The University of Texas at Austin

Launch of Green IT@UT Initiative Supports Sustainability on Campus

"Green information technology is key to ensuring that The University of Texas at Austin achieves the goal of advancing environmental stewardship and sustainability here at our university,” says Brian Roberts, CIO and Vice President for Information Technology. Recently, Roberts added Green IT to the list of priorities for his office and announced the launch of a Green IT@UT initiative. The initiative promotes green IT products and services across campus and will help Information Technology Services (ITS) grow greener as an organization.

Steps Toward Sustainability -Now

The focus on "green”, particularly Green IT, is increasingly making headlines.  While achieving sustainability is a long term commitment, it’s important to know what steps can make a difference right here, right now.

With the start of the new academic year, ITS begins a year-long awareness campaign designed to help everyone on campus – from students to system administrators to staff in the President’s office – have the information they need to be “green” when it comes to computing.  Here’s a quick look at a number of green services and options offered by ITS that can help save power and paper, and reduce your carbon footprint.

Reducing and Recycling

Reducing your overall consumption and responsibly recycling electronic waste are some ways you can go green on campus.

Use Blackboard, WebSpace, and SharePoint to share and collaborate on electronic documents. The paper and costs you save by not printing can be significant. You can use these tools in the following ways:

  • Blackboard allows faculty members to share electronic syllabi, class presentations and class readings with students. In turn, students can submit their class assignments electronically. No paper or ink will be used at all!
  • WebSpace allows anyone in the university community and beyond to collaborate on electronic documents, in addition to storing files. It is also certified as safe for storing and sharing Category-I data.
  • SharePoint is another tool that allows anyone with a UT EID to share and collaborate online.  Many office teams on campus have found SharePoint a useful tool in keeping projects on track and team members informed. It is also certified as safe for storing and sharing Category-I data.

For offices and departments that print reports from the mainframe, Green Printing is a sustainable alternative. It can radically reduce paper consumption by printing reports to files instead of using reams of paper. Electronic delivery also saves on energy consumption and time.

ITS offers a Hard Drive Destruction service for recycling e-waste. Through a contract with an Austin-based company, ITS destroys media with sensitive (Category-I) data, and ensures that the byproducts are completely recycled thanks to the vendor’s “zero waste” policy. “Zero waste” means all media – even hazardous waste – is recycled according to EPA guidelines.

Reducing the Effects of Travel

Every day, members of the campus community contribute to the university’s carbon footprint by traveling within Austin and around the world. Making thoughtful decisions about how and when you travel can significantly reduce your carbon footprint or impact the amount of greenhouse gasses produced.
ITS offers several options that may help you travel less and reduce your carbon footprint.

  • Use the Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to the campus network when you are working from home. With the VPN, it’s like you’re at your desk or in the library – you can connect to a mapped drive or personal folder on the campus network.
  • Set up a teleconference or videoconference when you need to meet with colleagues at Pickle Research Campus (PRC), across the country, or around the world. Remember driving or flying to meet in person is not your only option; you can save wear-and-tear on yourself and the planet by using technology to cover the distance between you and your colleagues.

As you think about ways to reduce your carbon footprint, keep these facts in mind:

  • For every mile driven, your car produces approximately 1 pound of carbon dioxide (CO2). If you carpool, your car still produces 1 pound of CO2 per mile, but every person in the car now shares that 1 pound of CO2 per mile.
  • Air travel produces about 0.6 pounds of CO2 per person per mile flown. Videoconferencing produces far less.

Saving Power and Space

If you or your department are interested in conserving power and space, ITS provides several virtual services to consider:

Virtual machines save on power and space by consolidating physical machines. ITS uses hardware that can create up to 64 virtual machines on a single “real” physical machine. The energy and space-saving potential are good for both the environment and the bottom line.
Here are some facts that put the benefits of going virtual into perspective:

    • The average physical server uses about 750 watts at peak power. Over a year, that equates to 6,570 kilowatts of power, or about $657 per year for the power.
    • Based on those figures, 64 servers consolidated into virtual machines could save as much as $41,000 in power in one year.

    A Greener ITS

    In addition to providing services that can help the university community be more green, ITS is committed to becoming a greener organization itself. Currently, we are:

    • Reducing power consumption by moving many services to virtual machines.
    • Using 10-35% recycled printer paper whenever possible, including in all the FAC labs.
    • Saving energy by turning off monitors in the FAC computer labs.

    These are only a few examples of our steps toward sustainability. As the year progresses, we will keep you informed of what we are doing and what’s available to make Green IT@UT a reality.