Plugging into the Environment

May 16, 2014

The classroom is at the heart of any educational program. For it to function at its highest level, it requires the wisdom of an educator, a toolbox for teaching, and students who desire to learn. Today’s multifaceted learning environment provides students with many ways to learn as it constantly evolves to meet the changing demands of the educational system. Providing these enhancements—many of which are technology based—can come with a hefty environmental price tag.

Plug loads account for an increasing percentage of total energy consumed by educational institutions. Defined, a plug load is a measure of the energy used by devices and appliances powered by the electrical grid of a building.

It would be easy to realize significant savings by simply turning off plug loads, but some latitude in thinking is required here. The trick is to identify loads that are not critical to the education process or that may be easily switched off during periods of inactivity. The potential savings may be as great as 15 – 25% when controlling the use of hundreds of printers, copiers, laptops, chargers, space heaters, and other equipment.

Many computer-related plug loads can be limited through the use of sustainable computing and “green” IT innovations. Even if a consistent power management policy is implemented, students and faculty must still remember to turn off the systems that aren’t in use. Physically turning off computers, lights, and other electronic devices forms a positive habit and assures energy savings.

Streamlining power management operations not only results in significant energy savings, but also improves the life and quality of IT systems and their educational benefits. The right energy management software can cut computer-related energy use by 20% to 50%, with little to no impact on users. It also gives IT departments the ability to initiate sequenced service times automatically, resulting in lower costs without the need to continually reinforce habits.

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