Ryan Petersen is Managing Editor of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education.

A Holistic Approach to Green IT

For some, going green is nothing more than a fad, like flannel shirts or pet rocks. Yet a number of colleges and universities have made green IT a top priority and have found budgetary benefits when making the move.

For some, going green is nothing more than a fad, like flannel shirts or pet rocks. Yet a number of colleges and universities have made green IT a top priority and have found budgetary benefits when making the move.

At Lake Land College in Mattoon, Ill., green IT is now a way of life. Lake Land's goal is to be carbon neutral by 2012, and the plan to accomplish that feat includes replacing all PCs on campus with energy-efficient thin clients and installing server software that controls heating and cooling in classrooms. The college also invested in wind turbines and solar panels to power its buildings.

“The school started going down the path of green four or five years ago,” says Lee Spaniol, Lake Land's director of information systems and services.

“We started with green cleaning chemicals. We got involved early on with the building systems – HVACs – and working with building control systems, such as motion sensors that turned off unused lights. On top of that, we expanded it and asked ourselves, ‘What could we do with our technology?' And at night, Active Directory turns off any computer that's left on. It's part of a holistic approach to green.”

These green initiatives deliver a strong return on investment and help universities recruit environmentally conscientious students. “Our students are saying they want to go to a campus that is environmentally friendly, and it's one of the factors they consider when choosing a college,” Spaniol says. “Our students and staff think we should lead this charge, and we have taken that up. It's about becoming sustainable and powering the college without depleting the resources we have on the planet.”

At Tulane University in New Orleans, green IT hits closer to home – or rather, the dorm room. Every year, Tulane creates an Energy Star Showcase Dorm Room full of energy-efficient technology, appliances and lights to educate students about the importance of conservation. Students are asked to submit an essay about energy efficiency, and the author of the best essay is awarded the appliances and electronics, including a tablet computer and printer.

For Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., recycling old technology is an important part of its IT program. The college donates old computers to nonprofit organizations and lets staff members purchase their old machines for home use, says Kathleen LaBarbera, Marist's manager of IT client services. For more about these green IT initiatives, read “5 Avenues to Green.

Know Your Customers

Today, students look for more in a university than whether their major is available, whether the campus is scenic or what kind of male-to-female student ratio resides on campus. They want full access to the Internet at all times. This means campuses are expected to not only provide that access, but also support a mobile environment 24x7.

EdTech: Focus on Higher Education covers the full gamut of how colleges are delivering these services, including Xavier University's work with server redundancy to ensure high availability of its website. “Everything we do is directly tied to the web, from recruiting to registration for courses to our portal” for students who have been accepted, says David Dodd, the university's CIO. For more about Xavier's efforts, read “College on Demand.

And for some examples of how colleges are delivering robust, mobile environments to students through one-to-one notebook programs, faster wireless Internet access and Wi-Fi phones, read “Building the Mobile U.

 

Ryan Petersen,
Managing Editor

<p>Matthew Gilson</p>
Aug 18 2009

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