The Greening of IT

As an information technology professional, I have been attempting to find different ways to save energy. At my full time job, I manage a center with over 575 computers. That is quite a lot of power. Originally, we had some PCs that were about five years old (from 2003) with the big CRT monitors. In the past few months, I have fully updated all of the computers from those old clunkers to new ones with flat panels. I used a load cord to see how much power they pulled – and together they pull about 94 watts of power even when just first starting up. That is quite a difference from the old CRT and PCs where the CRT by itself pulled that, and the computer pulled up to 120 watts – which fluctuated.

So what other way could you save energy with IT? Well, turn the computers off, of course. At any given point, there may only be 400 of the 575 computers used during the day employee shifts. However, each employee has their own space so all 575 computers are actually used at different points of the day. I found a freeware program online that does exactly what I wanted it to – shut the PCs off after a certain period of idle time. As an example, I have set the program to automatically shut off the computer after a period of an hour of non-use.

So 575 computers on 24 hours a day would consume 1,297 kilowatts per day. Wow, that is a little less than what we use at our house on a monthly basis! Now, lets take an average of 400 computers on for 10 hours a day (8 hour shift plus an hour afterwards for the shutdown to occur). This drops usage down to 375 kilowatts per day. What a huge difference that makes. That is a 71% savings on electric usage from the computers alone in the building.

Could you imagine how much that would save a company on a yearly basis? Lets just say that a kilowatt is 10 cents with all taxes and everything included. Each day, it would cost $129.70 with all computers staying on 24 hours a day. That is $47,340.50 a year just in energy costs for running computers. Now, running an average of 400 computers at only 10 hours a day, it would cost $37.50 a day for energy, or $13,687.50 a year. While this isn't much money to a company, that sure does pay for an employee's salary for a year!

Grape Arbor & Granny Smith Apple Tree

Since I last posted, I gave instructions on how to create a small grape arbor. Since then, I decided to completely change the arbor. The top of the arbor was four-foot by eight-foot. I expanded it to 8-foot by 12-foot instead so I could put in four different varieties of grapes so they would ripen all at different times.

For the new arbor, it requires four 12-foot 1×4 treated pieces of wood and 14 8-foot 2×2 treated pieces of wood. The 2×2’s were spread 10-inches apart from one another amongst the 12-foot area available. From both sides of the 12-foot boards, the first 2×2 on each side was put six-inches in – again to have a little bit of a decorative effect.

I re-used some of the old 2×2 pieces of wood and put horizontal pieces across the two sides of the arbor – that way I can also grow a grape cane from each vine on the pieces.

You may also see in the picture below that there are horizontal pieces all the way around the perimeter at the top. This is to hold the bird netting up above the arbor area so that when the vines reach the top, they will not tangle in with the bird netting. I just actually completed all the bird netting today. I purchased a 7-foot by 100-foot piece of bird netting at the local Menards store for $14.95. I saw others online for more than twice that for not even half of the size. I just hope it lasts a while because I put over 10 hours in with putting the bird netting in. Along the sides, I also had to “weave” some string through the places where the seams of the bird netting are. Otherwise, with the wind, it would create a gap and the birds could fly right in. You can see the small white pieces on the picture below too.

Lastly, I worked a few weeks ago at excavating the grass below the arbor and putting in pavers to complete the nice landscape look. I really hope the grapes pay off in the long run because there are several weekends of work in this between putting the arbor up, putting in the patio pavers, and putting up the bird netting.

Along with the grape vines, we also purchased a Granny Smith apple tree from an online orchard as well. I put the grapes and the Granny Smith apple tree in last weekend. All together, we now have a Concord Seedless grape vine, Flame Bunch Seedless grape vine, Niagara grape vine, and a Crimson Seedless grape vine in addition to the Granny Smith apple tree. These were all purchased online through Willis Orchards

The only other thing left that we may do is try some of these columnar apple trees. These columnar apple trees are kind of neat because they can grow 10 – 12 feet tall and you can really increase the space where these are put. Unfortunately, there is not enough space in the front yard now to put another semi-dwarf apple tree, but we are thinking about buying a North Pole columnar apple tree and a Golden Sentinal columnar apple tree to put on either side of the grape arbor. The columnar apple trees have been said to begin producing apples after two or three years and once they are fully mature, they will give about two dozen apples each.