Greening IT

We can all play a part in greening IT to reduce our environmental impact. Learn how here!

At a broad level, Oregon State University is dedicated to formulating strategies that balance sustainable environmental, energy, and economic systems. We can all play a part in reducing the environmental impact of information technology! For example, OSU currently reuses or recycles all computer equipment on campus.

OSU was recently featured in an article on cloud computing in Campus Technology magazine. Read the article.

The following tips provide information about ways you can reduce your computing impact on the environment.

tips for students, faculty, and staff on lab usage

Computer Lab Management

Spring, 2012

The College of Engineering (COE) IT group has been actively working to improve energy efficiency by developing tools to better manage the 14 COE computer labs. See how their working model can apply to other labs on campus.
Go to article.

Archive of Greening IT Tips

About the Greening IT Project

Greening IT is an initiative to reduce the environmental impact of information technology at OSU. The Greening IT group provides value to the OSU community through outreach education and reducing university expenditures in electricity, paper, HVAC, toner, and equipment purchases. Learn more about the Greening IT team and current projects.

Computer Lab Management

Computer labs on campus consume considerable energy. Historically, lab computers (excluding monitors) have been powered on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of usage. Adding to the energy use is the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) that is needed to offset the heat produced by the computers.

For many years, the College of Engineering (COE) IT group has been actively working to improve energy efficiency by developing tools to better manage the 14 COE computer labs and allow the 400+ workstations to sleep as much as possible. Benefits of the project include:

Power Savings

An estimated $8,000 a year in electricity costs are saved, just in the engineering computer labs. This does not include HVAC related savings. COE continues to improve this process, and hopes to soon share this technology with other units on campus.

Viewable Lab Usage

To enable better usage of the lab and reduce frustration for COE users, web pages were developed to show current usage. View lab computer status.

Metrics and Reporting

The software also tracks usage data, alllowing lab managers to plan for demand, adjust staffing and remotely wake computers as needed.

If you are interested in more information about these tools or want to explore how they can be used elsewhere on campus, please email Problems with the computers or feedback about the computers entering sleep mode can be sent to the same address.

computer lab tips for students, staff, and faculty

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Going Paperless

One of the easiest ways to do your part for a green community is to print less. If every student in the university printed 100 fewer sheets of paper per year, or the equivalent of 20 assignments at 5 pages each, we would save 13 tons of paper annually!

paperless tips for students, staff, and faculty

There are a lot of ways to reduce the number of pages you print, but here are a few simple ideas.

For Students

  • Don't print rough drafts. If you have to print the assignment at all, just print the final copy.
  • Ask your professor to accept digital copies of your work. It doesn't hurt to ask.

For Staff & Faculty

  • Don't print out syllabi for the students. Rather, send them electronically via email or post on Blackboard.
  • For meetings, try not to print out anything, including any presentation slides. If you need to hand out information, send it electronically before the meeting, if possible. That way, if someone wants to bring a copy, they can bring their own, be it a digital copy or hard copy.

For Everyone

  • When acceptable, print on both sides of the paper by using the printer/copier's double-sided (duplex) function.
  • Make it a personal goal to never print an email.
  • Brainstorm all the things you print on a regular basis and ask yourself why you have to print them. Many of the things we print are never used or are filed away, never to be seen again.
  • If your college grants you a certain number of free prints, don’t feel like you have to use them. No one will get angry if you don't.

Other Ways to Help

There are many more ways you can help conserve our valuable resources. If you would like to know more about what you or your department can do, please see the following.

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Reducing Electronic Waste

Electronics are made from heavy metals and plastics, both of which take a large toll on the environment. Metals, primarily copper, lead, and mercury, account for 30 to 50 percent of a computer. But there are many ways to slow the use of these resources.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

What You Can Do


Don't get a new computer until you have to! If you just use your computer for Microsoft Office and web browsing, an older computer will probably do the trick. Here are some tips to extend your current computer's lifespan.

  • Remedy software problems by refreshing your Operating System (OS). Configuration changes to your applications can help, too.
  • Remove old files from your hard drive. A cramped hard drive can slow your computer down. Store old files on thumb drives, external hard drives, or cloud servers.
  • Wait until hardware issues occur before buying a new one. Just remember to back up your data frequently! This is, of course, a good practice on computers of any age.

Students: Contact the OSU Computer Helpdesk for assistance or recommendations to maximize your current computer.


If your computer is less than five years old, chances are that somebody else can use the computer.

  • OSU owned equipment: At the end of the equipment's life your OSU owned equipment must go to OSU Surplus. You can work with your computer support groupOSU Surplus.
  • Personally owned devices: You can donate it to charity or give it to another person. Be sure to remove all your personal data from the computer first!
  • Need equipment? Need a device or piece of equipment for your department? Check with OSU Surplus to see if used equipment will fit your needs.


Recycle computer equipment to reduce electronic waste
Creative Commons licensed
from Mosman Council

Just because your computer is broken beyond repair doesn't mean that it should go in the garbage bin. In fact, House Bill 2626 makes it illegal to dispose of televisions, laptops, and computers in any landfill in Oregon.

  • OSU employees: Your OSU owned equipment must go to Surplus. Work with your computer support group to have your OSU computer equipment reused or processed properly by OSU Surplus.
  • Students and personal computers: You can recycle your old equipment at Goodwill, an office supply store, or a computer repair store.

The Bottom Line

Don't throw your electronics in the trash; there are many places to recycle them.

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