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Power down: RaDLab crunching numbers on potential energy savings

If, as a Creighton University employee, you’ve noticed your monitor going dark recently, have no fear — you’re helping save energy, money and maybe even the planet.

And while this move is automatic, some officials with the Division of Information Technology are hopeful it could spur more people at the University to take voluntary measures toward savings.

A few months ago, a system update was rolled out to most Windows-based PCs on the Creighton campus to automatically power down monitors when not in use. With the update in place, Creighton stands to save about $5,000 in electricity costs annually and reduce by about 80,000 pounds the amount of carbon dioxide the campus emits.

“It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a step,” said Steve Maaske, an innovation analyst with DoIT and the University’s RaDLab, the hub of technological research at Creighton. “And there’s more that we can do, if we motivate people and show them that taking small steps like powering down a device can start adding up into making a big difference.”

In fact, Maaske said, if all Apple system monitors — not part of the system rollout — were shut down, the University would save upwards of $7,500 annually, with corresponding CO2 reductions.

Now, Maaske and DoIT are trying to initiate a campaign encouraging people across the University to turn off not only their monitors, but to remember to shut down their computers each night before heading home.

With the effort to power-down CPUs and monitors, the University would realize $15,000 in monetary savings and another lessening of its ecological footprint.

Ryan Cameron, senior director of innovation and research and development in the RaDLab, said DoIT has no plans to initiate a nightly CPU shutdown, given the inconveniences for faculty and staff, and the possibility of losing valuable data, but he hopes University personnel might take the message to heart and voluntarily turn off their computers at the end of the workday.

“There’s a persistent myth that shutting off your computer somehow damages it or slows it down, but that’s just not the case,” Cameron said. “A computer turns on at about the same speed it always does, regardless of the frequency with which it is shut down and powered on. Our advice is to turn your machine and monitor off at night, turn them back on again in the morning. It’s just that easy to save the University a couple dollars and cut down on our emissions.”

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