Computers & mobile phones
Image – Kerry Barton
All staff have a desktop PC or laptop; these are updated on a regular basis. We have extensive policies to support ‘greener’ computing at Landcare Research. These policies range from ‘switch off’ campaigns, procurement, packaging, and end–of–life (re–use and recycle). Hewlett–Packard, which undertakes extensive environmental and social performance reporting, is our preferred supplier for PCs. Wherever possible we purchase toners that are recycled.
We use TFT/LCD monitors, which consume ¼ to ⅓ less power and are less of a liability at end–of–life. (CRT tubes contain lead and mercury and take up considerably more space in landfills.) As well, when set at their native resolution TFT/LCD monitors are brighter and sharper, take up less space on users’ desks, and present fewer health risks by not flickering and having lower electrical, magnetic and x–ray emissions.
Our Computer Systems and Support Team has a strong focus on ‘keeping IT green’ through both the purchasing and operating of computing equipment. Guidelines and policies are available to all staff on our intranet.
All staff are encouraged to:
- Minimise power usage by turning screensavers off and allowing monitors to sleep when not in use. This can easily be set as a standard default.
- Shut down PCs at the end of the day. If everyone does this, especially on Fridays, it adds up to substantial power–savings over a year.
Printing and printers
We use recycled toner cartridges except where it may jeopardise warranty terms. Our empty cartridges are collected for recycling.
We strongly advise all staff to:
- Moderate printing by leaving the default to print duplex (double–sided). If the printer is capable, use the 2–up/2–pages–per–sheet option when printing multi–page documents.
- Use Word’s tracking features and MS Lync to edit and share documents electronically.
- Use InfoFile on-line shared workspaces
Video conferencing & MS Lync
Video conference meetings and desk top MS Lync reduce travel costs, carbon footprint, and time wasted travelling. They also open new opportunities, e.g. regular meetings across multiple cities can be held. Both communication systems use our internet making them extremely cost-effective.
As we are part of the ultrafast Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network (KAREN), we have been able to extend our videoconferencing capability to connect with up to 10 or 12 other university and CRI sites simultaneously. This is of significant benefit for researchers working on collaborative projects that span national and international boundaries.
In recent years, rather than buying more servers when new systems have required them, we have adopted a virtualised approach. This minimises the requirement for a separate server for each system, increases the processor utilisation, and reduces power consumption.
We have begun monitoring power consumption in our server rooms; we hope it may be feasible to reduce the ambient temperature by 0.5–1.0 degree. We watch the market for new developments in server room power and cooling technologies looking for options that are suitable in our environment.
We evaluate our suppliers in terms of their environmental sustainability – does the company have a sustainability policy, do they use minimal and recyclable packaging, will they take back products at end–of–life?
As part of our purchasing criteria for new IT equipment, we consider power consumption – not just while in use, but also when idle.
Reuse, recycle, recover
Before any Landcare Research IT equipment is thrown out we consider if it may be reused by others. If not then we check out recycling options. Most main centres have places that are happy to take the equipment, refurbish it if possible or break components down and recycle parts.
We encourage staff to:
- Contact us if they know of a good cause that is deserving of our old equipment. Many charities, preschools, and schools struggle to get IT equipment and often equipment that may be obsolete in a company like ours still has a useful life elsewhere.
- Alternatively, we offer computers to staff for home use with a small charge payable to our social club.