Thursday, January 19, 2012

Green computing and the long-range IT plan

This is in response to the person who commented anonymously (Jan. 18, 5:26 p.m.) to the post seeking input on the long-range IT plan. S/he or he commented on the mixed opinions on whether or not to turn off computers at night. 

Thank you for the excellent posting. In 2010 we launched a Green IT initiative. Unfortunately it is on hold because of other priorities. This project will start up again later this year.

You are correct that turning off computers can save energy. This is one of the recommended actions on our web page. We need to overcome users' concerns that:
1) it may harm the computer to turn it on/off every day,
2) it is inconvenient to have to wait while the computer boots in the morning, and
3) the savings from powering off are negligible.

We need to educate the community to correct misperceptions.

The following story about the University of Arizona nicely illustrates your point:
"At the University of Arizona, campus sustainability through the reduction of energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions has become a vital mission. An estimated 45% of the 17,000 computers on campus are left on after standard working hours. This wastes up to 3 million kWh of electricity and releases an extra 2.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere a year, equivalent to the annual gas emissions from 250 cars. Just this lack of control over our computer hardware is costing the university an estimated $175,920 annually. What can you do? Just by changing a few simple actions, you can help improve energy management, increase energy efficiency, and reduce waste."

Jonathan Schaeffer
Vice-Provost and AVP Information Technology


  1. Sold! I will start turning my computer, and the power strip it's plugged in to, off every night.

    Here's to a greener environment, and a reduced power bill.

  2. Yes, undoubtedly this would work in many labs and offices. However, if someone turns off my server when I am entering a calculation by SSH tunneling from home, I will hunt them down and and spank their bottom with a paddle! It would also be useful to have the Universities in Alberta to lobby the provincial government to allow the use of solar cell technology in order to lower costs and, by returning excess energy to the grid, reduce the cost of electricity for the masses. This is one way in which the Germans are able to reduce green house gases and the costs of manufactured products and create additional jobs.

  3. Green computing is all the craze nowadays. Most web hosting companies put green hosting as their marketing forefront. I guess they are realizing the amount of resources consumed by computing power.


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