Green computing - the way of the future

Innovation was at the forefront when it came to planning the technology needs for Markin Hall.

"What we did in this building is a pilot project for green computing that could be expanded to labs and offices on all three of the University's campuses," says Trevor Butler, manager, Management Technical Services.

Green computing refers to environmentally sustainable computing, which involves using the most economical and energy-efficient technology possible to reduce the environmental impact.

"The Centre for Financial Market Research and Teaching (CFMRT) provided a perfect opportunity for us to do things differently," says Butler. "Currently, 42 of a possible 48 work stations in the CFMRT have a thin

Markin Hall was built with energy-efficient technology.
client with dual monitors, which is connected to an extremely robust central server, the brains of the system. The central server hosts all the software, runs all the programs and stores all the data, which is much more efficient than using individual computers."

Thin clients are low-end computer terminals that concentrate solely on providing a visual interface between the user and the server. This system provides an enormous potential for energy savings.

"A desktop computer, such as those found in labs and faculty or staff offices across campus, uses about 150 to 200 watts of power while in use. A thin client uses an average of 13.5 watts of power when in use and less than one watt when not in use. You can clearly see the massive financial and energy savings they provide."

There are also considerable financial savings with thin clients, which cost about $400 each and have an estimated lifespan of 10 years.

"They are incredibly economical to buy and maintain," Butler says.

Usability is also improved as applications are delivered across an Internet browser.

"Users appreciate the speed of the system," Butler says, "and can have a customized profile that provides them with only the programs they want. This makes the system easy to navigate and use."

Perhaps the most radical advantage with this system is that data can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

"Students on all three of our campuses or someone sitting at a computer in India could all have access to the same information," says Butler. "Currently, students on the Edmonton and Calgary campuses have access, but we have not implemented the remote access functionality yet. However, once implemented, that remote access would open our CFMRT and programs to the world. Who knows where that could lead in the future."