Monday: ‘Computer says…ok’

Monday, what a great day to start the week with the thought of turning off your computer for one whole hour! No emails, no pop ups- bliss. However the Environment Wales team, hard working as we are, took the opportunity to undertake tasks that did not require a computer. Each day we spend  time away from our computer whether it be assessing or filing or making phone calls. We wanted to see whether we could therefore reduce energy use if we consolidated all these tasks in a set period, whilst our PCs were turned off and ther this reduced usage would affect our carbon emissions. We pride ourselves on being very efficient in our office in terms of the way we work and attitude towards energy use, so e.g. we don’t turn the lights on until it gets dark. Sometimes we go a whole day without turning it on. Our printer is only switched on when in use. In fact here is an example from the Tufts University1 website about what a sustainable office looks like. Our office meets most of the criteria:

  • Reduced energy and emissions
  • Using natural light to decrease need for overhead lighting
  • Updated equipment/technology  that saves energy
  • Using public transport or carpooling to work
  • Unplugging electronics when not in use

So, at 2pm we turned off our computers, had our team meeting and undertook practical work in the office. At 3pm we turned on our computers and got set to the exciting task of measuring how much CO2 we saved! But.. you wouldn’t have thought that would be the hard bit. It took a while to first find out the amount of power we used and then to convert that into the right unit to then convert it to show how much we reduced our emissions. Phew! With helpful core partner colleagues on hand in the form of Melanie Jones, ICT Advisor from WCVA and Steve Woosey, Centre manager of Eco Centre Wales, we finally got there!


Tricky bit: Calculations

  • 7 hour day with the computer switched on (including monitor)

1 team member’s computer on average generates 0.413 kWh the daily emission of CO2 for this computer equates to 208.15 (2dp) grams. (0.413 x 504)*

  • How does this compare to a 6 hour day?

1 team member’s computer generated 0.354 kWh, the daily emission of CO2 for this computer equates to 178.42 (2dp) grams. (0.354 x 504)*

A difference of 29.73grams. Which may not seem a lot but if you work it out over a year (29.73 grams x 52 weeks) that is a reduction in emissions by 1.5kilograms*. If this is multiplied by the members of the admin team then this is a reduction of 4.6 kilograms per year. This may seem quite low when performed in isolation but the point is to make small differences to areas of our lives that will make a big difference in the end! And this is just for one day a week. There would be more savings if people could do this every day.

Source: 1Tufts University (accessed 13.03.12)

* 504grams of CO2 per kWh used

**Assuming that the team undertake this activity once a week.


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