Is your IT Equipment wasting energy and money?

Is your IT Equipment wasting energy and money?

Sent Monday, May 24, 2010


Welcome to the Green Guide, the monthly newsletter published by

Greener Museums. I’ve just finished up a hectic two days at the

Museums and Heritage Show in London. Greener Museums hosted the

Designing Greener Exhibitions Theater, curating 2 days of seminars

and talks for event attendees. I was excited to be able to share

some of the work I’ve been doing. In fact, pictured above are Kate

Parsons, Head of Collection Care, Tate and me, after giving our

joint presentation on a carbon footprinting exercise that Greener

Museums completed for Tate. We’ll be able to offer you access to

these seminars, just keep your eyes peeled for that e-mail to

arrive in your inbox.

To your greener future,

Rachel Madan, Director of Greener Museums

Here’s what’s in this issue:

*Feature Article: Understanding and Implementing Green IT

*Upcoming Events

*About Rachel Madan

Best wishes,

Rachel Madan

Understanding and Implementing Green IT

Greener Museums – Image 1Information Technology (IT) equipment

affects the environment through its manufacture, use and disposal.

A study published by the United Nations University in 2004 showed

that the construction of one desktop PC requires resources, such as

water, metals and chemicals, weighing 1.8 tonnes – the weight of a

rhinoceros. IT is estimated to be responsible for approximately

two percent of global carbon emissions According to Waste Watch

(, some two million PCs are sent to landfills

every year. Greening your IT can help to avoid these harmful

effects by encouraging the purchase of equipment that:

* Is sustainably produced

* Has a longer life expectancy

* Wastes less energy

* Is used efficiently

* Can be disposed of responsibly

Using green IT can cut costs, enhance your organisation’s image and

help you comply with legal requirements and stipulations attached

to funding. And the benefits of green IT go even further, by

lessening other environmental impacts. The process of

‘dematerialisation’ involves swapping physical processes for

virtual ones; a good everyday example of this is in music sales,

which increasingly involve electronic formats such as MP3 in place

of traditional physical media. Computer files require no packaging

or transportation, and use very little physical storage.

Dematerialisation can be particularly useful in an office

environment, where it facilitates the shift from business travel to

web-conferencing and working from home, provides a paperless way of

distributing information and, for museums, provides the opportunity

for virtual tours so that additional ‘visitors’ around the world

can experience exhibits.

Getting Started: Implement a green IT Action Plan in your


Without an overarching strategy, and with only piecemeal

initiatives, it can be difficult to implement significant changes

within IT. A comprehensive Action Plan provides your museum with

specific goals and a roadmap to their achievement. The Action Plan

also acts as a reference for employees, management and, when

relevant, visitors.

Before you can draft your Action Plan, of course, you will need to

figure out where you are starting from. A useful first step is to

undertake an IT audit to measure your IT footprint. This can be

done by counting your Information and Communications Technology

devices and noting their energy consumption and usage. The process

of auditing your IT will help you to see where savings can be made

and where investment will be needed in the future.

Once an audit has been undertaken, it is useful to draw up a list

of priorities. Many low-cost/low-effort policies can be

implemented more-or-less immediately and can make a significant

difference. These include procedures which target staff behaviour,

such as switching off computers and monitors at night. For each

computer which is switched off after hours, you save around £30 to

£70 a year. Procurement policies can prioritise the energy

efficiency of replacement equipment by promoting consideration of

whole-life running costs as well as initial purchase prices. Energy

Star (, and EPEAT

( provide ratings and guidance for purchasing more

environmentally friendly equipment.

Upcoming Events: Your chance to meet me in person!

Greener Museums – Image 1Museums, Sustainability and Growth: Life

Worth Living, 8th – 9th July 2010 Norwich Castle Museum & Art


I’ll be giving a keynote address at this conference examining the

unique contribution museums and heritage organisations can make to

the development of sustainable communities Lord Smith of Finsbury

(Christopher), had this to say at the 2008 conference:

“The most powerful role that museums can play in the sustainability

agenda is that they can show us how we can learn from the past in

order to live with the future.” The successful 2008 Conference

explored the opportunities for heritage organisations to help

deliver the sustainability and planned growth agendas. The 2010

conference will examine ways in which museums can practically

engage with such issues. Visit the Museums, Sustainability and

Growth Conference 2010

Social History Curators Group Annual Conference: More for Less: Big

Impacts with Small Resources, 8 – 10 July 2010, Birmingham

Whatever the size of your museum, and whatever the challenges you

face, there will be something to inspire, encourage and reassure

you at this conference. I’ll be speaking on the subject of how even

a small environmental budget can be used to large effect. I’ll be

joining speakers from the Thackray Museum, the National Waterfront

Museum, the Ryedale Folk Museum, and the London Transport Museum.

Hope to see you there! Learn about the SHCG Conference 2010