Green IT at Sussex

In IT Services, we're working to make Sussex greener with initiatives to reduce power consumption, recycle computer equipment and save on resources.

Sussex target to reduce carbon emissions
2005 - 2020

tonnes of carbon dioxide produced annually by the HE sector in the UK

To meet the targets in the Climate Change Act, the UK government has to halve carbon emissions over the next forty years. As a result, new requirements are being set for industry and Sussex has adopted a target to reduce carbon emissions by 2020.

One important area where savings must be achieved is in the more efficient use of technology. This is no easy task. As a whole, the higher education sector in the UK uses millions of computers and printers, producing 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. But it's possible to reduce emissions considerably by making sensible and steady changes and IT Services have been working hard to identify the areas where savings can be made.

Travelling without moving


days' travel

Estimated annual savings based on our surveys of staff using the videoconferencing facilities at Sussex.

Staff at Sussex use several systems for videoconferencing, enabling them to participate in conferences, research meetings and vivas in locations all over the world.

The dedicated videoconferencing suite in Arundel provides a high-quality service, linking to other institutions with similar videoconference systems.

Staff can also use Adobe connect to host video conferences - and can invite anybody to take part with a standard web browser.

A number of seminar rooms in Fulton are also set up with speakers and cameras, allowing staff to use Skype or Adobe Connect to participate in videoconferences.

Videoconferencing services at Sussex

Power hunger

We are now automatically detecting student computers which have been waiting at the login screen for ten minutes and putting them to sleep.

Our power management software monitors computer usage and identifies when a computer has been idle with no user logged in. It then puts the device to sleep so that computers are not needlessly using energy when not in use.

We also use automated routines to turn off audiovisual equipment in lecture theatres and seminar rooms. This has reduced power consumption but is also extending the life of expensive equipment with fewer hardware faults since the measures were introduced.

More about power-saving on Sussex PCs

Student computers in the Library

If nobody is logged in, hibernate after

If you're logged in but inactive, sleep after
15  minutes

If still inactive, log you off after a further

Cool data

The Shawcross data centre is now well established. It was designed to meet the current and future technology requirements of the University in an energy-efficient way.

Computers need energy to run, but they also generate heat that can damage their components if it's not dissipated. So computers require a double-dose of energy, firstly to power their own activities but also to keep them cool.

The cooling systems used traditionally in data centres, such as air conditioning, are inefficient because they lower the temperature of the entire room rather than just the computing equipment. Best practice in modern facilities is to place the cooling mechanism directly alongside servers and use systems which can respond to changes in the amount of heat being generated.

The Shawcross facility uses water-cooling units built into the server racks. If less energy has to be put into the cooling mechanisms, the operation is more efficient and the Shawcross data centre has been designed to a world-class standard.

diagram showing cool water inflow and warm water outflow

In the Shawcross data centre, servers are cooled much more efficiently than traditional server rooms, with water fed along pipes built into the racks.

Recycle and reuse

A modern higher education environment demands up-to-date and increasingly powerful computing resources.

This means that computers are replaced regularly, generally on a four year cycle. But equipment could be used for longer by other types of organisation, so IT Services has encouraged the re-use of equipment by donating resources to charitable projects such as Computers for Charities.

This can considerably extend the use of equipment and lead to a long working life for computers leaving the campus.

computers recycled every year

Based on the year to July 2011 with computers sent to Computers for Charities.

See also: the Sussex Estates and Facilities pages for information about recycling on the campus.

Practical action

Here are four things you can start doing today to help conserve energy and resources:

Print less - and if you have to, use the double-sided printing options where possible to save on paper and reduce your printing costs.

Turn off your wi-fi if you're not using it. It uses a lot of power even if it's just running in the background.

Let your computer sleep - newer computers are designed to sleep and wake quickly and Windows 7 uses substantially less power than previous versions when snoozing. If you're a laptop user, letting your computer sleep will make the battery last longer too.

Work remotely - you can get access to a lot of Sussex systems if you're working from home - you might not have to travel into campus. If you're a member of staff, the new Windows Remote service enables you to use a wide range of software and files.

Green IT

In IT Services, we're working hard to make Sussex greener:

  • energy-efficient data storage - the new Shawcross Data Centre has been designed to meet the University's data storage requirements with world-class energy efficiency
  • smarter use of resources - we provide alternatives to paper resources, including Study Direct, Sussex Direct and email. We have also introduced initiatives such as double-sided printing to help reduce the volume of printed pages on the campus and provide videoconferencing services as alternatives to travel
  • responsible management of equipment - we dispose of equipment by environmentally responsible methods, seeking ways in which devices can be reused wherever possible

How you can help

There are a number of ways you can help the University to achieve its targets to reduce carbon emissions:

  • think before you print - be sparing when you come to print a document, use double-sided printing and if you only need part of a document, print only the pages you need
  • logout - if you're a member of staff, remember to logout when you leave and power off your computer and monitor overnight
  • turn down the brightness - give it a try! It's easier on the eyes and if the display seems too dim at first, give your vision a few minutes to adjust

Eco paper

We supply environmentally friendly paper for the student printers on the campus.

Updated on 27 April 2015