Table Of Contents:


  1. Introduction
  2. Computer Operating Costs
  3. Energy Efficient Computing
    .....Enable Power Management Features
    .....Turn Off When Not In Use
  4. Screen Savers Don't Save Energy
  5. Reducing Paper Waste
  6. Campus Environmental Policies
  7. Recycling Toner Cartridges, Diskettes and CD's
  8. Purchasing Recommendations
  9. Recycling Old Computers
  10. Why Conserve Energy?




Computers are one of the fastest growing electrical loads in the business world. Each year more and more computers are purchased and put to use. But it’s not just the number of computers which is driving energy consumption upward. The way that we use computers also adds to the increasing energy burden.

Research reveals that most personal desktop computers are not being used the majority of the time they are running and many personal computers nationwide are needlessly left on continuously.

Over the last fifteen years, computers have transformed the academic and administrative landscape at the University at Buffalo (UB). There are now over 17,000 computers on campus. Personal computer (PC) operation alone may directly account for nearly $400,000 per year in University energy costs.

Computers generate heat and require additional cooling which adds to energy costs. Thus, the overall energy costs of UB’s personal computers is more likely in the $600,000 to $700,000 range.

Meeting computer cooling needs (in summer and winter) often compromises the efficient use of building cooling and heating systems by requiring colder fan discharge temperatures. In the summer, these temperatures may satisfy computer lab cooling needs while overcooling other spaces.

Given UB’s commitment to energy conservation and environmental stewardship, we must address the issue of responsible computer use. By adopting conserving practices, annual savings of at least $300,000 are possible.

<--------Go back to the Table of Contents

How Much Energy Does Your Computer System Use?

A typical desktop PC system is comprised of the computer itself (the CPU or “box”), a monitor and printer. Your CPU may require anywhere from 50 to 150 watts of electric power. Add 50 to 150 watts for a 15-17 inch color monitor, proportionately more for larger monitors. The power requirements of conventional laser printers can be as much as 100 watts or more when printing though much less if idling in a “sleep mode.” Ink jet printers use as little as 12 watts while printing and 5 watts while idling.

Thus, a typical PC system can use electricity at the rate of 110 to 300 watts or more. At current electric prices, what does this cost the University? That all depends on how the computer system is operated.

First let’s take the worst case, continuous operation. Assuming you operate a 200 watt PC system day and night everyday, direct annual electrical costs would be over $125 (at $0.075/kWh). In contrast, if you operate your system just during conventional business hours, say 40 hours per week, the direct annual energy cost would be about $30 -plus, of course, the cost of providing additional cooling.

Considering the tremendous benefits of computer use, neither of the above cost figures may seem like much. But think of what happens when these costs are multiplied by the many thousands of computers in use at UB. The energy waste dollars add up quickly.


How Many Dollars of Computer Energy Consumption Can You Save?

Here are some suggestions which may computer energy consumption by 80 percent or more without losing any productivity or other benefits of your computer system.
<--------Go back to the Table of Contents

Energy Efficient Computing

A. Enabling Power Management Features
Thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), personal computer systems purchased today can be easy on energy. These “Energy Star” computers and monitors can be programmed to automatically “power-down” to a low power state when they are not being used. These efficiency gains can be achieved without any sacrifice in computing performance.

The EPA has estimated that providing computers with a “sleep mode” reduces their energy use by 60 to 70 percent -and ultimately could save enough electricity each year to power Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, cut electric bills by $2 billion, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of 5 million cars.

Follow these simple steps to enable computer and monitor power management features for Windows 95. Windows 98 and 2000 have similar enabling instructions

  1. Click “Start” at the bottom left side of your screen.
  2. Go to “Settings” and click on “Control Panel.”.
  3. Open “Display” and click on “Screen Saver.”.
  4. Check “Low Power Standby” and “Shut Off Monitor” boxes..
  5. Select the time (choose a short duration, e.g. 5 minutes, to get monitor to sleep as soon as possible).
  6. Go back to “Control Panel” and select “Power.”
  7. Check “allow Windows to manage power” box.
  8. Click on “disk drive” tab.
  9. Select time (choose a short duration, e.g. 5 minutes, to get your computer to sleep as soon as possible).

To save energy with your monitor’s built-in power management system, your monitor must go blank. If screen saver images appear on your monitor for more than 5 minutes, you are wasting energy!

B. Turn It Off Whenever Possible
This is the most basic energy conservation strategy for any type of equipment. Consider the following:

Some Specific Suggestions

While the energy saving suggestions listed above are appropriate for many campus PC users, some of the suggestions may be inappropriate for certain computer applications or work situations. When in doubt, discuss possible energy conservation measures with your colleagues, supervisor or computer lab director to determine which steps can be taken without harming productivity.


Our Energy Conservation Program Will Not Work Without Your Help

Be an energy educator and gently remind your co-workers and colleagues to save energy by changing their computer habits. Circulate this booklet among the members of your office or department. Gain the support of your supervisor and set up a brief meeting to discuss how to implement energy saving strategies.

<--------Go back to the Table of Contents

About Screen Savers

“Screen saver” programs may save the phosphors in your monitor screen but they do not save energy. A screen saver which displays moving images causes your monitor to consume as much electricity as it does when in active use. These screen saver programs also involve system interaction with your CPU which results in additional energy consumption. A blank screen saver is slightly better but even that only reduces monitor energy consumption by a few percent.

The best screen saver is also the best energy saver, i.e. turn off your monitor when you are not using it! This step also eliminates concern about exposure to any electromagnetic radiation emanating from the monitor.

The next best screen saver is using your computer’s power management feature to automatically shut the monitor down quickly when you are not using your computer. In this case, your monitor will come back to life in a few seconds as soon as you move your mouse. See instructions on page 5 for enabling power management features.

You Can Turn Your Computer Off!
It is commonly thought that a computer’s life is shortened by turning it on and off. This belief has led some people to leave their computers on all the time. Others are reluctant to switch their computers on and off a couple times during their work day, even though they are only using this equipment for a fraction of that time.

Most experts agree that turning PC equipment off at night or on and off a few times a day will not appreciably affect its useful life which may only be a few years in any event because of technological obsolescence. Electronic equipment life is a function of operating hours and heat. Both these factors are reduced when equipment is switched off. Concerning hard drive reliability, modern drives are designed and tested to operate reliably for many thousands of hours including thousands of on/off cycles.

Thus, you CAN turn off your computer (and monitor and printer)! The inconvenience of waiting a minute or two for a computer to reboot or peripheral to come back on line may be trivial compared to the energy savings which can be achieved by keeping computer equipment off when not in use.


Other Steps Toward Green Computing

You can take a giant step toward environmentally responsible or “green computing” by conserving energy with your computer. But green computing involves other important steps as well. These pertain to paper use, toner cartridges, disposal of old computer equipment and purchasing decisions when considering new computer equipment.

<--------Go back to the Table of Contents



How to Reduce Paper

Rather than creating a paperless office, computer use has vastly increased paper consumption and paper waste. Here are some suggestions for reducing this waste:



Toward Environmental and Academic Excellence

"I purpose a different ranking system for colleges based on whether the institution and its graduates move the world in a more sustainable direction or not. Do four years at a particular institution instill knowledge, love and competence toward the natural world, or indifference and ignorance? Are the graduates of this or that college suited for a responsible life on a planet with a biosphere?”

-David Orr

<--------Go back to the Table of Contents



University Environmental Policies

UB has a number of policies which support the recommendations contained in this booklet including the Recycling Policy (1997) and the Sustainable Energy Policy (2000). Other policies include those listed below.

Campus Work/Production Processes Policy (1993) states that UB will constantly strive to promote and publicize the implementation of work/production processes which maximize the use of recycled products, minimize or eliminate waste, seek economies and efficiencies, and reduce the consumption of energy.

UB’s Environmentally Sound Products Procurement Policy (1993) commits UB to seeking to utilize to the fullest extent possible products which are “environmentally friendly,” namely, energy efficient and not harmful to the natural environment.

All of these policies were developed by the University’s Environmental Task Force. Policy texts can be found on the UB Green web site, http://wings.buffalo.edu/ubgreen.

<--------Go back to the Table of Contents



Reusing and Recycling Printer Toner Cartridges and Computer Diskettes

UB generates thousands of spent printer toner cartridges a year. Instead of tossing these in the garbage can, they can be refilled and reused, thus saving resources and reducing pollution and solid waste. To obtain information about refilling toner cartridges call Beth Fenush at 645-5000*1165.

Computer diskettes may be inexpensive, but why keep buying more if you don’t need to? Diskettes with outdated information on them can be reformatted and reused. Also keep an eye out for the disk and CD recycling boxes in the public CIT computing labs. Contact the UB Green Office at 829-3535 for more information.

<--------Go back to the Table of Contents




In the Market for a New Computer or Printer?

Environmentally responsible computer use implies not buying new equipment unless there is a demonstrated need. Thus, before buying new equipment, consider the following questions:

But if you do need new equipment, buy efficient and buy green.


Purchasing Recommendations

<--------Go back to the Table of Contents


What To Do With Your Old Equipment?

Currently, UB is not required by law to recycle computer monitors, CPUs, key This booklet was produced by the University at Buffalo’s UB Green Office in cooperation with the University’s Environmental Task Force.

Text by Walter Simpson, UB Energy Officer. Cover cartoon by Tom Toles, Buffalo News editorial cartoonist and UB alumnus.

Thanks to all who helped with the original booklet (published in 1994). Thanks to Erin Cala for the editing and layout of this 2000 edition.

University Facilities
University at Buffalo (SUNY)
220 Winspear Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14215


Why Conserve Energy?

Energy conservation has been called the “least-cost” energy strategy, and for good reason. At UB, energy conservation measures are saving in excess of $9 million in energy costs annually.

But energy conservation does more than just save money. It reduces environmental and social costs as well.

Energy conservation mitigates the numerous adverse environmental and social impacts associated with energy production and consumption. These include air pollution, acid rain and global warming, oil spills and water pollution, loss of wilderness areas, construction of new power plants, foreign energy dependence and the risk of international conflict over energy supplies.










<--------Go back to the Table of Contents

E.I.C    UO Home    Facilities    Others    Contact Us   UO Printshop