|Shawn Hill, desktop
support specialist, front,
and Catalino Cuadrado, junior instructional media specialist, send a
document to a printer in the Science Tower Computing Lab. Three printers in
the lab are set up for duplex printing, which is just one way Wesleyan is
implementing "green" computing methods.
Wesleyan Advances Green Computing Methods
First came green energy, then green chemistry,
and now Wesleyan is exploring green computing as another way to fight global
climate change and become a more sustainable institution and community.
“We are in the process of implementing several green computing ideas to
support the university’s mission to become a responsible environmental
steward,” explains Ganesan “Ravi” Ravishanker, associate vice president for
Information Technology Services.
In November 2007, President Michael Roth signed the American College and
University Presidents Climate Commitment, stating that Wesleyan will
exercise leadership in the community by modeling ways to eliminate global
warming emissions and leave a smaller environmental footprint.
As a result, ITS created a Green Computing Committee. The group meets
regularly to discuss technology policy, software, and hardware changes that
ITS can initiate so Wesleyan faculty, staff and students use technology more
sustainability. They have been working on ways to save energy, minimize
electronic waste, purchase chemical-free equipment, and promote green
“We can all do things at the office and at home to make our technology-based
environment a little greener,” says Shawn Hill, desktop support specialist
and head of the Green Computing Committee.
The Green Computing Committee is working with Academic Affairs and
Administrative departments to phase out older computers and monitors on
campus when possible. Older computer and monitors are more inefficient than
This past summer, using an energy usage monitoring tool, ITS tested a
variety of computer models found at Wesleyan and estimates that a Mac G5
computer without a monitor (for example) can cost Wesleyan up to $270 a year
in electric bills, whereas a Mac 17-inch laptop can costs only about $30.
Old, bulky CRT monitors cost up to $120 a year to power, whereas the slim
LCD monitors may only cost $25 annually. Old Wesleyan monitors are recycled
at the Exley Science Center loading dock off Pine Street.
Students can help reduce carbon emissions by simply turning off their
monitors, or shutting down their computer when they are away. The cost of
electricity in Wesleyan’s wood-framed homes is about 66 percent more
expensive than on campus, according to Physical Plant.
“While using the ‘Power Management’ settings of your computer does save
energy, it is always better to shut the computer off if you plan not to use
it for a stretch of time,” Ravishanker advises. “This will not only save
energy, but it will extend the life of your computer.”
About 600 faculty and staff office computers have been part of a night-time
remote backup service, requiring users to leave their machines running
24-hours a day. ITS is currently experimenting with morning computer
backups, a process that would eliminate the need to leave machines
“Users on the morning backup schedule may experience slower response times
when the backup is occurring, but we believe that users who volunteer for
this backup schedule will appreciate being able to help reduce Wesleyan’s
carbon emissions,” Hill notes.
He estimates that up to $185 a year – per computer – could be saved by those
electing for day-time backups. Another option is to back up computers
manually, a simple process that can be explained by any of Wesleyan’s
desktop support specialists.
Printers – especially the massive office units – are the largest
energy-eaters of all, costing Wesleyan up to $440 a year each in electricity
charges when left on 24-hours a day. A simple solution is to power them off
after office hours, or whenever they are not in use.
“When possible, we should avoid printing on paper,” Hill says. “Readings,
assignments and documents can be distributed in electronic format, and the
recipients can reduce paper usage by reading documents on the screen and
using the track changes feature in Microsoft Word to mange edits.”
If printing is the only option, the Green Computing Committee suggests you
send the document to printers that offer duplex printing to minimize paper
waste. Newer printers, such as one in the Science Library and four in the
Science Tower Lab, have the ability to print on both sides of a piece of
ITS also is implementing automated power supplies, which work on an electric
timer and shut down computers and printers when students’ computer labs are
closed. These timers can be programmed from a touch-screen in ITS.
“We are finding resources to purchase more of these power supplies, and
hopefully within a year we’ll have all 60 of Wesleyan’s multimedia rooms on
automated timers,” says Heric Flores, manager of Instructional Media
Services. “They will pay for themselves in about three years.”
Flores already installed the automated units in Beckham Hall, where audio
amplifiers, mixers, speakers and other equipment were powered 24-hours a
day. The average use time of this equipment is three hours a day.
“Even when they were in ‘sleep mode,’ we were still wasting 2,000 watts of
electricity a day by leaving them on all the time.”
That’s equal to running 20, 100-watt lights all day at a cost of about 40
cents an hour. In time, the bill runs high.
Computers themselves also are going green. Wesleyan is working towards
buying environmentally friendly hardware based on Electronic Product
Environmental Assessments Tool (EPEAT) standards. EPEAT evaluates electronic
products in relation to 51 environmental criteria such as elimination of
lead, mercury, plasticizers in certain applications; using post-consumer
recycled plastic or renewable/bio-based plastic materials; packaging devices
in marked, recyclable materials; and adopting ENERGY STAR specifications.
“We’re hoping to buy energy-efficient computers with lead-free chips,
recyclable plastic parts and efficient power supplies,” Hill says. “When one
of these green computer is retired, our hope is that we can recycle a
significant percentage of the components, producing minimal electronic
The Green Computing Committee has set up a blog open to the campus community
The blog provides suggestions
for more economical, environmentally-friendly uses of technology. The
committee encourages the Wesleyan community to share their own green
computing ideas via the blog.
“We hope you’ll use this blog to learn more about institutional and personal
changes that can make a difference here at Wesleyan and in your life
off-campus,” Hill says. “We would like all students, faculty and staff to
think sustainable when making technology decisions here at Wesleyan and
of-campus as well.”
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection