For most nonprofit organizations the idea of greening their IT system is a daunting notion, especially in these tough economic times. Most think of it as an all or nothing affair, needing to revamp an entire IT infrastructure. Not so! You can start off by taking a few small steps and then gradually continue to do more. In part 1 we’ll look at a handful of things you can do to Green Your IT now, and then in part 2 we will consider additional changes you can make down the road.
(1) Turn off your monitors. Teach your staff that the power button on the front of their monitor can be pressed at anytime. If they’re not using the computer, simply turn off the monitor, and save some energy/money.
(2) Move toward a paperless office. – Your nonprofit can save lots of money each year by going paperless. It is estimated that the average document is copied nine to 11 times at a cost of about US$23. With the new laptop you have go ahead, take it to your meetings and take down notes directly to a Word document.
(3) Recycle! When you get rid of old equipment, make sure that you send it to a reputable recycler. Find one that details their chain of custody, so you can make sure your equipment is being disposed of ethically, and is not on a slow boat to China.
(4) Begin folding in green technologies. Need to purchase a handful of new computers? A good way to get started greening your IT is on your next set of purchases. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Choose ENERGY START OR EPEAT Computers
ENERGY STAR is a joint program between the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Energy (DOE) developed to provide buyers with an objective measurement for products with improved energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR products use 10-50 percent less energy compared to standard models. Example of impact? Through the ENERGY STAR initiative, in 2006, Americans saved enough energy to avoid the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from 25 million cars while at the same time saving $14 billion on utility bills.
In addition, organizations should consider EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) Bronze, Silver, or Gold-rated computers or monitors. These models have been rated against 51 different environmental criteria (based on company self-assessments), giving them higher marks for recycled content, limited toxicity, and take-back programs.
- Replace Desktops with Laptops Laptops use 50 percent less energy than desktops—and they support a virtual workforce!
- Begin Using Thin Clients Thin client (computing) is a server-centric computing model in which the application software, data, and CPU power resides on a network server rather than on the client computer. Thin clients are by no means the new, new thing but are being reconsidered for their impact on energy usage and resulting green benefits.
(5) Get to know your power bill. As your nonprofit organization takes step to green your IT, you’ll want to measure the impact through your power bill. You can track your performance (and savings!) on a monthly or quarterly basis. Tracking the impact of your efforts will help you maintain your momentum toward reducing power use.
Stay-tuned for part two!
This article was written by Ann Yoders a consultant serving social mission organizations for over 12 years specializing in strategic IT consulting for social mission technology, and supporting corporate social responsibility groups and initiatives.