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IT Sustainability Initiatives

The University's Sustainability Plan sets ambitious goals in three areas: greenhouse gas emissions reduction; resource conservation; and research, education, and civic engagement. OIT contributed to these sustainability goals through the following IT-related initiatives.

Print-less initiative
e-reader pilot
DeSC computer power management

Print-less initiative

In FY09 OIT began collaborating with several University offices on a “print-less” initiative to encourage students, faculty and staff to print less ( Partners in this effort are the Office of Sustainability, the Library, the Purchasing Department, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), the Graduate School, and the Graduate Student Government (GSG). As part of this effort, OIT set a goal to reduce printing in OIT clusters by 20% in FY10.

In support of the initiative to print less, the Pharos Uniprint system used in student clusters was configured to manage student quotas for printing to OIT, Library, and Woodrow Wilson School cluster printers. After many conversations with USG and GSG, undergraduate students were allocated a 2100-sheet print quota for the year and graduate students a 3000-sheet print quota. Most students worked within the print allocation; 5% of students requested quota increases.

In FY10, the print-less initiative resulted in 1,450,000 fewer printed sheets, representing a 17% print reduction in the OIT cluster printing from the previous year. Placed end-to-end, 1,450,000 sheets of paper would cover the distance between the Statue of Liberty in NYC and the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. Stacked, the pages saved are nearly as tall as the Washington Monument!

In addition to the reduction in cluster printing, OIT helped nine University departments implement the Pharos Uniprint system to manage departmental printing and achieve print-related cost savings and sustainability goals of their own.

While the initiative generated a measurable reduction in printed pages, an increase in the cost of consumables held the dollar savings in FY10 to a modest 1%, or $3,000, over FY09 expenses. Without the reduction in printing realized through the print-less campaign, the increase in the price of consumables (paper and toner) in FY10 would have cost the University $57,000.

e-reader pilot

In the fall term of 2009, OIT and the Library completed an e-reader pilot to determine if e-reader devices, such as the Amazon Kindle, could help reduce the amount of printing at Princeton. The pilot was successful in this regard; overall printing by pilot participants was 40% less than printing by peers in non-pilot courses. The Kindle device was found to have a number of pedagogical limitations, but, as these are addressed in next-generation devices, we anticipate that the use of e-readers will play a more important role in reducing printing on campus.

DeSC computer power management

In FY10, the DeSC program steering committee worked with OIT to reduce the amount of energy used by desktop computers on campus. The goal was to:

  • Replace older, less energy-efficient computers in the program with newer, more energy-efficient units.
  • Implement power management to shut down program computers when not in use and ‘wake them up’ only for necessary nightly backups or management.

The energy conservation achieved through computer replacement and the implementation of power management for the 1,854 computers in the DeSC program generated an energy savings of 1,272,391 kWh per year, equivalent to taking 15.6 cars off of the road.

An energy savings of 1,272,391 kWh per year reduces energy costs from over $200,000 annually to less than $40,000.