Greening IT Initiative

Greening ITThe Charge

Greening IT is an initiative to reduce the environmental impact of information technology at OSU. The Greening IT group provides value to the OSU community through outreach education and reducing university expenditures in electricity, paper, HVAC, toner, and equipment purchases.

Lucas Friedrichsen, IT Manager with Information Services, is leading a broad task force to explore the interests, issues, practical concerns, and technical concerns associated with "greening" information technology. The group is comprised of members that have a passion for sustainability and reducing OSU's impact on the environment.

The Process

The task force uses the 80/20 concept to select topics that have the largest impact across the university. Using that mantra, committee members research problems or processes and develop best practices to share with the OSU community, the IT community, and beyond. For example, methods to reduce paper and toner usage by all members of the community is one of the first areas under investigation.

The current, ongoing topics are:

Targeted communications will be emailed to OSU associates and posted to the website on a regular basis. Communications will be derived from industry and academic research and from projects that committee members lead.

Additionally, a website to educate the OSU community on steps that individuals can take to reduce their computing impact on the environment is now online.

Task Force Members

  • Lucas Friedrichsen, Information Services (chair)
    • Education awareness campaign
  • Brandon Trelstad, Facilities Services
    • Education awareness campaign
  • Keith Price, College of Engineering
    • Computer lab management and power conservation
  • Gabe Williams, Student Affairs
    • Data center efficiency
  • Curt Onstott, Crop and Soil Science
    • Data center efficiency
  • Brian Staffenson, University Housing and Dining Services
    • Paper usage reduction

Computer Lab Management & Power Savings

Graf 202 Computer Lab

Keith Price and the College of Engineering have developed a system to manage power consumption in the computer labs. COE will assess the reliability of the sleep/wake process and remote management capabilities and determine how much time the machines have been asleep when they would otherwise have been awake.

The system being assessed involves Linux and PC-based computers across several COE labs. A script runs every 5 minutes to see if a user is logged in to a machine. Once a user is no longer logged in, the machine will put itself to sleep (S3 mode). Additionally, a web-based program allows lab users to view the current usage of a particular lab and lab managers to control the power settings for the computers.

View current lab usage here.

Final goal

Following an assessment of the COE system, the Greening IT team hopes to recommend that the majority of the open labs on campus use a single lab management system with consistent power settings.

The Charge

  • Reduce electricity usage of computers.
  • Allow lab users to visualize computer lab usage.
  • Maintain a database that contains information on sleep, login, startup, and wake times of the networked computers to enable reports on actual savings.
  • Collaborate with Network Services to discuss how Wake-on-LAN tools can be integrated with Maintain and rolled out campus-wide.
  • Document and demonstrate a lab management system that could be used across campus. 
  • Determine the feasibility of a centralized management system and any hindrances to implementation.

Projected Impact

The College of Engineering projects that sleeping its 400 lab computers during times of inactivity will save $8,000 annually.

Project Updates

July 2011 - Conferred with Russ Born at Student Computing Facilities about lab management methods. Talked to COSINe and other groups on campus that manage computer labs.

October 2011 - Discussions with Network Engineering about network switch changes to enable consistent management of computers that are put to sleep. Began to assemble documentation about Wake-on-LAN and the associated caveats. Progress was made on lab management documentation and the investigation of paper waste reduction within College of Engineering labs.

Upcoming

January 2012 - Document and demonstrate a lab management system that could be used across campus. Determine the feasibility of a centralized management system and any hindrances to implementation.

Data Center Efficiency

Data Center

Large clusters of computer servers and networking equipment, known as data centers, provide the physical infrastructure for key computer services. Lucas Friedrichsen, IT Manager for Information Services, is leading a task force to assess OSU data center efficiency and develop recommendations from energy audits and industry research.

Final Goal

Reduce HVAC and electricity usage in data centers. 

The Charge

  • Assess data center and server closet efficiency on campus.
  • Work with data center and server managers to understand the complexities in each facility.
  • Compile statistics about data center resource usage.
  • Identify servers or computers located outside of current data centers that could move into more efficient data centers.
  • Provide recommendations to data center managers based on information from energy audits and industry research.

Updates

September 2011 – Met with Brandon Wells, Kerr data center manager, to determine PUE numbers for the Kerr data centers.

Upcoming

October 2011 - March 2012 – Work with Network Services to identify all data centers on campus, then work with data center operators and the OSU Sustainability Office to audit and collect information about data center electricity and HVAC usage.

December 2011 – Provide a list of 5-10 industy "best practices" commonly used in data centers to increase operational efficiency.

Paperless

Going Paperless

Brian Staffenson, a staff member of University Housing and Dining Services, is investigating paper usage within his department, determining which processes are most reliant on paper documentation, and understanding how paperless or near-paperless processes can impact workflow.

Final Goal

Develop methods and recommendations to reduce paper usage across campus and beyond.

The Charge

  • Determine which processes use paper on a regular basis.
  • Analyze which processes can effectively go paperless or use less paper.
  • Reduce paper usage within department by 10%.
  • Document reproducable results for other departments.

Updates

August 2011

  • Requested that UHDS managers compile a list of the types of printing they do, including frequency and reasoning.

September 2011

  • Created a small task force to investigate inventory, which is UHDS's largest source of wasted paper.

October 2011

  • Met with department stakeholders to go ahead with plan to automate inventory procedure with a goal of complete automation by December 2011.
  • Created a system to capture printing data and worked on a system to allow users to view their paper usage.
  • Developing recommendations for paper savings methods across departments.

November 2011

  • Completed printing data project for users and incorporated it into the department's login script so each user can now see how much they've printed in the last week, month, and year.
  • Simultaneously ran both the automated and manual inventory procedures to test validity of data and functionality of system. Plans for complete automation are confirmed for a December 2011 start date.
  • Working on system to allow managers to see how much their units are printing.

Preliminary Recommendations for Individuals

  • Send materials to meeting attendees before meeting. This will allow those with laptops/tablets the ability to bring them to the meeting and reduce the number of copies needed for the meeting.
  • Use Digital Post-it notes, such as a Windows Sidebar gadget (Sticky Notes) or Apps such as Noteshelf or 2Do for Apple devices.
  • Request that others send communications electronically. This includes vendors and other 3rd parties.
  • Set personal goals, such as to never print out an email.
  • If your position requires you to print something, meet with your manager or the recipient of the document and determine if paper-dependent workflows can be converted to electronic-based workflows.

Preliminary Recommendations for IT Implementation

  • Encourage users to set their default printer settings to two sided printing.
  • Use a networked fax machine so documents do not have to be printed before being faxed. You only need one or two set up to do so in your department, so depending on the size of the department, this can also cut costs in other ways.