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Green Technology at NU

Green, or environmentally friendly, information technology can be described as effective power management to reduce unnecessary energy consumption, the eco-friendly disposal of e-waste of technology equipment, and the virtualization of servers to reduce power consumption.

While being green is becoming more second nature to many of us and computing is already a large part of our daily lives, why not take the time to practice a few simple green technology habits? You'll not only save money and energy for the University, you might even feel a little better about yourself. Plus, learn the truth behind popular power management myths and educate yourself on power management statistics.

Computers: Manage Your Power

When you step away from your computer, even for five minutes, you can practice one of the easiest energy-saving practices: turn off your monitor. Just turning off your monitor for one extra hour or two a day will add up to major savings at the office and at home.

Think your screen saver is saving energy? It's not. Most screen savers don't save energy unless they actually turn off the screen or, in the case of laptops, turn off the backlight. Eliminate screen savers altogether by activating your power management settings to have your computer go to "sleep" after 30 minutes of you being away. Visit Properties > Screen Savers > Power for options.

Peripherals: Think Smart

If you're like most people, you probably keep your phone charger and other seemingly minor electronics plugged in all the time. Did you know that phantom power draws power from electronic gadgets even when they're switched off or not in use, just by being plugged in?

When not in use, unplug top phantoms—printers, monitors, cell phone chargers, and cable boxes—and you can save up to ten percent of power management consumption. Plus, your gadgets will probably last longer.

Printing: Only When Necessary

Sometimes it seems there's no way to get around printing, but take note of these suggestions and you might think twice the next time you're about to click "Print".


Need to schedule a meeting or presentation and don't want to go through the hassle of scheduling a room, printing handouts, and making copies? Schedule a Web or vidoeconference via NU's videoconferencing or webconferencing services. You'll not only make life easier for yourself, you're also being green and helping the University reduce it's carbon footprint. Videoconferencing is an easy way to reduce paper and energy waste, and your meeting attendees will likely thank you for valuing their time.

Do Your Part

If you're planning to purchase any kind of technology gadget (i.e. computer, monitor, television, etc.) in the future, look for the product to have small, blue ENERGY STAR sticker somewhere on it. You'll be one step closer to helping out the environment, and you'll pad your wallet. If your computer is supported by ENERGY STAR, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, it will use 70 percent less electricity than units without power management features while in sleep mode.

Did you know that e-waste makes up two percent of solid waste in the U.S. and is the fastest-growing segment of our country's garbage? Northwestern University is embracing the trend to live a more green life by building environmentally-friendly classrooms, creating green dining experiences, and helping out with electronic recycling.

Computer equipment contains metals and other materials that are hazardous to human health and the environment if not properly managed. After you've wiped your hard drive clean of all sensitive data, take advantage of the University resources that are available to assist with computer and peripheral recycling and reusing.

Northwestern University offers a computer eCycling program for University-owned computers. The computer recycling program, provided by University Services, includes free pick-up for all University-owned equipment.

Additionally, the Surplus Property Exchange provides a common forum for the exchange of Northwestern University surplus property and supplies at a fair market value. Non-working computers and their parts are de-manufactured and resold by commodity such as cable, wire, metal, and plastic. Working peripherals, including monitors and laser printers, are refurbished and resold.

Last Updated: 31 January 2019

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