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Don’t wait until 8

Mark this as an important new phrase for students, staff and faculty on campus in 2012: don’t wait until 8. 

In the new year, a program will roll-out across UMass Chan Medical School to automatically turn off most computers on campus each night. The initiative will reduce energy consumption and save money, thereby making campus operations more sustainable. By taking action on their own, however, those who work or study on campus can make the impact of this initiative even greener. 

“We are excited about this program going campus-wide, because the impact is so significant,” said Melissa Lucas, sustainability and energy efficiency manager. “We can achieve even bigger gains if people simply turn off their computer, monitor, speakers, lights and other plug-in devices when they leave work each night. They don’t have to wait until the automatic shut down at 8 p.m. It can be as easy as using a power strip under their desk with one switch to turn everything off.” 

To help promote the shut-down program, UMass Chan Medical School’s Sustainability Committee will enlist the assistance of “Green Reps” within departments. These volunteers will encourage people to remember to shut their computers, and eventually become leaders in their departments on a range of sustainability projects. Anyone interested in becoming a Green Rep, should send an email

There are nearly 4,000 personal computers on campus, and a recent analysis by the school’s Information Services (IS) department revealed that 53 percent of those computers are left on overnight during the week, and 50 percent over the weekend. The review also found that the vast majority of the computers left on after working hours were not accessed overnight by their users. 

IS now has a software solution in place that will shut-down personal computers after hours, most at 8 p.m.. When people take the initiative to shut their computer when they leave work, however, they not only save the electricity that would have been used until 8 p.m., there is potential savings on the following day. If, for example a person has an off-site meeting the following morning and doesn’t need their PC on until 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., there are savings captured. Similarly if a person takes a sick day or a personal day, the entire day’s electricity will be saved. 

Based on the results of a pilot program run in selected departments, it is estimated that the automatic shut-down of computers across the campus could save $182,000 annually in electricity costs, and help reduce the environmental impact of having to generate that electricity. 

“So our word to the wise for 2012 is ‘don’t wait until 8,’” Lucas said.