Green glory-- UofM Law School IT department earns sustainability award

Ann Arbor, MI--Ongoing environmental efforts in the information technology department at Michigan Law recently garnered the unit a Gold Level Green IT Achievement award from U-M's Climate Savers Computing Initiative - an occasion marked, as one might expect, with the planting of a tree on the Diag.

The award recognizes the Law School's "extremely high level of commitment to environmental stewardship and IT resource conservation" and is based on CSCI's evaluation of the environmental friendliness of the Law School's IT policies and practices. Members of the IT department, led by manager Rosa Peters and IT staffers Kurt Kaiser and Daniella Williams, have been working for several years to minimize the environmental impact of Law School computing.

Some measures are simple, like supplying smart power strips that shut off when users aren't at their desks. Other measures are more complex, like figuring eliminating 34 law school servers and the room that housed them, or figuring out how best to apply software patches without having employees leave their computers turned on overnight.

Other Law School measures recognized by evaluators included training faculty and staff in simple ways to reduce energy use, buying energy-efficient computers and monitors in the first place, and setting them up with energy savings in mind. Proper recycling of batteries and dead electronic gear was also a requirement.

The Law School also tries to avoid issuing individual users their own printers, uses recycled paper for printing, and further minimizes paper waste by setting up two-sided printing when possible.

With the Law School now boasting nearly 600 workstations for students, more than 100 faculty and nearly twice that many staffers, the savings - in sustainability, and in dollars - is significant, Peters said.

"We'll always continue looking for new ways to save energy and minimize our impact on the environment," Peters said. "We've already worked hard to make a difference, and we're very excited that our sustainability efforts have been recognized by the university."

Published: Thu, Jun 17, 2010