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How to Save Money with Sustainable IT

Updated on January 9, 2018
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of 2, and a published sci-fi and horror author.

What Is Sustainable IT?

Sustainable IT refers to information technology that is environmentally friendly. Sustainable IT can refer to reducing power demands, using lead-free electronics, requiring less ventilation or air conditioning, use less material, generates no waste or uses recycled components. Sustainable IT does not always require expensive new equipment or redesigning a facility from the ground up with solar cells on the roof.

The term sustainable IT is sometimes used in place of the term Green IT. Lean IT projects seek to reduce waste in IT, but not all Lean IT projects count as sustainable.

Part of sustainable IT is reducing the power needed to run computers and networks - and managing the number of devices is a critical step toward reducing energy needs.
Part of sustainable IT is reducing the power needed to run computers and networks - and managing the number of devices is a critical step toward reducing energy needs. | Source

How to Save Money with Sustainable IT

Sustainable IT, Green IT and Lean IT efforts are all focused on making Information Technology more eco-friendly. This involves reducing energy usage, reducing supporting materials, eliminating hazardous chemical usage, reducing heavy metal usage and other "green" efforts.

  • Consolidating servers either through virtual servers or simply shutting them down reduces the amount of hardware to support. This also reduces electricity costs.
  • Eliminating personal printers reduces the cost to maintain them, reduces personal printing and can standardize the types of ink used. Reducing the number of devices also eliminates the drain of devices that are rarely used.
  • Install docking stations in the work spaces for road warriors. Let their laptop become their only computer and dispose of the personal computer.
  • Use hotelling stations, shared workspaces for those who are rarely in the office, instead of having many work computers used a fraction of the time.
  • Send reminders to turn off computers at the end of each shift along with instructions on how to input their daily time card. Send out reminders to employees to turn off their personal computers and equipment when wishing them well before leaving for the holidays. These messages can be automated to prevent sustainability from draining IT staffers’ time.
  • Outsource website hosting to virtual private server (VPS) hosting firms if you need a website but little other hosting space. This is both a cost savings and energy savings.
  • When buying new hardware, choose devices that are lead-solder free.
  • Buy electronic and computing devices that are marked by the Energy Star logo to ensure that they use as little power as possible.
  • Replace full PCs with tablet computers for employees who occasionally need to enter purchase orders, fill out time cards or review work instructions. Or allow these employees to share a single computer.
  • Try balancing cron jobs and work loads before buying more equipment.
  • Eliminate personal printers and switch to shared printers. Less electricity will be consumed supporting rarely used personal printers.
  • Recycle ink jet cartridges for extra cash while keeping them out of the landfill.
  • Replace centralized UPS with those on the same rack as servers to minimize power loss. Facebook does this.
  • Put archived data on systems that alternate half on and half off, so that you don't keep all of the least likely to be queried data on systems that continually get powered.
  • Delete the amount of data you're storing. The less information you have stored, the fewer systems you need to run to store it. This could take the form of deleting all but the latest iteration of each document revision, instead of multiple iterations of each revision.

  • Some companies reduce device count by allowing employees to use their personal devices for work, instead of purchasing additional devices.
  • When your network is approaching its capacity, review usage before assuming that you need to run more cables. Could you free up bandwidth by blocking streaming media sites? If additional bandwidth is needed, is a wireless network to supplement the LAN an option?
  • Add wireless routers instead of wired connections when you need additional bandwidth. Be careful of the frequency settings to minimize interference.
  • Install Linux as the operating system on your older personal computers. Linux uses less memory and CPU than Windows. Linux versions like Puppy Linux use only 85 MB, smaller than many installed applications. Switching to Linux lets you use older hardware for a much longer time. You also gain access to many free and open source software applications, lowering software licensing costs.

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