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Schools Help Out the Environment, Green Their IT Departments

written by: Leah•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 11/11/2008

Schools are one of the top sources of pollution and landfill contributions on Earth. Universities tend to be the largest contributors to waste and garbage, namely electronic waste. So, in order to avoid this, some universities are taking some very significant steps to green their IT departments.

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    In the 21 century, a lot is being done with technology. Computers are taking over in most places. Some high schools and elementary schools are even going paperless and using only computers for the students’ work, teachers’ grading, and many other different tasks.

    On the same note, schools are one of the top sources of pollution and landfill contributions on Earth. So, they must always be thinking of ways to become more environmentally friendly. A lot of schools are putting together recycling programs and encouraging kids and teachers to recycle those pop bottles and notebooks. Some things in schools, such as CRTs, contain hazardous waste and cannot simply be thrown away; they must be recycled.

    Schools and educational facilities across America are coming up with new and improved ways to help out the environment. Universities tend to be the largest contributors to waste and garbage, namely electronic waste. So, in order to avoid this, some universities are taking some very significant steps to green their IT departments.

    The IT department provides the backbone and the ‘behind the scenes’ work for the Physics department of most Universities. This department supplies things such as e-mail, authentication, file servers, and numerous other things as a means to support not only the Physics department, but also direct support for the staff and 1 and 2 year graduate students.

    According to Maggie McFee, who works for the department of Physics of Harvard University, the Physics department is doing a lot to help out the environment and green the IT department. This means, taking steps to make these branches a little more environment-friendly.

    “One of our biggest successes has been the removal of around 60 desktop computers from the grad students' desks and replacing them with thin clients." Says Maggie, after being asked to briefly explain what steps her department has taken to help save the Earth and cut down on waste. “The full-sized desktops consumed large amounts of energy doing mostly menial tasks and also, generated a great deal of heat. The thin clients, along with new energy efficient LCD monitors, use only a fraction of the energy that the old machines utilized." In addition, all of the staff’s PC monitors have been replaced with brand new LCD monitors that are much more energy efficient and will last longer than the old models.

    Greening the IT departments is not as easy as it sounds. A few problems presented themselves. The biggest problem was that, some of the replaced and now useless models, contained highly hazardous materials, and, therefore, had to be disposed of very carefully.

    In order to overcome this problem, the school has put together a model-recycling program. The wonderful people involved and in charge of this program work around the clock to make sure everything is disposed of properly. In addition, the school as a whole has come up with new ideas and ways to lower their energy consumption.

    This program re-uses everything that can be recycled. Warehouses full of furniture and other old materials serve as storage houses for these items.

    This program has also helped to greatly reduce materials headed for the landfills. Additionally, the university has proactively sought to develop policies and practices for sustainability and for lowering their overall energy consumption

    These efforts also serve as great inspirations to other schools and organizations by passing on suggestions and ideas. As a result, the Princeton Review has rated them the top green campus in America.