9 ways to go green and save green

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Going green is all the rage for a lot of reasons.  Although some of this green talk is hype, a lot of it is the real deal.  There are a number of things that you can do in your business to easily and cheaply jump on the green bandwagon and saving your organization a few dollars at the same time you help reduce your impact on the planet.

Green desktops.  Most PC vendors today have an option for more efficient power supplies in desktop PCs.  These power supplies reduce heat waste in your computers and can help to lower your overall energy costs.  For example, Dell's Studio Hybrid consumes only 26W when idle and 44W at full load.  In contrast a typical desktop computer can consume two, three and four times this amount.  At the same time, make sure that power management is enabled on desktop PCs so that power consumption is, for example, greatly reduced by turning off a monitor after 20 minutes of idling.

Go to the cloud for your desktop services.  Does your small business have relatively simple needs limited to email, word processing, spreadsheets and Internet access?  CherryPal offers a service that can reduce energy costs related to desktop computing by up to 98%!  CherryPal's unique PC consumes just 2W of power, although you will still have to power a monitor separately as you do for another other PC.  CherryPal desktop computers have very minimal software installed and rely on users making use of Internet resources, such as GoogleDocs, although an open source word processor is installed on the unit.  

Virtualize.  If you have any kind of significant server infrastructure in place in your organization and you haven't virtualized everything humanly possible, do it today.  Stop reading right here, go virtualize your servers and then come back and pick up where you left off.  Seriously - it's easy if you use a product like PlateSpin, which automates the process of converting physical machines to virtual servers.  With the number of options out there for virtualizing hardware, there is no reason at all anymore to default to a physical server solution for anything, unless absolutely required due to hardware compatibility issues or sheer processing needs.  Virtualizing your server hardware to fewer boxes will save you money both in hardware and in energy savings.

Ditch your phone system.  If you're large enough to have your own phone system and it's reaching the end of its useful life, look for a replacement that uses less energy.  We recently replaced our outdated phone switch with a unit that uses half the energy.  Obviously, we didn't replace the system just to save energy as the cost/benefit would have been way off, but it's a nice benefit.

Force duplex printing.  Do your printers have duplexing units that allow you to print on both sides of paper?  If so, force the printers to print duplex by default.

Consider recycled toner cartridges.  This one is tricky because using the wrong vendor can ruin your printer and void your warranty and there are a lot of scam artists out there.  We've located a great recycled toner cartridge vendor local to Westminster College and we've had outstanding success... less toner waste goes to the landfill and we're saving a ton of money to boot.  Do your research, get references and test!

Put your PCs on power strips.  Even when they're not on, desktop PCs consume a small amount of electricity.  By putting your PCs on power strips and asking your employees to turn their computers off at night by flipping the switch on the power strip, you'll eliminate this trickle of power.  Be warned, however, that going down this road will also eliminate your ability to perform automatic nightly maintenance on desktop computers since they will be unable to receive any communication from the network.

Unplug the chargers.  When your employees aren't charging their cell phones and other devices, ask them to unplug their chargers.  Even when not actively charging anything, chargers do consume power.

Consider work-from-home arrangements.  Do your employees perform work that must be handled from a central location or can they work from anywhere?  If possible, consider allowing your employees to work from home and provide them with laptops.  By doing this, you avoid having to have space for as many people; this is space that you have to light and heat.  Further, your employees themselves will have less of an environmental impact since they won't be on the road as much.

What do you do in your own organization to reduce your impact on the environment?

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