Information Resources has taken steps to conserve energy through initial implementation of best practices and technologies for the Data Center, e-Waste, and Faculty, Staff, and Lab desktop computers. ’08-’09 will be a year in which the campus will further focus on implementing sustainable energy practices and technologies on desktop computers and peripherals.

Academic Year '07-08

Some of the initiatives already undertaken in AY '07-08 include:

Replacing Energy-Inefficient Hardware

LCD monitors
The primary savings in this category has been through replacement of CRT monitors with LCD monitors. Since the average power consumption for a 17” CRT monitor is about 150 watts and the average power consumption from the same size LCD monitor is about 50 watts, there is considerable energy savings in making this replacement. By the end of the ’07-08 academic year (AY) it is estimated that 2500 CRT monitors have been replaced with LCD monitors.

Desktops and Servers
For the past four years, User Services has recommended procurement of energy efficient desktop computer models. On the PC side this has meant procurement of “ultra small form factor” systems and on the Mac side, Mac Minis. These systems use approximately 85 watts less power than a comparable mini tower system. The large majority of campus faculty/staff desktop computer purchases have followed these recommendations.
Although there has been some energy efficiency improvement on servers, the drive by computer manufacturers to increase computing horsepower each year has created about a break-even situation with regard to server energy usage.

Applying Energy-Savings Settings on Computing Hardware

Desktops and Laptops
One of the most effective ways of creating energy savings on computing hardware is to use automated settings to force the computer’s hardware to go into low power consumption modes (“sleep”, “hibernate”) when not in use. These energy savings modes typically involve shutting down power to the monitor and spinning down the hard disk during periods of inactivity. When the user moves the mouse or hits any key the computer “wakes up” and resumes normal power modes. It is standard practice for computer manufacturers to apply these settings to laptop computers in order to extend battery life. However, because these reduced power modes may possibly have a negative impact on some running applications and therefore cause problems for some users, computer manufacturers have not enabled these settings as the default for desktop computers. User Services and some other areas have done some pilot testing of these settings on desktop computers but there has been no widespread rollout.

Laser Printers and Data Projectors
Laser printers and data projectors can be similarly configured to go into low power mode when not in use. These low power settings have been configured as standard settings by Information Resources staff when setting up these devices. Estimated yearly energy savings are shown in the chart in the category “Automated Settings”.

Although servers consume relatively large amounts of power, they are not appropriate for sleep mode settings. Servers are expected to be running and available all the time.

Server Virtualization

Server virtualization involves using virtualization software to create multiple virtual servers running on one physical server.  This can be done because most physical servers are not used at anywhere near their full computing potential. Virtualization may allow ten or more virtual servers to run on one physical server and expend very little extra energy in doing so. The Enterprise Systems Group (ESYS) began virtualizing servers in July 2007 and anticipates that by the end of AY ’07-08 approximately 50 servers will have been virtualized onto five physical servers. One recent source[1] calculates a savings of 9,600 kilowatt-hours per year for each virtualized server.

[1] Source:  E-week

Academic Year '08-09

By further reducing the power consumption of your computer and peripherals, we can save an additional estimated $25-$50 per computer annually by activating centralized power management on both the monitor and central processing unit (CPU). With nearly 4,000 desktop computers on campus, this translates to an additional savings of $100,000-$200,000 annually.

Next Steps:

  1. Central Labs (Fall ’08):
    Information Resources has installed PowerSave software on 180 central lab machines. This software works with the campus lab software called DeepFreeze, that preserves machines in a untouched state. PowerSave effectively hibernates computers and monitors when not in use for a set period of time. The application reports back to a central console, which provides estimates of energy savings.
  2. Department Labs (Spring ’09):
    Information Resources has procured PowerSave for the lab machines that already use DeepFreeze for lab management. This amounts to another 800+ machines. Student Computing support staff are working with Lab Managers to incorporate the PowerSave technologies into labs for Spring ’09.
  3. Faculty and Staff Desktops (Spring/Summer ’09 on)
    Currently, User Services sets monitors to sleep after 15-20 minutes of activity. This is a start, but hibernating hard drives as well will help to maximize power savings for the Campus. The most effective means for power management is to manage centrally with tools designed specifically for this task. There are few comprehensive products that fully meet the needs of a heterogeneously technological campus. The CSU has contracted for volume licensing for a couple of vendor solutions, and User Services will be testing these applications in conjunction with other technologies for potential use on campus. Aside from implementing new technologies, this project presents a significant challenge to classify users and machines to allow for varying power consumption needs. This will be a longer term project.

What can you do now?

  • Enable the standby/sleep mode and power management settings.
  • Review document drafts and emails onscreen instead of printing them out.
  • Power off your monitor when not in use instead of using screensavers.
  • Turn off all peripherals (scanners, speakers) until they are to be used.
  • Do not leave the computer running overnight and on weekends.
  • Choose dark backgrounds for your screen display.
  • Do not use bright-colored displays which consume more power.
  • Do not turn on the printer until you are ready to print out your documents.
  • Keep computer off until it is to be used.
  • Reduce the light level in the room when working on the computer.
  • Network/share printers where possible.
  • Print on recycled-content paper.
  • Use double-sided printing functions.
  • E-mail communications as an alternative to paper memos and fax documents.

Other Online Resources

Energy Setting Myths

Myth: It is bad to turn off the computer.
Truth: Computers are now designed to handle 40,000 on/off cycles. This is considerably more cycles than the average user will initiate in the computer’s 5-7 year life span. Turning your computer off helps reduce heat stress and wear on the system.

Myth: Turning your computer off uses more energy than leaving it on.
Truth: The surge of power used by a CPU to boot up is far less than the energy used by the unit when left on for over 3 minutes.

Myth: Screen savers save energy.
Truth: Screen savers were originally designed to help protect the life span of monochrome monitors which are now technologically obsolete. Most screen savers do not save energy unless they actually turn off the screen or, in the case of laptops, turn off the backlight.

Myth: Network connections are lost when a PC goes into low-power/sleep mode.
Truth: Newer computers are designed to sleep on networks to prevent loss of data or connection. CPU’s with Wake on LAN (WOL) technology built-in to network cards can be left in sleep mode overnight to wake-up and receive data packets sent to the unit.

E-Waste Recycling

Do you have old and unused electronics stored away? CSU Chico recycles and disposes of e-waste:

  • CPUs, Monitors, and Printers
  • Floppy Disks and Compact Discs
  • Toner Cartridges and Ink Jets
  • Cell Phones, Palm Pilots (PDA’s)
  • 2-Way Radios/Beepers/Pagers
  • Audio and Video Tapes
  • Batteries and Accessories
View more information on electronic device disposal.