Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

Blog archive

Power IT Down Day: A major success, but could be bigger

The organizers of Power IT Down Day, a yearly event that tries to convince government workers and agencies to do more to save energy, obviously need to get more ambitious.

They set a fairly conservative goal of 6,100 participants -- a 10 percent over 2009 -- but instead ended up with 17,639. The Wounded Warrior Project, which gets a contribution proportional to the size of the participation, will be banking a $60,000 check.

That’s about as successful as it gets for this kind of project, whose aim is to educate government about the money that can be saved just by turning off PCs and other computing devices when they are not being used. It seems that, despite the various mandates for agencies to reduce their energy use, substantial prodding is needed.

Tom Simmons, area vice president for the US public sector at Citrix Systems, one of the event’s sponsors, said that compared to three years ago when the event started, government overall is now much more aware of how much money it spends on powering electronic devices. Coming budget cuts will no doubt help focus minds even more.

However, as he also pointed out, policies in many government organizations weigh against savings. Managers tell their people to keep PCs and other devices turned on at night to facilitate security and other updates. Comments to the original Quick Study post made the same point. So there’s still a lot of convincing that needs to happen.

Citrix and the other event sponsors -- Intel, Hewlett Packard and GTSI -- obviously did a great job in getting the word out this year. A good number of press outlets carried something about it, and inside government such agencies as the General Services Administration and the Health and Human Services Department stepped up to publicize the effort to their employees and others.

Given the response, momentum is obviously building. When pressed, Simmons said a participation of 25,000 or more would be reasonable. Feels a little wussy to me. As he said, this year’s total still came to less than 0.5 percent of the government PC user population. I would think at least 50,000 is a better target for 2011, wouldn’t you?

Posted on Sep 01, 2010 at 7:27 PM

Reader Comments

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 Ed Washington DC

I am happy for the wounded warriors and from that point this effort was a success, but i am disappointed from the IT user side. We heavily promoted this effort even though many of our IT folks were very reluctant. We were promised in emails that our agency could 'harvest' statistics for our participation so that we could use it in further promoting electronic stewardship. However, our contacts have not returned our follow up inquiries - yes over 17,000 participated but how does that translate to dollars, energy or air emissions saved? this is what we would like to tell out government staff. If you have contact info for PowerIT Down, please pass this information on to them. Much obliged, Ed

Fri, Sep 3, 2010

In the face of in-place policies to leave hardware running at night, this can't be done as a grassroots campaign. It has to be driven from the top, with a mandate to set up 'wake on LAN' capability as soon as possible, and to use it for scans and updated. The more desktop hardware advances, the more capabilities we seem to lose. With my previous machines, I could set the BIOS to boot up at 0400, and got all the pushes and updates with no problem. None of the current-generation equipment seems to have that capability.

Thu, Sep 2, 2010

Saving money and going green is a great idea, but it should also be balanced with allowing IT staff to complete updates/patches on workstations. Turning your PC off everyday may be "green" but it makes maintaining systems more difficult.

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