Guidelines for Conservation with Computer and Office Equipment

Revision Date: March 15, 2011
Version: 1.00
  1. Partner with technology providers who demonstrate environmental sensitivity and effectiveness programs. 
  2. Practice proper disposal procedures for all your IT supplies and equipment -- recycle and reuse. See Computer disposal, donation, and recycle information from Computer Hope.com. 
  3. In requests for proposals (RFPs), ask questions related to vendors' manufacturing processes, such using environmentally sensitive materials or taking advantage of recycled plastics.
  4. Use more energy efficient servers and network equipment. See the US Government Energy Star Web site's Office Equipment for more information on Energy Star equipment. 
  5. Consider power needs and purchase low-power hardware whenever possible. Use the Consortium for Scholl Networking Initiative's computer equipment energy calculator to get an idea of how much energy computing equipment can cost. 
  6. Turn on the energy saving options and power-saving features for all your Energy-star enabled appliances and equipment. See UIUC CITES Guidelines for Energy Conservation and Computing Equipment, although see following point about turning computers off at night. 
    For computers, this means turning off the monitor and putting the computer and hard drives to sleep. Also turn off powered speakers (by hand).
    • Windows: Start Menu -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Power Options. This opens the Power Options Properties dialog box that allows you to set the times after which the computer, the monitor, and the hard disk go to sleep.
    • Mac OS: Select the Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Energy Saver. The Energy Saver dialog box allows you to set the times after which the computer, the monitor, and the hard disk go to sleep. I have my computer set to go to sleep when it is inactive for 90 minutes. 
  7. Encourage (or remotely force) all computers to be physically turned off at night.
    • For lab machines this is a good idea.
    • For desktop machines in offices, it is not. It is not compatible with ADSM backup, which runs on desktop machines overnight. It might also not be compatible with updating antivirus software. So at UIC, turning office desktop machines off overnight is not a good idea, but putting it in sleep mode and turning off monitors and speakers is. 
  8. Get rid of CRT monitors and replace them with LCD flat screens. LCD monitors are very good now and can be very reasonable in price.
  9. Printing options:
    1. Get rid of individual desktop printers and go with small group or department printers.
    2. Get rid of separate fax machines, scanners, printers, and copiers and go with one multi-function device, preferably Energy Star-qualified. Each individual machine that you have turned on uses a remarkable amount of electricity even when it isn't being used. (EnergyStar-qualified printers automatically enter a low-power “sleep” mode after a period of inactivity.)
    3. Charge students for their paper and toner costs.
    4. Set up monitoring reports for all the staff printing (to see who prints the most and who prints the least in a year).
    5. Add this statement to the bottom of each email message: Think before you print.
    6. Make double sided printing the default on every printer or multi-function device.
    7. Use recycled paper where possible. Recycled paper is getting better now -- less fraying into the printing/copying device.
    8. Put as many of your forms on-line and better yet make then data entry capable to people can submit them electronically.
    9. Use solid ink based printing devices versus laser ink toner cartridges.
    10. Turn printers off when they aren't being used; at least on nights and weekends. 
  10. Replace the old air exchange unit/chiller/conditioner in the data center with a more efficient one. (There is a lot of information in the Google search on "efficient chiller".) 
  11. Review the data center floor design, checking the hot-aisle and cold-aisle configurations, as well as proper placement of vented tiles. (According to Sun, "A hot-aisle/cold-aisle layout enables cool air to flow through the aisles to the systems' front air intake and enables heated air to flow away from the systems' back exhaust to the air conditioner return ducts." For more information, consult Rackmounting the Systems [pdf] in Sun Microsystem's "Site Planning Guide for Entry-Level Servers".

Other solutions

  1. Implement an online document management system.
  2. Implement an online resume or CV management system for interviewing new employees.
  3. Implement a course management system (CMS), such as like WebCT or Blackboard, so your students can submit assignments online.
  4. Implement a faculty tablet-PC program so they can mark up assignments online and put them back into the CMS.
  5. Implement an online time reporting system for time sheets.
  6. Implement online requisitions.

Further Information