Monday, May 18, 2015

Thoughts on Low Carbon IT

I wanted to share a few more thoughts about our Low Carbon IT at Morris. The University of Minnesota, Morris is proud to be recognized by the US EPA for the ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign!

At Morris, we have a campus culture of a renewable, sustainable education. That statement applies to our liberal arts education, and to our commitment to green energy and responsibility to the environment.

When we were asked to commit to low carbon IT, that was a no brainer for us. Just being part of Morris means we think first about how our decisions affect the environment. Everyone I work with at Morris thinks that way. When we purchase new computers, or look at new ways to apply technology, someone always asks "Is this sustainable?" or "Is this green?" It's part of our campus life to be low carbon.

So low carbon IT was something we were already doing. For example, one of the first things we did when Morris adopted Active Directory for computer labs and faculty and staff computers was to put computers into a low power mode when they weren't being used. This makes a big difference in our computer labs; when a computer isn't being used for a while, it just shuts down.

At Morris, we have two wind turbines that augment our electrical energy for the campus. We also have a biomass facility that provides much of our hot water.

Over the last year or so, I've been working on a research project with computer science students and faculty to monitor energy usage. The long term goal is to help our students better understand how they use energy. Our students are the kind that will wait half an hour to do laundry if it means running the machines from wind power.

Eventually, this project will produce an app or mobile website that shows the current energy usage for the campus, how much energy we generate from the turbines, and - most importantly - what our energy footprint will look like in the near future. We also want this to educate people about time of day pricing - how the cost of energy changes throughout the day.

The energy monitoring project is currently looking at energy and water consumption in our Green Prairie Living And Learning Community residence hall. Working on this project, our students are learning a lot and gaining a ton of new experience that they can apply to their lives and careers after graduation.
image: ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign

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