Test your IT department sustainability this summer

June 22, 20184 Minute Read

It’s summer—the time of year when the flowers are in bloom and the trees are a glorious green. With so much greenery to celebrate, this also makes the perfect time to look at how you can create a greener technology environment by launching an IT department sustainability audit in the office.

A sustainability audit can identify areas where your business is wasting electricity and other resources, such as printer consumables. By highlighting problem areas, IT teams can work out where to invest their sustainability dollars for a leaner, greener office.

Measure your IT department sustainability

Start off your sustainability audit by creating a list of your office equipment, including your connected PCs and monitors, back-end servers, and printer environment. This will give you an understanding of your overall IT department sustainability status by identifying all the equipment that could be using undue energy.

When measuring server energy usage, the power distribution unit is a good place to start. Many data centre-based central power distribution points provide power consumption metrics to show how much electricity a rack or server is chewing through. Measuring the power consumption from any HVAC or cooling equipment is also important, as this can represent a high proportion of a data centre’s energy load.

Make sure to measure individual servers’ CPU usage to see how much spare computing capacity each one has, too. Data centre teams can sometimes consolidate servers, especially those that have not already been virtualized. Using virtualized servers could increase an individual server’s CPU usage and enable your operations team to shut down other machines, saving on power supply and cooling costs.

Turn off what’s not in use

In the office, you can measure the power usage of individual computers using a power meter sitting directly between the computer and the wall socket. As with servers, it’s important to run these meters over an extended period, say 24 hours or so, to get an average reading.

Then, check to ensure your employees are shutting down their computers after work. Leaving them running outside working hours uses unnecessary electricity for two-thirds of each working day and two whole days on the weekend. Fixing this problem alone can lead to big improvements in IT department sustainability efforts.

Aside from simply telling employees to turn off their computers, there are solutions to ensure systems regularly shut down. Several third-party software products, such as the tiny utility DShutdown, will remotely shut down Windows machines, often waiting for the computer to meet certain requirements, such as a low CPU utilization threshold. Alternatively, administrators can run scheduled shutdown.exe tasks on Windows endpoints.

Conduct a full print environment audit

Don’t forget your print environment when conducting an office technology energy audit. Printing is vital for many offices, but there are often improvements you can make to improve efficiency. The same power meter approach used for PC endpoints can help you ascertain energy usage over a set period, but there are other options to create a more advanced analysis of your printing portfolio. Print tracking software, for example, can track all jobs running through your print environment and provide data from which you can draw insights.

A printing audit may reveal some devices are underused and not needed or some users are wasting paper by printing documents needlessly. By analyzing this information, an audit team can make specific recommendations to drastically reduce printer energy usage and supplies waste. Suggesting duplex printing for jobs of certain types could reduce paper consumption, for instance.

Working with a trusted partner can help you accomplish some of these goals. For example, HP has long shown a commitment to sustainability by reducing the number of parts it uses per machine and making more of them recyclable. It also invests in research and development to reduce the energy consumption in its printers.

A managed print services (MPS) partner can also prove especially helpful in providing expertise when auditing your printing assets and activities, giving you the intelligence you need to spot room for improvement in printing patterns. From there, you can find new ways to optimize your printing fleet using a mixture of new processes, device consolidation, recycling strategies, and new configurations.

A sustainability audit can be cheap and productive—and the returns can be significant. If a green summer alone isn’t supercharging your enthusiasm for sustainability, consider the sky-high electricity prices in Ontario. As the cost of running technology increases, an audit to improve your IT department sustainability could be the best money you ever spent.

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