Want to be sustainable? Shut down!
The soft hum of computers is noticeable in every building on campus. When computers are left on, they continue to take up extra energy on the Washington University campus.
Engineering Senator Vinod Ravikumar noticed this excess use of energy on campus.
“My friends and I had noticed that many of these electronics are left on 24 hours, seven days a week, despite the fact that most of them are unused after classes and throughout the night,” Ravikumar said.
To rectify this oversight, Ravikumar proposed a resolution that encourages the use of sustainable technologies on campus.
Student Union Senate passed the resolution the week before spring break, vowing to encourage the reduction of unnecessary emissions.
One part of the resolution ensures that all desktop computers go into “sleep mode” when they are logged off or when they are unused for long periods of time.
It will reduce the power usage of computers by 1 to 2 percent. It also affects a large number of computers; in just nine of the buildings with computer labs on campus, Ravikumar counted more than 1,000 computers.
The resolution also promises support for the exploration of other ways to be sustainable, without detailing any other specific measures.
“As representatives of a caring, environmentally conscious student body, it is our responsibility to show that we support an initiative to make our campus more green,” Ravikumar said.
Because Ravikumar wanted it to pass through Senate as quickly as possible, he did not see a reason to spell out more specific measures in the resolution.
“We’re losing power every day and spending money on this every day,” Ravikumar said. “We’re saving those thousands of watts on a day-to-day basis by passing it now instead of later.”
Although SU has an executive adviser of sustainability, Will Fischer, Ravikumar recognized the need for a resolution to make administrative changes.
“This is a project that the administration needs to take up,” Ravikumar said. “It’s not something that Will Fischer can organize—he doesn’t have control over shutting down computers. It has to be approached by the administration. That’s why I approached STAC.”
Ravikumar has been working with the Student Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) to write to the IT heads of each school. These IT leaders are holding a meeting in early April when they will discuss the resolution and Ravikumar’s letters.
Focusing the administration on the issue of technological sustainability is one of the primary aims of the resolution. The resolution represents the 6,000-member student body, and Ravikumar hopes the resolution brings the impact of that magnitude with it. He also hopes it encourages the administration to think of simple solutions to saving energy.
“It will show administration that there are ways to save energy with these types of simple solutions, and urges them to look into other technologies to see if there are similar ways to cut costs and energy use,” Ravikumar said.
The senator also hopes that the resolution will encourage students to be more environmentally conscious.
“It sets a precedent for other students to follow and other administrators to follow,” Ravikumar said. “I hope that students will start to take a look around at other ways to save power and be sustainable.”