UB Launches 'green-Computing' Campaign Designed to Cut Energy Waste, Costs Related to Campus Pc Use "We Should Treat Pcs More The Way We Do Light Bulbs…" -- Walter Simpson, University At Buffalo Energy Officer

Release Date: July 29, 1994 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo has launched a "green-computing" campaign aimed at cutting as much as 50 percent from its $300,000 annual cost for operating the estimated 8,000 personal computers in use on its two campuses.

Developed by the UB University Facilities department, the campaign is designed to get faculty, students and staff to use PCs more efficiently in order to conserve energy.

While many colleges and universities have undertaken energy awareness campaigns, UB is one of the first to zero in on computers.

"Computers are one of the fastest growing electrical loads on campus," said Walter Simpson, the university's energy officer.

He noted, however, that "people have developed extremely bad habits with respect to how they use their PCs."

Simpson said that annual energy costs for operating PCs -- whether for a major university, large business or individual household -- can be easily reduced, possibly even halved, without sacrificing productivity.

UB's green-computing campaign grew out of the work of the university's environmental task force. It includes a brochure -- "The UB Guide to Green Computing: How Your Choices Can Make a Difference" -- being distributed to all university departments, and posters. Both are printed on recycled paper.

Simpson noted that many people assume that turning personal computers on and off is bad for them. Consequently, they leave their computers on continuously. Others turn them on first thing in the morning and, even though the computers are only in use for a couple of hours, don't turn them off until the end of the workday.

The UB green-computing guide cites research revealing that most desktop PCs are not in use the majority of the time they are running.

According to the guide, it costs about $200 a year to operate a 300-watt PC system day and night, with a $50 annual price tag associated with operating it for 40 hours per week.

While an annual expenditure of $50 may not be considered a lot of money, the cost becomes significant when you are talking about the annual operation of thousands of personal computers.

"We should treat PCs more the way we do light bulbs, and turn them off when they are not in use," said Simpson. "A moderate amount of turning computers, monitors and printers on and off is not going to harm them."

Simpson noted that some computer manufacturers have in-house policies that state that when employees are not using their computers for a period of time, they should turn them off. In fact, he added, manufacturers design PCs to withstand thousands of such on-off cycles.

The UB campaign coincides with a recently announced effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to designate energy-efficient computers, monitors and printers with an Energy-Star certification and logo. As part of the green-computing effort, UB's University Facilities is working with the university's purchasing department to strongly recommend that, whenever possible, new PCs purchased for campus use bear this Energy-Star certification.

• Turn on computer equipment only when you need it. Break the habit of turning on all computer equipment first thing in the morning.

• Don't turn on printers unless you are ready to print. Laser printers eat up considerable energy even when idle.

• Turn off your computer -- or at least your monitor -- when you go to lunch or a meeting. Rebooting when you return usually takes only a minute.

• Don't use a "power strip" master switch that turns on all equipment at once if you don't need all of your equipment all of the time you are working on your computer.

• Look for ways to reduce the amount of time your computer is on without adversely affecting productivity.

• If practical, try to do all of your computer activities during one or two parts of the day, leaving the computer off at other times.

• If you must leave the central-processing unit on while you are not actively working on it, turn off the monitor to reduce energy consumption.

• Be wary of screen savers with moving images: They generally don't save energy.

• Gently remind coworkers of the need to conserve energy.

The brochure addresses paper use, too, noting that "rather than creating a paperless office, computer use has vastly increased paper consumption and paper waste."

This news release also was distributed by Quadnet, a new online science, medicine and technology news service. Quadnet is available free to members of the press who subscribe to the service.


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It suggests reviewing and modifying documents on the monitor screen, as opposed to using printed copies; using E-mail as often as possible and avoiding needless printing of E-mail messages, and using smaller font sizes still compatible with readability when printing large documents.

The brochure also includes information about the new Energy Star computers and other tips on purchasing, and how to limit exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by PC monitors. It features an illustration contributed to the campaign by Tom Toles, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for The Buffalo News.

Copies of the guide are available at a cost of $2 through Conserve UB, University Facilities, 120 John Beane Center, University at Buffalo, Amherst, N.Y., 14260, or by contacting Simpson at 716-645-3636.

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4605