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University of Iowa News Release


March 10, 2009

UI seeks pledges from computer users to 'Power Down for the Planet'

The average desktop computer wastes nearly half the power delivered to it, which translates into higher energy bills and unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions.

On Monday, March 23, the University of Iowa and college campuses across the world will ask students, faculty and staff to pledge to "Power Down for the Planet" by making simple changes to their personal computers' power management settings. Managers of UI campus computers that sit idle at night are making a similar commitment.

To take the pledge, beginning March 23, visit

Although the campaign's recommended steps are simple, their impact could be dramatic.

Organizers of Power Down for the Planet estimate that one computer set to go into sleep mode when not in use could save $40 to $60 a year in energy consumption and nearly half a ton of CO2 emissions. A university with 70,000 networked computers could save as much as $3.7 million per year just by activating power management features on all of its computers. That's the equivalent of removing 6,300 cars from the road for an entire year. Nationally, by enabling power saving features on desktop personal computers, college students could collectively contribute to annual savings of more than $206 million in energy costs.

"Power Down for the Planet is primarily an awareness campaign, but one that underscores how easy it is to waste valuable resources without really thinking," said Liz Christiansen, director of the UI Office of Sustainability, which is partnering with UI Information Technology Services on the UI Power Down campaign. "Fortunately, in the case of computers, there's also a relatively easy fix."

UI Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer Steve Fleagle said computer power management is just one of many strategies the university is exploring to save money, help the environment and serve as a responsible steward of finite energy resources.

"Last year President Mason called on the campus to make sustainability a priority in every aspect of university life, from academics to operations, and Power Down for the Planet is perfectly in synch with that aspiration," Fleagle said. "Computers are so central to the work of the university that it's imperative we manage those resources wisely."

A number of offices across campus are already practicing computer power management. ITS, for instance, powers down 934 computers in its computer labs and general assignment classrooms between 12 and 6 a.m. daily. At a rate of $.07 per kWh, this saves the university an estimated $13,777 each year and has the same impact on the environment as planting 10,578 trees or taking 24 cars off the road each year.

And beginning last December, as a result of staff suggestions for reducing expenses, UI Hospitals and Clinics began designing and implementing a method for turning off select computers overnight and powering them on automatically in the morning. The initial phase of the project will affect outpatient clinic areas only, and users who need to use their computers beyond the designated off-times will have the option of manually canceling the shutdown.

"Estimates show that if 7,000 of the 14,000 supported computers are powered off at night and on weekends, we will save almost 4 million kWh per year," said Lee Carmen, director of health care information systems for the UI Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Power Down for the Planet is a collaboration between the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (an international nonprofit organization committed to reducing IT-related waste by half by 2010) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program. The UI is a founding partner of the initiative, along with Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, the University of California at San Diego and the University of Michigan.

The campaign's primary objective is to encourage campuses to win pledges from students, faculty and staff who agree to use their computer power management tools whenever possible and to look for energy efficient equipment when making purchases. At the end of the campaign, the university with the highest percentage of pledges will be announced the winner on Earth Day, which is April 22 this year.

For more information about Power Down for the Planet visit

Power Down for the Planet is just one piece of a larger effort to deploy energy conservation measures across campus in order to meet goals set forth in the UI Energy Conservation and Management Strategic Plan. Among the plan's goals is a 10 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2013. Mason has challenged university officials to meet that goal by 2010. For more information on the plan and other UI energy conservation efforts visit:

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Lynnette Racevskis, ITS, 319-335-5536; Stephen Pradarelli, University News Services, 319-384-0007,