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Green Survey

Higher Ed Least Likely Sector To Adopt Energy Management Policies

Information technology leaders in colleges and universities are more concerned about environmental issues than their counterparts in every other sector--corporate, state/local, federal, and higher education. But they are also least likely to have formal policies in place for addressing energy efficiency, according to a new survey released Monday by CDW Government (CDW-G).

The Higher Education IT Energy Efficiency Picture
According to the report, dubbed the "Energy Efficient IT Report" (E2IT), 65 percent of higher education IT pros said they support environmental initiatives versus and average of 54 percent in all other sectors combined. They're also more likely than others (56 percent versus 46 percent) to work with top executives "who are concerned with environmental sustainability."

However, according to the survey, they are also the least likely to have a formal, institution-wide policy in place governing purchasing decisions that impact energy use and are also least likely to have "enforced programs" to manage energy consumption. Forty-nine percent of higher education respondents said they did not have a formal policy in place versus an average of 33 percent across all other sectors. And only 31 percent reported having "enforced programs" for energy consumption in place versus 43 percent across other sectors.

E2IT was based on a survey of 778 information technology professionals in both public and private sectors. Those surveyed were responsible for equipment purchases for their organizations. One hundred sixty-nine of these worked in the higher education sector.

"... [T]he E2IT Report detects high levels of support for energy efficiency among IT executives, but E2IT also finds serious deficits in the information needed to address it effectively," said CDW Vice President Mark Gambill in a statement released to coincide with the survey findings. "There are tools to help, but the range of available options may be daunting for organizations that lack resources to tackle the challenge."

The report provided several recommendations for improving the energy situation in colleges and universities.

These included:

  • Senior management capitalizing on internal support for energy efficiency initiatives;
  • Implementing institution-wide policies on energy consumption;
  • Assigning responsibility for energy management to employees;
  • Measuring power consumption in the IT department to provide initial data for energy initiatives; and
  • Involving students, faculty, and staff in environmental initiatives.

Other findings in the higher education sector include:

  • Only 49 percent of higher education institutions assign someone within the IT department the responsibility for energy costs in the IT operation versus 59 percent in other sectors;
  • Only 31 percent of higher ed IT executives indicated that energy efficiency is an important factor when purchasing end-user equipment (desktops, etc.);
  • Energy efficiency is a more significant consideration in the purchase of data center equipment (36 percent);
  • 49 percent indicated that the IT department "receives reports, authorizes payments, or otherwise has responsibility for the amount and cost of energy used in the organization's IT operations" (versus an average of 57 percent across all sectors); and
  • A full 79 percent said that the inability to measure energy usage in the IT department is a significant barrier to improving energy efficiency.

Cross-sector Findings
Taking all sectors into account, 94 percent of IT professionals said their organizations are "taking steps to manage IT energy consumption and energy costs." But only 34 percent cited energy efficiency as an important consideration when purchasing new equipment. The top priorities in purchasing new equipment in higher ed, as cited by survey respondents, were durability and ease of use.

Of those IT departments with responsibility for IT energy costs (which accounts for 57 percent of all IT departments), 88 percent are involved in developing strategies for managing energy consumption. In IT departments that do not have this responsibility, only 38 percent are involved in developing energy efficiency strategies. Of those with energy management strategies in place, 90 percent reported seeing favorable results, and 39 percent reported energy savings of 1 percent or more. (Some indicated that while they have not reduced their energy costs since implementing a strategy owing to rising energy costs, they'd be worse off with no strategy at all.)

Among those organizations that have reduced energy costs by 1 percent or more, there seems to be no single way in which IT staffs are helping to lower consumption.

Fig. 2 below shows the mix of techniques employed by these organizations.

Some of the barriers to achieving energy efficiency across all sectors include:

  • While 31 percent of those surveyed say they purchase Energy Star 4.0-rated equipment, a full 62 percent indicated that they do not take full advantage of those devices' energy management features; and
  • While 32 percent purchase energy-efficient/load-shedding uninterruptible power supplies, 52 percent said they do not use the software that comes with those devices to monitor energy demand and use.

There is a margin of error of ±3.49 percent on data spanning all sectors. There's a margin of error of ±8 percent on single-sector data in the study. A complete copy of the Energy Efficient IT Report, as well as further information about the demographics and methodology of the survey, can be found here.

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