In this work, we propose a new energy efficiency metric which allows one to optimize the performance of a wireless system through a novel power control mechanism. The proposed metric possesses two important features. First, it considers the whole power of the terminal and not just the radiated power. Second, it can account for the limited buffer memory of transmitters which store arriving packets as a queue and transmit them with a success rate that is determined by the transmit power and channel conditions. Remarkably, this metric is shown to have attractive properties such as quasi-concavity with respect to the transmit power and a unique maximum, allowing to derive an optimal power control scheme. Based on analytical and numerical results, the influence of the packet arrival rate, the size of the queue, and the constraints in terms of quality of service are studied. Simulations show that the proposed cross-layer approach of power control may lead to significant gains in terms of transmit power compared to a physical layer approach of green communications.