Shut off and Save: An Analysis of Energy Use and Environmental Impact of Dalhousie Studley Campus Computers
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Fossil fuel emissions are currently described as the main cause of global warming. This is a result of energy use and is of particular concern when energy is wasted, therefore results in unnecessary emissions. This study focused on energy waste on Dalhousie University campus pertaining to computers left idle in the Marion McCain Arts and Social Science student computer labs. Four research methods were utilized; literature review, interviews, observations and student surveys. Observations over a two week period indicated that 71% of the computers were left on and not used by students. This resulted in the combustion of 7.92-19.80 metric tons of coal and the emission of 20.49-51.23 metric tons of CO2, 49.91-124.76 kg of SO2 and 50.90-127.26 kg of NO2. As well, it is costing Dalhousie University between $1396.14 and $3490.35 per eight month academic term. Student surveys indicated that students would be willing to turn the computers off after each use and this would not alter their time spent in the labs. As well, students believed that leaving computers idle was harmful to the environment. Recommendations to Dalhousie University included a “shut-off” program where the start menu would only allow students to “shut-off” in order to exit their user account. Decreasing the number of computers made available to the students during weekends and non-peak hours by closing certain computer labs was also suggested. Suggested areas for future research included an expanded observation period to include the summer and the exam periods, as well as the comparison of labs across campus. Further research into computer technology regarding “shut-off” and energy saving software is advised. Finally, measurements regarding the quantity of energy consumed by idle computers should be further investigated to increase the validity of the study.