You may have seen our GreenIT shirts we’ve been wearing on campus and wondered if 80’s fluorescent clothing is making a comeback. It is! The launch of the GreenIT initiative promotes green IT products, services, and concepts across campus and will help Information Technology Services and UNK improve our sustainability posture. GreenIT is a collective name for the measures designed to reduce our environmental impact with the aid of IT. It involves both using information technology to reduce our environmental impact, and reducing the energy consumption and environmental impact of the IT sector as a whole.
The UNK Sustainability Committee was formed to ensure that sustainability is a priority for the University of Nebraska at Kearney and that sustainable practices are developed and implemented. It maintains a website and a Facebook page with updates on activities.
UNK has commissioned the Verdis Group of Omaha to create a Sustainability Master Plan which will be finished in the fall of 2015. As part of the plan, Verdis conducted a survey of UNK faculty, staff and students. It found that 72% of students think sustainability should be important or very important to UNK. 70% of students and employees feel it is key to establish a program that engages and educates our community about energy conservation.
The reasons for pursuing GreenIT are many and impactful. Even one person following the recommendations below can save UNK money and the more people to adopt these practices, the bigger the savings and impact on sustainability. The Chancellor’s 2015 Fall Strategic Plan states that “UNK is committed to efficient and effective administration of resources (human, financial, and physical/infrastructure) to ensure long-term institutional stability and sustainability.” Sustainability and GreenIT efforts promote the responsible stewardship of our limited resources, enhance our social responsibility, save money, and can enhance recruitment by showcasing wise and respectful spending of tuition and tax dollars.
Achieving sustainability is a long term commitment but it’s important to know what steps can make a difference today. Please consider the best practices below and then pass it on – doing nothing gets nothing done! We invite you to lead by example!
GreenIT Best practices:
- Go mobile and reduce the number of electronic devices you use. Today’s laptops are high powered workhorses which, when used with a docking station and desktop monitor, eliminate the need for dual devices such as an office desktop and laptop for mobility. It’s also easier to manage one device than to have your work in multiple places. Reducing your electronic footprint is the first step in efficiently utilizing UNK resources and becoming more sustainable. ITS has reduced or re-purposed significantly in recent months: 12 desktops, 9 laptops, 2 tablets and 3 printers. That is for a staff of 22! The process highlights the tendency people have to hang on to old equipment for convenience that could be put to better use or at least removed from the burden of support.
- Reduce printers and printing. Departments should consider multi-functional devices (MFDs) – machines that have multiple capabilities that may include printing, copying, scanning, and/or faxing. There are several benefits of MFDs. One MFD takes up less space than multiple printers. MFDs have reduced energy usage over running several independent printers. MFDs are less expensive to run. A centrally located MFD may discourage printing compared to desktop printers because people need to walk a few steps to the device to retrieve a printout. UNK has 470 networked printers on campus (including MFDs) for 1016 employees. That is 1 device for every 2.2 people! If departments could convert to a single MFD that could be reduced to approximately 100 devices in total since there are approximately 100 departments on campus. Some departments could share an MFD if they are close in proximity. Reducing paper consumption can improve efficiency and reduce costs. The best practice is where a central MFD is set to duplex by default and has reduced use of desktop printers. Additionally, 100% of purchased paper is FSC certified, and/or had at least 30% recycled, bagasse, or wheat straw content.
- Conserve energy by powering down equipment when not in use. All computers, monitors, and printers should be set to sleep or hibernate after inactivity (recommended 5 minutes for monitors and 15 minutes for computers). Energy conserved by reducing plugload directly translates into fiscal savings for UNK.