(originally posted as http://greentechteam.org/site/green-impact-at-the-it-service-desk)

My department have done so much to promote sustainability and green issues, but in this article I am going to concentrate on the work done by my team – the IT Service Desk.

In 2012 IT Services were awarded a Green Impact Gold Award for the first time. As part of that initiative we looked at the way we work and made some changes. We cut down on paper, explored virtualisation technologies, and set up a green board in the office to make everyone aware of environmental issues and how each person could contribute.

In 2013 we went a little further, and started a more proactive approach to bringing down the carbon footprint of the team, and raising awareness of the role each of us has to play in building a sustainable future.

Initiatives we undertook in 2013 include:

Putting together a whole workstation by re-using and scrounging furniture and IT equipment. We have used a lot of the old kit from Aston Web C-block that was going to be binned, and have actually saved a fair bit of money by doing things this way. People often forget that reusing things is generally better than recycling them, and this initiative nicely demonstrates that. Also, we did it all in about two hours, and carried all the furniture ourselves rather than using a van.

Along similar lines, we have also just refurbished another office using furniture from C-block, and cascaded our old furniture to other parts of the library.

We have a new Green Board, in the corridor outside our office. We have all the usual things, plus a Green Ideas Tree. Students can write suggestions on it, and we can pass these on to the relevant people periodically. We also have a poster detailing iPhone and Android apps to do with sustainability and environmental concerns (including QR codes so people can download them).

For years we have re-used old PCs as servers, test machines, and as a way to have access to as many different OS/browser combinations as possible for testing purposes. This year we measured the power consumption of these older machines and found they were using significantly more electricity that the other computers in the office. As a result of this we now use virtual machines for anything that doesn’t involve running something on specific hardware, which has cut down massively on power consumption, as well as making the office feel a lot less cluttered.

And finally, we’re also trying to raise awareness with our staff. Just little things like asking them to justify having a second monitor, making sure PCs and printers are switched off when not being used, and trying to avoid using fans, heaters, and anything else that consumes a lot of power. We also use an online Knowledge Base as our primary way of disseminating information to students, which cuts down on the amount of paper we use.

Hopefully what we have done so far has made a difference, but we already have plans for the next twelve months to build on this good work and hopefully aim for a Gold Plus award this time next year.

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