The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recently began requiring that government computers not engaged in mission-critical activities be turned off when not in use. While this might not seem like a big deal, a lot of us leave our desktops on, whether for instant access in the morning, sharing devices, running jobs overnight, or simply because we don't think about it.
According to a recent Boston Globe article,
The new policy is expected to cut carbon emissions by an amount equal to driving 925 cars or providing electricity to 669 homes for one year.
Nationally, office equipment accounts for up to 10 percent of electricity use in commercial buildings, said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles.
He said shutting the equipment off when they're not used could reduce their energy drain by 95 percent. And he said the state could save even more if state colleges and universities and nonexecutive branch agencies joined in.
The policy also bans screensavers and requires that power management features be enabled. Perhaps more than anywhere else in the Commonwealth (or anywhere for that matter), this policy makes sense in schools where teachers and students are necessarily away from their computers during lecture, lunch, recess, etc. The Massachusetts policy doesn't currently apply to schools and universities, but there's no good reason not to implement a similar policy voluntarily, regardless of where we are.
Just applying the rules to 32,000 state computers will save upwards of "$2 million a year and reduce carbon emissions by more than 5,000 tons annually." Seems like a no-brainer in schools where we should be instilling a sense of conservation in our students.