
Takeaways for young students/researchers/entrepreneurs
To students and young researchers: try far out risky things and get out of your comfort zone. To researchers: look at the diversity of users in the world and pay attention to the concerns of the global population. Do not only solve problems for rich people.
Journal Papers Due
Sustainable Computing (Open)
IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Computing (Open)