Information Technology

The computers, servers, printers, copiers, and other electronics managed by the information technology (IT) staff are significant contributors to a typical office’s energy use, representing 20% of a typical large office’s electricity consumption. The possible actions discussed in this section relate only to the energy- saving green IT actions; other actions related to IT that save paper or reduce unnecessary transportation are listed in their respective sections (Resource Efficiency and Travel & Transportation).

The Alliance created a matrix to help you assess the cost effectiveness of each of the following strategies by comparing the level of operational investment to potential environmental impact.

Periodic Action  Property Manager Involvement
Habitual Action  Lower-Impact
Policy-Driven  Higher-Impact


Install and Enable Power Management Software on PCs

Most computers (and all ENERGY STAR labeled computers) include power management software that enables the computer to automatically move into a power-saving mode after a certain length of inactivity, but only an estimated 8% of office workers have actually enabled these settings. Power management features can save up to 50% of a typical computer’s energy use, equating to approximately $41 in annual energy cost savings per desktop PC or $12 annually for a laptop (for a typical California office). Many people still incorrectly believe that the screensaver saves energy, but the computer needs to actually shut off power to the monitor to save any energy, and some computers have hibernation modes that save even more energy. Enabling the power managment settings is easy, but employees need to be reminded to do so, and some may need guidance on how to do it. IT should enable power management settings on new computers before they are given to employees.

ENERGY STAR offers a free program called EZ Wizard that quickly and automatically enables power management features on a computer and monitor.

Calculate how much energy and money your company can save by enabling power management settings with ENERGY STAR’s calculator (this link will download an Excel spreadsheet).

Encourage Employees to Shut down Computers and Monitors at Night and on Weekends

An estimated 64% of office workers leave their computers on at all times even though the average worker only works 40 out of a total of 168 hours each week. In most circumstances, there is no good reason why a desktop computer should remain on, consuming electricity for the 128 hours each week that the employee is out of the office. Offices could sponsor a friendly competition between departments by tracking the percentage of computers that are powered off at 8am on Monday mornings (perhaps for 6-8 weeks) and rewarding the department with the highest percentage with a small reward or a special lunch.

Use Software to Turn Off Equipment Remotely

For a modest investment, software can be installed on a network to remotely turn off all computers and other equipment connected to the network.

Switch from Desktop PCs to Laptops

Conventional (non-ENERGY STAR) laptop computers use 69% less energy than desktop PCs. A switch from a conventional desktop PC to an ENERGY STAR laptop saves 78% in energy consumption, or $30 per computer per year in energy costs for a typical California office.

Purchase ENERGY STAR Computers, Servers, and Copiers

ENERGY STAR labeled desktop PCs and laptops use ~33% less energy than non-ENERGY STAR models under typical operating conditions. To calculate how much energy your office can save from switching to ENERGY STAR office electronics, click here (this link will download an Excel spreadsheet).

Replace CRT Monitors with Flat Screen Monitors

If your office still has old fashioned CRT monitors, replace them with flat screen LCD displays (ideally ENERGY STAR labeled ones). LCD displays draw one-third less power than CRT screens when in use, and ENERGY STAR labeled LCD displays use much less power when in “idle” or “sleep” mode.

Select 80 PLUS Power Supplies for Desktop PCs and Servers

When purchasing desktop PCs and small servers, look for 80 PLUS certified power supplies, which are far more efficient and more reliable than standard power supplies. (ENERGY STAR labeled desktop PCs all have 80 PLUS Bronze power supplies or better). Aim for 80 PLUS Silver or Gold for desktop PCs and 80 PLUS Gold or Platinum for small servers. If you have a server that you expect to use for several more years, consider replacing the power supply with an 80 PLUS Gold or Platinum power supply.

Consolidate Printers

Most employees do not need an individual printer in their workspace. These rarely used printers consumer standby power all day long. It’s much more efficient to have one large capacity, energy- efficient printer/copier per department or per floor.

Use Desktop Virtualization and Thin Clients

Virtualization of both desktops and servers has the potential to shift computer usage patterns and offer significant energy and cost savings. Thin clients are low-power computers that don’t actually have any computing power; they are just displays and keyboards that rely on a central server’s processors and memory.

Install Smart Power Strips

Smart power strips sense whether or not a critical piece of equipment such as a computer is turned on, and automatically powers off other peripheral equipment such as the monitor and printer when the computer is turned off.

Encourage the Use of Smart Chargers for Cell Phones

If employees are regularly charging their cell phones at the office, purchase or encourage employees to purchase smart chargers which do not draw power when the phone isn’t plugged in, eliminating wasteful standby consumption. AT&T currently offers the ZERO charger for many of its most popular phones, including iPhone, many BlackBerry models, and others.         

Turn Off Printers and Copiers during Off-Hours

Many printers, copiers, and all-in-ones have energy saving features that put the machine into sleep mode or turn it off entirely during scheduled off-hours.


Most of the major computer manufacturers have energy-efficient options and resources on green IT, virtualization, cloud computing, etc.