Columbia's Guide to Green Computing
Reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption from the comfort of your workstation
Computers at Columbia
There are approximately 30,000 computers in the University's dorm rooms, offices, classrooms, and labs. By conservative estimates, these computers consume 3.5 million kWh of electricity each year. This results in the release of more than 4.5 million pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. If these computers are not properly recycled at the end of their lifespan, the toxins they leech when discarded in landfills could contaminate soil and water.
The ways we use and dispose of computers can have a significant impact on the environment. Below is a practical guide to green computing in our offices, dorms and homes.
What You Can Do: A Quick Summary
Buy Green. Buy new equipment only when you need it. When you do buy, select Energy Star-compliant devices and consider the long-term energy requirements of your purchases.
Reduce Energy Consumption. Enable the power management functions of your computer, and turn off your computer and printer when you’re not using them.
Print and Copy Responsibly. Always consider circulating and editing documents electronically. Print and copy on both sides of the paper whenever possible, and follow other tips to conserve paper, ink and toner.
Dispose of Your Computer Properly. When you must part with your computer, consider donating it to Columbia or to a community organization. If its useful life has come to an end, see that it is recycled, never discarded.
Date: August 26, 2009
Columbia teams up with New York City parks in computer reuse effort
Finding suitable new homes for unneeded Columbia computers depends on finding a great partnership.
Dana Vlcek, Director of Corporate and Community Relations in the Dean's office at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, says he's learned this through a year-long effort to find a local agency ready and able to receive more than a hundred computers, monitors, servers and storage units collected for donation from SEAS, Columbia University Information Technology, University Development and Alumni Relations, and the School of Architecture.
The partnership to which Vlcek refers is a newly forged relationship between Columbia and the City of New York Parks& Recreation Department, focused on the Department's 29 Computer Resource Centers (CRCs) across the five boroughs and overseen by Olga Gazman, CRC Director.
The CRCs serve more than 150,000 New Yorkers each year. About 55 percent of users are six to 17 years old, 25 percent are young to middle aged, and 20 percent are seniors. Most centers have instructors, Gazman says, so computer users are "not just going into the center for e-mail."
Vlcek says that "Olga understood the potential in this reuse donation effort. She has the computer savvy." And, the CRCs themselves are self-sufficient, with the staff resources to handle computers that are changed out cyclically after three to four years of use at Columbia.
Vlcek says the donation to the CRCs is "actually the outgrowth of an ‘academic, on paper' computer recycling program developed with the Department of Environmental Stewardship." Columbia had the machines and CRCs had the software licensing lease - so it all came together.
"I pushed it through, and told Olga ‘you're about to drink from a cyberhose if you're ready,'" he says.
Gazman says the Columbia equipment will replace six-to-seven-year-old computers at seven CRCs in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. Two of the Manhattan locations are in Harlem - the Pelham Fritz Recreation Center in Marcus Garvey Park, and Jackie Robinson Park.
Last year, CRCs across the city offered more than 600 classes and workshops on topics such as computer basics, digital photography and video editing. Gazman says the work transition program and other career services are particularly valuable in underserved areas of Harlem.
Now that Parks & Recreation has received the computers, Gazman says she hopes their technicians will have them up and running before the start of the school year.
John Lussier, Manager, Systems Engineering, CUIT, describes himself as "managing a bunch of labs" whose computers were ready for life-cycle replacement. He found it difficult, he says, "to find a viable party to pick up the computers - but Vlcek was the go-between, the one with the contacts."
Vlcek, meantime, says all the ideas about computer reuse that came into play a few years ago were good ones, but the challenge was in actually making it happen. The City of New York Parks & Recreation Department is a "good recipient," he believes. "The hard part at this point is plugging the equipment in and formatting.
"If the computers are deployed as expected," Vlcek says, "I look forward to a long, viable partnership" with Parks & Recreation.
For more information on the Computer Resource Centers, go tohttp://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_things_to_do/crc/index.html