DMU's scheme to reduce computer power consumption on campus could save tonnes of CO2 emissions


DMU is committed to saving energy and reducing the university’s carbon footprint. One way to help achieve those goals is to minimise the amount of time that classrooms and lab computers are kept switched on.

Until now, ITMS has been keeping the computers powered up between 7.30am and 9pm. This was to ensure that they are on and ready for students to start work right away.

However, this means – at various times each day – that computers have been sitting idle but still consuming electricity.

Students using the DMU computers installed in the majority of classrooms and labs on campus will soon need to switch them on manually to begin their work.

The power-management update will be rolled out this summer as part of the annual student lab refresh. This means that lab computers will be modified in stages while ITMS carries out routine software upgrades.

PC Power Management560

Why is DMU making this change?

According to our estimates, DMU could save between 46 and 185 tonnes of carbon emissions each year by having the PCs automatically shut down when they are not being used*. Given the recent rise in energy prices, we expect the plan to also result in important cost savings to the university of between £30,000 and £120,000 per year.

Energy savings will be at their highest during non-term times, with a likely reduction in PC power consumption of at least 90% compared to before. The plan also reduces the amount of air conditioning needed to cool these rooms in summer.

Will this change cause any inconvenience?

Starting up a DMU computer from ‘cold’ is now a much quicker process. Most of our devices use fast solid-state hard drives, which bring start-up times down to as little as 20 seconds in many cases.

The computers will automatically shut down if no one has logged in for 30 minutes. If you are already working on a PC, you won’t be prompted to log out, and you can carry on without interruption.

If a computer has been off for a while will it need to do a big software update before it’s ready?

We ensure that all our PCs are running the latest software. This is part of our institutional obligation to maintain strong cyber security.

To do this, each machine will automatically switch on for 30 minutes at 7.30am, before teaching sessions begin. If no one is using the PC after that time, it will shut down again, having had a chance to receive and apply any essential updates.

One exception would be Adobe Creative Cloud updates, which can take place while you are working. These won’t prevent you from using Microsoft Windows and its apps but they may slightly slow down the PC for a short time.

Who do I ask if I need help?

Please speak to a lecturer, DMU technician, your faculty’s Student Advice Centre or contact the ITMS Service Desk if you have any queries or concerns.

*Savings are based on a guide assessment that PCs normally use 100 kilowatt hours per year.

Posted on Wednesday 13th July 2022

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