Following Saturday night’s Earth Hour feel-good event, now’s the time to take action—to change the way you do business to reduce your environmental impact. Here’s some IT-related tips to get you started.
1. Turn off equipment that isn’t being used:
- Turn off computers at the end of the day. If you can remember to lock the door, you can remember this too.
- If you need to leave computers running (perhaps to run your backups after hours), then use the operating system’s timer feature so the computer turns itself off when it’s finished.
- Turn off computers at the power point, rather than leaving them on standby.
- Unplug mobile phone and camera chargers unless they’re actually being used.
- Even servers and Internet routers can be turned off overnight or across the weekend—unless they must be left on for remote access.
- Re-arrange power cords so you can turn everything off with one switch—- and still leave vital equipment running.
2. Discourage printing: Read documents on screen wherever possible.
- Before you press “print”, ask yourself whether it’s really necessary.
- Use your software’s “print preview” to check the layout, rather than printing a proof.
- Set up an electronic filing system and backups, rather than printing documents “for the files”.
- Format documents for on-screen reading, rather than for printing. Use legible typefaces, wide line spacing and landscape format.
- Send documents by email, not the post.
- If you absolutely have to print it, use both sides of the paper.
A hat-tip to AMP, who print the following message at the bottom of every email: “Please consider the environment before printing this email.”
3. Buy more energy-efficient systems: And if you’re worried about cost, think about the entire life of the system, not just the purchase price.
- Laptops typically use less energy than desktop computers.
- LCD screens use less energy than old CRT screens—and they’re better on the eyes.
- If you buy bigger and better screens, people will be less likely to print things.
- Two screens provide an even bigger work surface which makes you more productive.
- Inkjet printers use less energy than lasers.
- Do you really need a big, power-hungry server just to share files in a small office? Networked hard drives are much cheaper, smaller—and use far less power.
4. Moving away from IT:
- Consider whether air conditioning really needs to freeze your office in summer and turn it into a furnace in winter. If you don’t need to “dress up for customers—and most office workers don’t, business is done on the phone—then dress appropriately for the weather.
- Avoid pointless meetings and cut down on travel. You don’t need a face-to-face meeting just to discuss a document. Email the document and book a phone call. Explore on-screen collaboration tools and video conferencing. Your kids can use “video chat”, why can’t you?
- Turn down the lights, you’re not in an operating theatre.
- Turn off the lights in empty rooms.
- Install motion detectors on infrequently-used lights.
5. And finally…
Post a graph of your business’ energy consumption where everyone can see it—and celebrate when you reach your targets.