Green is the New Black
Education Solutions Consultant
Green is the new black
Isn’t it great that sustainability has now become
a mainstream issue within society? Could you
even imagine environmental policy being at the
forefront of an election campaign in 2000? For
schools, the often-overlooked bi-product of
being ‘green’ relates to the amount of money
that can be saved through basic awareness of
the resources they’re using—and how careful
use can help them stay in the black.
In Australian schools, Information Communications
Technologies (ICT) usage is reaching a point where
average sized schools are managing as much
hardware as reasonably sized businesses in the
corporate world. This means that schools need to
exercise as much diligence as possible to ensure
they’re running a tight (and energy efficient) ship.
To help schools stay in the black, I’ve included
five simple tips that schools can follow to save cost,
minimise wastage and reduce energy usage.
1 – Turn your computers into sleepy heads!
Make sure your school has a system where all
PCs / laptops switch to power saving mode during
periods of inactivity. Windows 7 makes it easier to
manage on a school-wide basis. Annual energy
savings of $20 per PC add up to $10,000 per year
when you have 500 PCs!
Comment: This is easy to implement and the
savings are well worth it. They’ll appreciate the rest
2 – Green really is the new black!
In 2007, a blogger proclaimed that Google
could save 750,000 kilowatt-hours a year if the
homepage was changed from white to black. This
is because standard LCD and CRT screens use
less power when displaying black backgrounds.
Following on from point 1, a solid green policy
within your school would ensure that colourful
screensavers are shelved in favour of black,
Comment: Although this is a small saving, every
3 – Digitise where possible!
The traditional way of distributing class materials
and internal communications has always been by
using a photocopier. It has often been used to print
out daily notices, memos, messages and classroom
handouts. With the accessibility of technology,
schools can realise huge savings by changing
practices and communicating digitally where
possible. For example, a small school used the web
to deliver internal communications and it saved them
8,000 pieces of paper throughout one year! This
amounted to a reduction of 95kg in carbon dioxide
(C02) emissions, 2560L in water consumption,
and one less tree felling—plus reduced printing
Comment: In 2010, this is type of saving should
be readily valued and easily implemented.
4 – If you must…
If the only feasible option is to print, make sure
your school has a photocopier that allows
doublesided printing. Most major providers offer this
feature. However, using recycled paper through your
photocopier is not advocated because this could
affect your school’s warranty service agreement.
Comment: Being ‘green’ still means thoughtful
policy and logical practice. Don’t go overboard!
5 – Use laptops instead of PCs
It’s clear that a major factor to consider in the
laptop or PC war is the former’s superior mobility.
However, a point rarely raised in this fight is the fact
that laptops use significantly less energy than most
desktops. Studies have found that, on average,
laptops use 50% less kWh / year than PCs. If a
school chooses 500 laptops, the annual savings can
Comment: Smaller is better!
In terms of simple-to-adopt strategies, these
five measures are some of the best examples of
procedures to follow
However, there are more complex strategies
that schools are undertaking by utilising current
best practice in ICT. This includes strategies such
as ‘virtualising’ their servers, outsourcing their data
storage and using virtual desktops.
In summary, it’s clear that schools can save
wastage and costs by following simple steps. The
key principle to energy conservation is making
incremental improvements over sustained periods
of time. It’s obviously a team game and everyone
needs to be aware and involved. TEACH