2008 Strategies for Green IT at Penn:Desktops and endusers:Final Recommendations
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Important note: this page was part of a past product evaluation team which last convened more than 18 months ago. The information included may be outdated or obsolete.
The information below is the summary of the Desktop and End-User group efforts. While not an exhaustive list of everything that can be done to increase Penn's IT environmental sustainability, there are suggestions for most areas on campus.
Personal printers should be the exception rather than the rule. Departments should create guidelines where personal printers should be deployed for individuals that need to print confidential information (like Business administrators). Larger multi-function printers (MFPs) should be deployed as the standard group printer in an office. These are significantly more energy and toner efficient, and have a smaller up-front cost than deploying many smaller capacity printers across a department.
Consider solid ink printers when looking to replace a color printer. The Xerox Phaser 8560 and 8860 both use this low waste technology. See the Xerox website on their solid ink offerings for more information.
Printers and/or printer drivers should be set to print duplex by default. Individuals may override this setting for special print-jobs, but by making duplex the default setting, offices will see significant reduction in paper usage.
HP printers can be managed with HP's Web JetAdmin to pre-set sleep and wake modes for evenings and weekends. Ideally, printers should be shut off over the weekend as part of the office closing procedures on Friday afternoons.
If your office must have them, purchase ink jet printers that use single-color ink cartridges, rather than printers which contain several colors in a single cartridge. This prevents you from having to replace all of the colors, rather than only the colors that have run out of ink. Be sure to recycle the used cartridges rather than throw them away.
Purchase high capacity toner cartridges when possible. These require less plastic to manufacture, and less energy and packing materials to ship. For example: One high capacity Hewlett Packard cartridge (Q5949x) has more than double the printing capacity and costs less than two standard cartridges (Q5949a).
- Replace CRT monitors at the end of their useful life with LCD monitors. LCD monitors use significantly less energy (and therefore cost less to run), generate less heat, take up less space, cause less damage to the environment when discarded, and weigh less (easier to carry and have a smaller carbon footprint when shipped).
- Purchase multiple pieces of equipment from the same vendor at the same time to reduce cost and carbon footprint associated with multiple shipments.
- Request fewer manuals and copies of drivers/installation media when placing bulk equipment orders.
- Maintenance (disc defragmentation, cleaning the Windows registry, etc.) or re-imaging can improve computer performance and extend the product lifecycle, preventing the need to purchase new equipment.
- Purchase small form factor machines/laptops/thin clients in environments where expandability is not needed and requirements permit.
- Consider purchasing solid-state drives instead of traditional hard drive technologies in order to reduce power consumption. As the technology evolves, these drives will increase in capacity, and decrease in price.
- Factor in energy consumption of equipment when evaluating hardware. Make sure that the hardware you purchase meets Energy Star requrements.
- Do not buy a bigger monitor than you need. A 17" monitor can use 30% more energy than a 15" monitor.
- Turn your computer (and other equipment) off overnight, over the weekends, and during other periods of non-use (including during a lunch break or during meetings when appropriate). It is a misconception that this practice can shorten the lifespan of your machine, and in fact it can extend the life of the computer and hard drives, as well as considerably cut the cost of running them. Leaving computers turned on also generates a considerable amount of heat (especially when you look at the hundreds of computers in a single building, or the thousands of computers across the University), thus increasing the need and cost of cooling.
- Most computers continue to draw some electricity when powered down but plugged in. Use power strips to turn off several pieces of equipment simultaneously and cut all energy consumption.
- Sleep vs. Hibernate: computers in 'sleep' or 'stand-by' mode continue to draw power from your battery or AC outlet, albeit at a much reduced rate. Use the 'hibernate' mode if your computer offers it, as it saves your computer's working state, but powers down completely. Remember to also unplug the computer as you would if you simply turned off the machine.
- Schedule virus scans and software updates during the workday to allow machines to be shut down overnight.
- Clean the inside of your computer periodically with a can of compressed air (do not shake the can) to reduce heat build-up caused by dust and to increase the lifespan of your machine.
- Use (and RE-use) rewritable CD-RW, DVD-RW, and BD-RE discs instead of single-use CD-R, DVD-R, and BD-R when possible. More preferably, when storing or transferring data, use a USB flash drive instead.
- Don't turn on your computer equipment until you need it.
- Don't use overhead room lighting if task-lighting or natural lighting is sufficient. Use energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. Do not use halogen lamps, which are wasteful and dangerous.
- Disable screen savers on LCD monitors. Screen savers are not necessary on modern LCD monitors, and can dramatically increase power consumption of a computer. Use the power management features on your monitor or operating system instead, or simply power down the monitor when not in use.
- Dim your monitor/laptop screen brightness to extend screen and battery life and reduce power consumption.
- Unplug devices after they finish charging.
- Purchase rechargeable batteries for your battery-powered devices like cameras, mp3 players, and remote controls.
- Dim the screen to reduce power consumption and extend battery life.
- Print as little as possible. Edit documents on screen rather than printing them out.
- Distribute documents electronically (as webpages, wikis, blogs, email, or PDFs) rather than making paper copies. Free utilities like CutePDF are available to those who don't want to spend money on Adobe's Acrobat Professional software.
- Reduce font size and margin size to reduce paper usage.
- Print on both sides of page whenever possible and appropriate.
- Print on the back side of scrap paper when possible.
- Print in black-and-white when color is not required.
- Set your printer to draft/ink-saving mode when you don't require high-quality printing.
- Due to health concerns, Place laser printers in well ventilated areas, and as far from humans as is reasonably possible.
Recycling and Disposal
Ebay started the The Rethink Initiative as a way to raise visibility of various electronics recycling efforts by manufacturers, governmental agencies, and other participants. There is a comprehensive list on the site of existing efforts and options within local communities for recycling electronics.
- Attempt to find another use for your equipment before discarding it: Can a workstation for a full-time staff person be repurposed as a machine for a student worker? Can it be sold or donated to another university department, to a local school, church, or non-profit organization? Can it be sold or donated via Craigslist or a similar site? Can some of the parts (RAM or hard drive, for example) be used to upgrade other equipment?
- Computer hardware often contains potentially dangerous or lethal substances like lead, mercury, or cadmium. As such, much of it is classified as hazardous waste by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dispose of computer hardware locally, legally, and responsibly. See the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection page or Penn's Computer Recycling and Disposal page for more information, as well as suggestions for proper disposal, such as with local companies like TBS Industries. It is a violation of Penn policy (http://www.finance.upenn.edu/vpfinance/fpm/1100/1100_pdf/1106.31.pdf) to place any electronic equipment in the trash.
- Currently there are no central locations on campus where used electronics may be dropped off for recycling or donation. The University should provide conveniently located dropboxes for items such as batteries, cellphones, ipods, and other handheld devices that pose an environmental risk if disposed of improperly. Suggested locations include Van Pelt Library and the Computer Connection.
- The University should sponsor well-advertised recycling days where collection and removal of old hardware is managed centrally, similar to the paper-shredding truck that appears periodically on campus. These days should be schedule to coincide with times hardware is generally disposed of by departments and students (end of semester, for example)
- Penn equipment donated or sold to other groups/institutions/employees should include information (preferably in the form of a sticker attached directly to the equipment itself) detailing how to responsibly dispose of the equipment locally. The University should also implement a takeback policy where possible to ensure proper disposal of equipment.
- Departments should recycle used printer ink/toner cartridges (these can often be returned to the manufacturer or to a third-party vendor), and purchase refurbished cartridges whenever possible. There is generally a financial incentive to do both.
- Well-marked paper recycling bins should be placed near printers, copiers, and doors to raise awareness of recycling and to make it as easy as possible for all involved.
- Departments should switch to office paper with a minimum of 35% post-consumer content. Paper with higher post-consumer content (available up to 100%) is preferable. Information on purchasing this and other green products is available from Penn Purchasing at http://www.purchasing.upenn.edu/buyinfo/how-to-buy-recycled.php
- When possible, save discarded paper to be used as scrap paper. Cut into smaller pieces for convenience and maximum efficiency.
- Be aware of how much electricty your computer and other equipment are using. Use a device such as a Kill-a-watt (these electricity meters can be purchased for a very small amount, and they are soon to be available to borrow at the Vitale Digital Media Lab in Van Pelt Library) to measure energy consumption.
- For rechargable items, while the power draw does decrease over time as devices are fully charged, there is still a "vampire" power draw all of the time. We recommend plugging all of these types of devices into a power strip, and switching it off at the end of the day.
- Sample Kill-A-Watt measurements of a typical power strip
- Approximate Desktop and Laptop power usage of computers in use at the University.
Recommendations for further Consideration
Companies like The Green School Project (GSP) will pay departments for inkjet and laser printer cartridges as well as cell phones and PDA devices. Wistar Institute is a current participant in this program.
GSP donates your funds received from recycled items to an environmental group of your choosing. Wistar donates to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum. When folks know who / what benefits from recycling, they tend to have more incentive to follow the plan.