An Inside Look at Green IT Practices

by Diane VanDyke

From the information technology department to the daily users of technology, Montgomery County Community College is finding ways to be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

To reduce energy costs and consumption, the College uses virtual servers and virtual workstation technology, according to Bill Rosenbaum, a senior network engineer in the IT department.

Virtualization involves the use of software to allow multiple operating systems to run simultaneously and more efficiently. With the use of distributed power management, a data center can monitor usage and automatically turn off servers that are not needed.

Similarly, the IT department is utilizing virtual data center storage. By using a pool of storage instead of individual direct attached storage, Rosenbaum explained, the system is more efficient, and the College is able to realize a powers savings with this system.

Additionally, the data center environment itself is configured to allow the maximum amount of airflow for the equipment, which minimizes the operation time of air compressors.

To save energy, projectors, which are in most classrooms, and plasma televisions, located throughout the campuses as information boards, are configured to turn off at predetermined times. Likewise, desktop computers are programmed to hibernate after specific periods of inactivity.

From the outset, the College purchases technology that is Energy Star rated, Rosenbaum said. If equipment is not rated, the College tries to buy the most energy efficient type, such as liquid crystal display (LCD) projectors that use less energy, have a longer life cycle and a longer bulb life.

Any outdated, useless technology is recycled, usually by selling it to a reseller, who reuses parts and properly disposes of the e-waste, according to Environmental Protection Agency standards.

To reduce the amount of paper used, the College encourages double-sided printing and purchases printers with duplex capability. The electronic submission of documents is encouraged at all levels by all users.

The College also uses technology to streamline procedures and eliminate the use of paper completely.

One such example is with the Scholarship Tracking and Review System. At one time, the College would mail about 1,200 letters to students who were eligible for the more than 70 College Foundation scholarships. Students would then complete paper applications and submit them with letters of recommendation.

The entire process created mountains of paper, according to Tracey Richards, Associate Director of Financial Aid.

Three years ago, the College changed the procedure by sending email notices to students, who then could apply directly online and electronically attach the letters with the application forms.

“Not only do we save paper, postage and time, but now we can reach more students,” Richards said. “Based upon their profile information, the students can be directed to the scholarships that apply to them. The system also scores and ranks the applications, which speeds up the process.”

The College has implemented similar procedures in most areas of its operations.

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