Discussion on the global climate crisis and Wesleyan’s role in providing leadership on this issue has been both informed and passionate. President Roth’s initial posting on the issue and the subsequent response by students, alumni, faculty and staff, have contributed to momentum towards helping Wesleyan become a more sustainable institution and community.
One component of this process has been President Roth’s commitment to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment which will encourage Wesleyan to “move the campus forward in concrete ways towards a smaller environmental footprint and climate neutrality” (taken from an email from the Sustainability Advisory Committee). In tandem with this institutional commitment, the Wesleyan community is being encouraged to individually pledge to work towards sustainability by signing a Community Climate Agreement which is available in the Personal Information section of the Electronic Portfolio.
We thought this is a good time to introduce some best practices regarding “Green Computing” as well as talk about what ITS will be doing in the next few months to contribute towards this worthy initiative. Each of these recommendations and suggestions provides you with the chance to make a difference. We urge you to adopt as many of the following suggestions as you can, and to reply to this blog with other ideas that you might have to add to the list.
- Turn Your Computer and Monitor Off: When you intend to leave for the evening, go through a full Shut Down, and then (if you have a separate monitor) turn off the monitor. While using the “Power Management” settings of your computer does save energy, and while in many cases, the difference between a computer and monitor that is on “energy saving mode” power vs. the computer and monitor that is fully shut down is very small, it is always better to shut the computer off if you plan not to use it for a stretch of time. This will extend the life of your computer and save energy at the same time. For an illustration of power usage for various devices on the Gustavus Adolphus College, click here. You should note that the cost of Electricity in Wesleyan’s wood frame houses and off –campus is roughly 66% more expensive than on campus, so turning your computers and monitors at home can add up to significant savings.
- Turning a computer off does not harm the computer: It is a myth that turning computers off and on creates surges that damage the computer. Here is relevant information from Ohio University Green Computing Guide which points out that the heat stress from being “on” is far more damaging to the computer than being turned on and off.
- Myth: It is bad to turn off the computer.
Truth: Computers are now designed to handle 40,000 on/off cycles. This is considerably more cycles than the average user will initiate in the computer’s 5-7 year life span. Turning your computer off helps reduce heat stress and wear on the system.
- Myth: It is bad to turn off the computer.
- Buy Green Computers: If you are looking to buy a new computer, take a few minutes to research the most “green” and environment friendly computer and peripherals that satisfies your functional needs. Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool – EPEAT provides an excellent rating system that includes not just the power management, but such details as whether they use recyclable material for packaging.
- Think about replacing the worst offenders: Take an inventory of computers in both your offices/labs as well as homes. Older computers and monitors tend to be very inefficient. Especially the bulky old CRT monitors. A CRT monitor can cost Wesleyan up to $120/year, whereas an LCD screen of the same size can cost Wesleyan up to $25/year. Similarly, a Mac G5 (without the monitor) can cost Wesleyan up to $270/year, whereas a Mac 17” laptop can cost Wesleyan up to $30/year in electricity costs. If you can afford to get rid of old inefficient technology, please do. We do offer recycling for computing equipment.
- Turn off printers when they are not being used and turn them on only when you need them:
Printers left on all year around can cost Wesleyan between $45 and $440 per year (!) in electrical charges.
- When possible, avoid printing on paper – read drafts on the screen, use the track changes feature to manage edits, print in smaller fonts (that are still comfortable to read) and use double sided printing (choosing appropriate paper on certain printers such as inkjet is important to avoid ink on the back side from showing on the front side). If you are a faculty member, consider making your readings, assignments, exams, etc. available in electronic format. If you want to learn more about how to do any of these, please contact your Academic Computing Manager or your Desktop Support Specialist.
We have formed a “Green Computing Committee” at ITS to look into and implement several other suggestions for reducing the energy usage of the computers and other systems that we support. In order to accomplish the items listed below, we need the cooperation of faculty members, students and staff. Several of them also will have serious financial impact. The committee will look at all of these factors and come up with a plan of implementation by late December.
- Backups: We currently offer a remote backup service for faculty and staff desktops. Those who signed up for this are asked to not switch their computers off when they leave. The reason for this is several-fold. Firstly, the majority of backups are scheduled to occur when you are out of the office so any slowdown due to the backup, occurs when you are away. Secondly, because the backup does not save files that are currently being worked on, scheduling the backup to occur when the majority of people are away from their desks insures that all files are backed-up. We plan to ask you if you are willing to schedule your backup during the day. This would require you to bear with a slight slow down in your computer’s response as it is backed-up, and to try to limit the number of open files during the backup period. Due to server capacity, not everyone can be backed up at the same time, so we would spread out the backups over the course of the day. Given that we have over 600 computers participating in this backup program currently, we are likely to see significant savings in energy consumption. Up to $185 per year, per computer could be saved.
- We are also researching other kinds of desktop backup software that would reduce the slowness caused by the backup.
- Public Computers: We will examine computers in the public computer labs and develop a workable policy to manage usage of these machines. One of the suggestions has been to replace separate PCs and Macs with a Mac Duos. However, we have to make sure that all applications work flawlessly on a Mac Duo before committing to doing this. A more attractive proposal is to implement an automated power management policy that shuts down the computers when the lab is closed (or when we are on semester breaks, etc.) .
- Duplex Printing: We will develop a workable plan for installing duplex capable printers in public labs. This requires significant financial commitment from us, so we need to look at the best way to roll out the plan and possibly give incentives for double sided printing.
- Environment-Friendly Purchases: We will commit to buying the most environment friendly hardware for central services. We have already begun doing this, but we will commit to consulting the EPEAT ratings for hardware before purchasing.
- EPEAT Ratings: Our computer store staff will be trained in “green computing” best practices, Energy Star and EPEAT ratings, so that they will be better positioned to answer questions from the customers about environmental friendly computers and peripherals.
- We will also look at various ways to indicate the ratings (using labels) on the computers and peripherals we sell in our computer store.