10 steps for greening an IT department

The data center gets all the press, but there are plenty of other areas where IT professionals and users of IT services can dramatically reduce an organization's effect on the environment. Here are 10 ways to get started:

1. Reduce the amount of data kept in online storage. Online disks spin around the clock, and they need to be cooled. Disks may be full of multiple data copies or ancient files that are rarely opened. Archive historical files to off-line media for storage in the data center.

2. Consolidate IT assets into a single location for shared use. Eliminate private parts and spare equipment caches in favor of a single pool of shared assets. Look here before buying anything else to save money and reduce the amount of electronic equipment that will eventually require disposal.

3. Make use of power-saving features. Ensure that all hardware you install has the power-saver function enabled and that users are locked out of changing it.

4. Buy power-efficient and environment-friendly equipment. Require that all new equipment is compliant with Energy Star and the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and has an 80Plus power supply. 80Plus power supplies are at least 80% efficient and thereby save electricity. RoHS certification ensures that electronic components contain minimal levels of toxic substances.

5. Use less paper. You save not only the cost of the paper, but also the cost of toner and disposal. Review reports online, and print only the pages you need. Send electronic documents for discussion to each meeting attendee, and require them to print their own copies if they attend. Where practical, order manuals on CD for online access.

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