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Computers get a second shot

Posted: October 13, 2008 10:09 p.m.
Updated: December 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 
Many companies are practicing "green computing" by using power-saving devices and auto shutoff tools.

But the Saugus Union School District is taking the concept a step further.

The district embarked on a green computing initiative that will save money, increase student access to technology, and reduce the district's impact on the environment through computer re-use and server consolidation.

"We're doing a lot of re-use of older computers," said Jim Klein, the district's director of information services and technology.

"What it's allowing us to do is to get more technology into the kids' hands while helping the environment at the same time," he said.

Instead of taking old computers and dumping them in a landfill, the district is equipping those computers with new software and sending them to the schools to be used by students.

"The district recently saved $12,000 by building a computer lab with re-used machines," Klein said. "So one of our schools got a computer lab, and those 30 computers didn't end up in a landfill."

The district also accepts donations of unwanted computers.

Sixty donated computers that were four to six years old are now being used at one of the district's school sites, Klein said.

As the largest elementary school district - and one of the largest businesses - in the Santa Clarita Valley, the Saugus district serves around 11,000 students and employs nearly 2,000 people. Klein realized that the district's operations affected the valley's environment, and wanted to find a way to decrease the district's carbon footprint.

"If we get rid of 100 computers, they have to go somewhere, so if we can re-use them, we can save money and at the same time help the environment," he said.

The Saugus district was practicing green computing on a smaller scale before the Environmental Protection Agency released its Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator. Klein was able to plug some numbers into the calculator to determine exactly how much environmental and monetary savings could be gained from making some more changes.

"Some of the things we were doing to a smaller degree, but when we saw the numbers on that calculator, we decided to take a more active role," Klein said.

According to the Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator, re-using just one computer and monitor is roughly the equivalent of taking half of a car off the road and saving 68 percent of one U.S. household's allotment of electricity for a year.

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