By Luke Simmons
Isn’t it great that the sustainability has now become a mainstream issue within society? Could you even imagine environmental policy being at the forefront of an election campaign in 2000? For schools, the oft overlooked bi-product of being “green” relates to the amount of money that can be saved through basic awareness of the resources they’re using – and helping them stay in the black.
In Australian schools, ICT (acronym for information communications technologies) usage is reaching a point where average sized schools are managing as much hardware as reasonably sized businesses in the corporate world. This means that schools need to exercise as much diligence as possible to ensure they’re running a tight (and energy efficient) ship.
To help schools stay in the black, I’ve included five simple tips that schools can follow to save cost, minimise wastage and reduce energy usage.
#1 – Turn your computers into sleepy heads!
Make sure your school has a system where all PCs/laptops switch to power saving mode during periods of in-activity. Windows 7 makes it easier to manage on a school-wide basis. Annual energy savings of $20 per PC add up to $10,000 per year when you have 500 PCs!
Comment: Easy to implement and the savings are well worth it. They’ll appreciate the rest too.
#2 – Green really is the new black!
In 2007, a blogger proclaimed that Google could save 750,000 kilowatt-hours a year if the homepage was changed from white to black. This is because standard LCD and CRT screens use less power when displaying black backgrounds. Following on from point #1, a solid green policy within your school would ensure that colourful screensavers are shelved in favour of black, hibernated screens.
Comment: Although this is a small saving, every bit counts.
#3 – Digitise where possible!
The traditional way of distributing class materials and internal communications has always been via the trusty photocopier. Its role has always been to print out daily notices, memos, messages and classroom handouts. With the accessibility of technology, schools can realize huge savings by taking the leap and communicating digitally where possible. For example, we helped a small school use the web to deliver internal communications and it saved them 8,000 pieces of paper throughout the year! This amounts to 95kg in C02 carbon emissions, 2560L in water, and 1 tree – plus related printing expenses.
Comment: In 2010, this is a no brainer.
#4 – If you must…
If the only feasible option is to print, make sure your school has a photocopier which allows double-sided printing. Most major providers offer this feature. However, we wouldn’t suggest using recycled paper through your photocopier because this could affect your school’s warranty service agreement.
Comment: Just don’t go too overboard!
#5 – Use laptops instead of PCs
It’s clear that a major factor to consider in the laptop or PC war is the former’s superior mobility. However, a point rarely raised in this fight is the fact that laptops use significantly less energy than their bigger cousin. Studies have found that they use 50-70 less watts on average too. If a school has 500 laptops, the annual savings can be significant.
Comment: Smaller is better!
In terms of simple-to-adopt strategies, these five are some of the best examples to follow.
However, there are more complex strategies that schools are undertaking by utilising 2010’s best practices in ICT. This includes strategies such as “virtualising” their servers, centralising their data storage and using virtual desktops.
In summary, it’s clear that schools can save wastage and costs by following simple steps. The key principle to energy conservation is making incremental improvements over sustained periods of time. It’s obviously a team game and everyone needs to be aware and involved.
About Luke Simmons and Editure:
Luke has helped schools apply technology to learning in far lands ranging from UK to Brazil – and now Australia. On the 2nd March 2011, he’ll be co-facilitating the “Green (and efficient) IT” workshop at Editure’s headquarters in Melbourne. For details/bookings/questions contact him at email@example.com