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The Badger Herald

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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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More computer labs turning off computers

The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group released updated information Friday about the status of computer-lab energy usage on campus. The information is part of the Big Red Go Green! campaign to reduce energy usage on the UW-Madison campus by 7 percent by 2008.

Academic resources, computers, and housing coordinator Michael Crawford attended the conference to outline the changes that have been made in residence-hall computer labs.

“Basically, the biggest change we made was that now all computers go into sleep mode,” Crawford said. “[Director of Housing] Paul Evans has been pretty adamant about using less energy.”

Crawford said the amount of energy used in computer labs translated into higher energy costs and that these costs are eventually paid for by students.

According to the information presented, several changes have been made in computer labs across campus.

The ARCH computer labs now use sleep mode on computers, and the Math Information Lab turns its computers off at night. The Steenbock Library computer lab uses sleep mode for computers not in use and turns them off at night.

At the conference, WisPIRG media coordinator Katie Weber demonstrated the energy saved by measuring the energy output on her laptop computer. While the laptop was in use, the computer used 57 watts of energy, but when put into sleep mode, the computer only used 27 watts.

Currently, the Big Red Go Green! campaign is working with the computer lab in College Library to find a way to curb energy usage. Due to its large size, this computer lab is more of a concern for the campaign than the smaller labs.

According to the report, the library has changed to allow its Macintosh computers to go into sleep mode and has plans to change the PCs by fall. Although the computers are only turned off at night on weekends, lab manager Dave Luke said they are exploring possible options that will allow the computers to be turned off at night during the week, as well. However, Luke said, it was difficult to find a solution that everyone would be happy with.

“I’ve met with [WisPIRG representatives]” Luke said, “They have given me ideas on what to do to save energy. But [turning the computers off every night] is just not something we can do without changing other support issues that we have in place right now. It’s not that we don’t want to do it; it’s that we need to have the machines do some maintenance work overnight.”

Luke explained that the computers are “rebuilt” at night. He said since each machine takes approximately half an hour to 45 minutes to rebuild, it would be cost-prohibitive to have staff solely for the purpose of turning computers on and off throughout the night. Luke also said that not allowing the computers to rebuild led to a risk of technical problems in the computers.

“It’s not as simple an issue as it might appear,” Luke said. “My main concern right now is to keep a maximum number of computers running so students can get their work done.”

However, Luke remains hopeful that a solution will be found in the near future.

“I feel [we] have a good relationship with WisPIRG,” Luke said. “They always give us ideas for things we can do and they always understand when we tell them why we can’t do something.”

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