EKU Earns National Recognition for "Green" Practices in IT

Eastern Kentucky University has earned national recognition as a “green” innovator in information technology.

In a story entitled “Sustainable IT” in its June 2010 edition, University Business magazine cites EKU’s IT operation three times among its “30 tips for going green with IT operations and equipment.” Only one other institution, St. Edward’s University of Texas, is mentioned more often than EKU. The entire article can be viewed at www.universitybusiness.com/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=1615.

“Recognition like this shows that EKU is taking every opportunity to make improvements in how we conduct business and lessen our impact on the planet,” said Mona Isaacs, associate vice president for information technology.

“This demonstrates our commitment to being good stewards of the environment and resources at our disposal. The decisions that have led to these savings may have a common thread of IT, but they are part of a greater community effort to be more efficient and effective in our communications. Going paperless in these areas has taken the support of Financial Affairs, Financial Aid, and Student Accounting, to name only a few. The success of these initiatives is the result of collaboration and teamwork throughout the entire university.”

The magazine recognizes EKU’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint in each of three categories: Power, Paper and Virtualization.

In the Power category, Eastern’s IT staff was commended for beginning a process last year to configure desktop machines in all of its IT labs to go into power saver mode after a time of non-use, thereby minimizing off-peak power consumption and save on cooling.

In the Paper category, as e-mail has become the default mode of campus communication, IT has implemented many changes to reduce the number of printed pages, in some cases ceasing to print items. In recent years, the University has eliminated printing of payroll checks, grades, student invoices and financial aid award letters. In addition, many University forms are now web-based, and the telephone directory is only available online. Those changes alone have saved the University almost 400,000 pages per year and eliminated more than 150,000 pieces of outgoing mail, also saving on postage.

“We have also changed the way reports are distributed throughout campus,” said Isaacs. “In the old days, we printed box after box of ‘green bar’ paper. This was printed in the central data center and distributed daily through campus mail. Now reports are most frequently delivered electronically and printed only if necessary. This is not only a savings, but a culture change on campus.”

In the Virtualization category, EKU was recognized for moving individual servers to a virtual server environment, dramatically reducing power consumption, also enabling the host machines to run more to their intended capacity.

“Prior to virtualization, we had approximately 100 servers in our data center, each one doing a different job,” Isaacs noted. “Today we have reduced the number of servers by approximately 40. Now we have about 60 more energy-efficient servers doing the work that would take more than 130 individual servers without virtualization. Rather than increase our energy consumption by 30 percent, in a traditional server environment, we estimate our energy savings is in excess of 40 percent as a result of virtualization. An additional consequence of this virtualization is the reduction in cooling costs.”

Isaacs said that IT is currently researching virtualization of the desktop computer. “New developments in this technology offer hope for cutting computing costs, support costs, as well as energy usage and cooling costs.

“We continue to develop online tools and applications that can deliver information electronically,” she added.

“Many enhancements to EKUDirect (a Web portal for EKU students and employees) have reduced the need for printing even further. While individuals can choose to print, or not print, we try to give everyone the opportunity to avoid printing whenever possible.”

Also, “we are conscientious of the way we dispose of obsolete equipment. Rather than send our e-scrap to the local landfill, it is recycled and returned to the manufacturing process.”

As the leading provider of smart management solutions for higher education administrators at two- and four-year colleges and universities throughout the United States, University Business (www.universitybusiness.com) is the most-closely followed and most-widely preferred information source in the industry, bringing top-quality journalism to the unique issues, challenges and opportunities faced by higher-education executives. University Business covers every important facet of higher education: technology, finance, facilities, recruitment and retention, security, management, administration, financial aid, and sustainability.

Published on August 19, 2010