It is common for people to use the terms "green" and "sustainable" interchangeably. While the terms are definitely related and have a type of hierarchal relationship, the terms are not interchangeable.
University Information Technology (UIT), in association with University Advancement, has launched a sustainability program with a goal of better usage of resources through the adoption of green and sustainable practices. To better understand how UIT is going green and moving toward sustainability, we tend to use the phrase "Act locally, think globally" as a framework, with green and sustainability each representing a different aspect of the phrase.
Going green can be thought of as "acting locally" and reflects what we, both individually and collectively, can do right now. Two of the most important green options we can do is make sure power management software is used with our desktop computers and that our computers and peripherals are not left on needlessly.
The immediate benefits are that we reduce both the size (cost) of the electric bill, and the waste of finite resources. If the University can spend less on electricity, it can then allocate the savings to other needs.
Because computers will be running less, workspace locations will be easier to keep cool, reducing our air conditioning usage and electricity demand (saving even more money for UH).
Where going green is local, sustainability is "acting globally". Referencing the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development report in 1987 (The "Brundtland Report"), sustainability should be thought of as our ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations' abilities to meet their own.
Sixty percent of the electricity generated in the United States is by coal-fired electric plants. It takes approximately a half-ton of coal to power the average desktop computer over the course of a year. Reducing the amount of electricity we use now:
- Reduces the amount of coal needing to be mined
- Reduces the amount of coal used in coal-fired electric plants
- Reduces associated environmental impact
- Betters our stewardship of a finite resource
Management of the power consumption of desktop computers is just one area where we can create positive change. UIT at the University of Houston is committed to helping University students, staff and faculty engage in green practices, allowing the University to move forward, to "act locally, think globally".