Going Green – How hard can it be?

We are all obliged to look after our planet and to minimise our impact on the environment. There are a number of campaigns and environmental groups telling us that we should reduce our CO2 emissions by taking public transport, reducing car usage, lowering our heating thermostats and installing energy efficient light bulbs. We are also obliged to recycle as much waste as we can.

The life blood of the service my team provides is electricity. We’ve got racks and racks of electricity consuming hardware that sucks in electricity on one side and throws out waste heat on the other. This waste heat then has to be cooled by electricity guzzling air conditioning units. All that electricity usage has an effect on CO2 emissions and there will be a carbon footprint associated with it. Sounds bad doesn’t it, but I’m not done yet. Most desks at Edge Hill have a Personal Computer on them and then we have the numerous open access areas filled with PCs. Each of these PCs comprises of base unit and a monitor both of which use electricity all day. Some of these PCs will be left on at weekends and in many cases overnight.

The good news is that Core Services is going to start to look at using more energy efficient servers, server virtualisation and recycling old servers. This will all help to reduce our carbon footprint and CO2 emissions.

The best news about going green is that it most people at Edge Hill can make a difference without any effort. According to the Carbon Trust, one PC left on all day will cost about £37 a year. But if switched off at night and at weekends, this drops to nearer £10 a year and saves an equivalent amount of energy to making 34,900 cups of coffee. We do need to start some where, and as it turns out it is not hard to start going green. To start you should simply;

Turn off your computer when it’s not being used !

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5 Responses to Going Green – How hard can it be?

  1. Mike Nolan says:

    Coffee coffee coffee!

  2. Stu says:

    Never fear we have a nifty utility to automatically shut the pc’s down at night that is already in use for a few places and due for campus wide deployment this summer! For computers that would have been left on all weekend this should save 60+ hours of wasted electricity and countless more hours from those left on overnight.

    Unfortunately the other problem we now have to worry about is all the monitors that are left on standby. Many staff will shut down the computer but leave that little orange light on their monitor burning away day and night for no reason.

    The final villian has to be the humble screensaver! From an article called “iT Doesn’t Matter” in the May 2003 edition of the Harvard Business Review –
    “A PC with a screensaver going can use well over 100 watts of power, compared with only about 10 watts in sleep mode. An analysis by the University of New Hampshire indicates that if an organization has 5,000 PCs that run screensavers 20 hours a week, the annual power consumed by those screensavers accounts for emissions of 750,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 5,858 pounds of sulfur oxide, and 1,544 pounds of nitrogen oxide.”
    The only way to combat this is to set our monitor standby times right down so that rather than see a screensaver after 10 minutes of inactivity your monitor goes to standby.

  3. Is there something we can do with the PCs to shutdown the monitors before hand ? Could we shut the monitor off instead of using screen savers?
    Given Mike’s comment we also need to find a way to carbon offset the coffee machine

  4. Mike Nolan says:

    With LCDs the standby mode would be almost as good as switched off with the button I’d have thought – only if you switched off at the wall would you gain significant extra savings. But at the very least we should be forcing monitor standby instead of screensavers and I’d set the delay to be little more than the lock on Windows. Having written that, I’ve never bothered to check what my work PC is so I shall do that tomorrow!

  5. Stu says:

    As it stands the default setting on our workstations is for the screensaver to come on after 10 min of inactivity and to lock the workstation (in reality you have about 30 seconds after the screensaver comes on to move the mouse before the workstation locks.) The default for monitor standby is 20 min so every pc that is left unattended will run the screensaver for 10 min before the monitor goes to standby.
    With monitors these days there is only a tiny delay to bring a monitor out of standby so the screensaver is rather surplus to requirements now, except for its ability to lock the workstation. I’m intending to recommend a new policy where the screensaver time and standby times are nearly identical at 10 and 11 min respectively. We should be able to set this at a global level using group policy.

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