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									Environmental Impact of Computer Information
     Technology in an Institutional Setting:
    A Case Study at the University of Guelph

 Melanie Adamson, Robert Hamilton, Kathryn Hutchison, Kaitlin
Kazmierowski, Joming Lau, Deigh Madejski, and Nicole MacDonald

                     University of Guelph

                          April 2005


Computer use at the University of Guelph is an important aspect of campus life, however, its

environmental impacts are often not realized or considered. These impacts are expressed

throughout the manufacturing, use and disposal of on-campus computers, and thus require

monitoring and an understanding of each stage of a computer’s lifecycle. The computers located

in the various laboratories, libraries and faculty/graduate student offices at the University of

Guelph consume various quantities of energy, but as a whole are not operating at optimal

efficiency. In addition, the disposal of on-campus computers does not occur in the most

environmentally sound manner possible, thus resulting in various departments either diverting

unwanted units to landfills or storing them for extended periods of time. Both the inefficient use

of energy and the manufacturing and disposal of computer systems leads to the generation and

release of toxic compounds into the environment. This report identifies the need for the

implementation of campus-wide green procurement strategies with respect to computer

acquisition, use and disposal, and offers recommendations regarding improvements of the

University of Guelph’s current systems. The implementation of these recommendations will aid

the University in serving as an example for other institutions, saving money in the long run, and

decreasing its overall environmental impacts.


We would like to thank the following people for their support and aid during the completion of

this project: Dr. Joseph Ackerman, Avin Duggal, Gillian Maurice, David Fallow, Leon Loo,

Shelley Dano and the IT managers that responded to our survey. We would also like to thank the

Faculty of Environmental Science at the University of Guelph for their financial support.

Table of Contents
Abstract                                                            2

Acknowledgements                                                    3

1.0 Introduction                                                    7

2.0 Background                                                      13
       2.1 Computers and Associated Environmental Problems          13
              2.1.1 Energy Consumption                              14
              2.1.2 Physical Components and Toxins                  14
              2.1.3 Computer Manufacturing                          17
              2.1.4 Social and Political Implications               20
       2.2 Green Procurement                                        21
              2.2.1 The Acquisition of Green Computers              23
              2.2.2 Power saving Techniques and Ecolabeling         24
              2.2.3 End of Life Management                          26
       2.3 Case Study: Green Procurement Guidelines for the         31
              University of Manitoba

3.0 Materials and Methods                                           33
       3.1 Survey Design                                            33
               3.1.1 Quantifying Computer Energy Use in Libraries   33
                       and Laboratories
               3.1.2 Quantifying Computer Energy Use by Faculty     34
                       and Graduate Students
       3.2 Statistical Analysis                                     37
               3.2.1 z-Test Analysis                                37
               3.2.2 S-Plus Analysis                                37
       3.3 Environmental Impacts and Green Procurement Strategies   38

4.0 Results                                                         39
       4.1 Statistical Results                                      39
               4.1.1 z-Test Statistical Results                     39
               4.1.2 S-Plus Statistical Results                     41
       4.2 Energy Consumption                                       43
               4.2.1 Faculty and Graduate Students                  44
               4.2.2 Computer Laboratories                          44
               4.2.3 Libraries                                      45

5.0 Discussion                                                      48
       5.1 Statistical Analysis                                     48
               5.1.1 Discussion for z-Test                          49

              5.1.2 Discussion for S-Plus                      50

       5.2 Energy Consumption                                  50
              5.2.1 Faculty and Graduate Students              50
              5.2.2 Computer Laboratories                      50
              5.2.3 Libraries                                  51
       5.3 Computer Equipment Purchasing Guidelines            51
       5.4 Computer Equipment Disposal Guidelines              53

6.0 Recommendations                                            56
       6.1 Purchasing Computer Equipment                       56
       6.2 Energy Saving Strategies                            57
              6.2.1 Computer Laboratories and Libraries        58
              6.2.2 Faculty and Graduate Students              59
       6.3 Computer Equipment Disposal Methods                 60

7.0 Conclusion                                                 64

References                                                     67

Appendix 1: Composition of a Personal Desktop Computer         71

Appendix 2: Ecolabeling Comparison                             73

Appendix 3: Electronics Recyclers Pledge of True Stewardship   76

Appendix 4: Computer and Electronics Recycling                 78

Appendix 5: Sampling Sites                                     80

Appendix 6: S-Plus Statistical Summaries for all Monitoring    81
      Times in Richards Building

Appendix 7: Energy Consumption Raw Data                        82

List of Figures
Figure 1: ENERGY STAR Symbol                                                 24

Figure 2: Popular ecolabels under the Global Ecolabeling Network             25

Figure 3: Current Energy Consumption                                         46

Figure 4: Current Energy Consumption per Computer                            47

Figure 5: Energy Savings for Conservation plans and New Computer             47

List of Tables
Table 1: Components of CRT panel and funnel glass                            15

Table 2: Basic steps in computer chip fabrication                            19

Table 3: Resource Use in production of various computer components           20

Table 4: University of Guelph's Current Energy Consumption in Comparison     45
          with the Worst-Case and Best-Case Scenarios

Table 5: Energy Consumption in University of Guelph Buildings                45

Table 6: Energy Consumption per Computer in University of Guelph Buildings   46

1.0 Introduction

Recently, topics such as global warming and climate change have drawn a lot of attention in the

media and general public. The production and use of various forms of energy is a large

contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change (BSD Global, 2002).

Institutions and organizations worldwide have begun to take measures to reduce energy

consumption and increase energy efficiency in an attempt to lessen their environmental impact.

Computers and office equipment play an increasingly large role in energy consumption. Desktop

computers, scanners and other electronic technology account for the fastest growing source of

energy consumption in Canada (NRCan, 2002). Although energy consumption is rising, there are

various methods that can be employed to increase energy efficiency. Many organizations and

institutions have implemented green procurement policies that promote the purchasing of energy

efficient products and the adoption of energy saving practices. These energy saving practices do

not reduce the performance of the computers, they simply reduce their power consumption when

not in use (Nordman et al., 1997). Most energy savings are derived from low power or 'sleep'

modes that occur when the computer is idle. Green procurement policies also require an

assessment of the environmental impacts of the products through all stages of its lifecycle

(cradle-to-cradle). An important element of this assessment is determining the end-of-life

disposal techniques available for various forms of office equipment, especially computer

monitors containing lead bearing cathode ray tubes (CRTs).

As the student population and computer usage increases at the University of Guelph, an

information technology (IT) strategy needs to be developed to address issues of energy

consumption by computers and the procurement and disposal of IT equipment. The University of

Guelph is facing a significant budget deficit (University of Guelph, 2005), and energy saving

techniques for computer technology could be applied to help reduce costs attributed to inefficient

energy practices. This project is especially significant due to the lack of similar studies at

educational institutions across Canada. As Canadian universities are becoming more dependent

on computer resources, they have the potential to save a significant amount of financial and

environmental wealth by using efficient and environmentally sound equipment.

Although general computer usage of computers at the University of Guelph is increasing, actual

values for energy consumption are unknown, as there currently is an unidentified number of

computers on campus that are left active for indeterminate lengths of time. The University of

Guelph has no large-scale energy conservation or cradle-to-cradle environmental efficiency

strategies. An appropriate strategy would include guidelines that integrate the acquisition of

energy efficient and environmentally responsible products, as well as environmentally sound

disposal methods for older computers and CRT monitors. While there is a abundance of

information regarding the recycling of older computer systems and CRT monitors, only a few

examples have been found regarding such strategies in the context of post secondary institutions.

This project aims to incorporate knowledge from previous case studies and implement strategies

with an on-campus perspective that consider the various demands associated with post secondary

institutions. Also, this project aims to provide the University of Guelph with recommendations to

reduce the energy consumption of on-campus computers, to purchase energy efficient computer

products, and to properly dispose of old computer equipment in an ecologically sound manner.

In order to achieve this goal, the objectives that we will address are as follows:

   1. Quantify, to the best of our ability, the approximate energy use in University of Guelph

       computer laboratories having greater than 20 computers, the libraries, and personal

       computers used by faculty and graduate students

   2. Compare current energy use to better-case scenarios according to the null hypotheses

   3. Investigate potential end-of-life disposal and recycling techniques as well as, options to

       dispose of toxic materials

   4. Research the purchasing potential of energy efficient and environmentally responsible

       computer equipment

   5. Explore energy conservation measures that reduce power consumption in computer

       laboratories and personal computers across campus

To achieve these objectives, this project was undertaken using several important assumptions.

Firstly, laptop computers available for student usage in the library were not taken into

consideration for our study. It was beyond the scope of this study to obtain an accurate estimate

of energy consumption, as much of the power requirements for laptops are met through battery

power. Personal computers in residence were also not included in our study as their energy

consumption varies year to year, and energy saving techniques would be difficult to implement.

Secondly, computer use varies at different times during any given semester, and throughout the

academic year. Student workloads and computer usage are subject to variability. This is an

important point to consider, as the results found in this study correspond with weeks nine and ten

of the winter semester and may not be representative of computer use at other times throughout

the academic year. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, all computers surveyed in this study

are assumed to follow the same ratio of new liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors to old CRT

monitors as identified in the MacLaughlin Library. Due to the constraints of this project, the

MacLaughlin Library was used as a sample to quantify the usage of energy efficient LCD

monitors throughout the University of Guelph campus. Other computer laboratories, faculty and

graduate students are also assumed to follow this pattern.

This study seeks to rank the University of Guelph’s current computer efficiency on a scale

between a ‘worst-case scenario’ and a ‘best-case scenario’. For the purpose of our study, we

have defined the worst-case scenario as all computer systems at the University of Guelph using

old CRT monitors, old central processing units (CPUs), not making use of power saving

strategies such as ‘sleep’ and ‘standby’ mode, and are active 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

This worst-case scenario also lacks of provisions for acquiring energy efficient products and for

environmentally sound disposal methods of computer equipment. We have defined the best-case

scenario as all computers on campus having LCD energy saving monitors, new CPUs being

ENERGY STAR certified, using energy saving techniques, and being active 8 hours per day, 5

days per week. ENERGY STAR certified technology allows computers to automatically switch

to standby mode when inactive for a certain amount of time, and thus allowing for energy

savings. The best-case scenario also includes provisions for acquiring energy efficient products

and disposing of computer equipment in an environmentally sound manner. By stating these

scenarios, this study is able to make comparisons between the University of Guelph’s current

computer energy consumption with the potential energy consumed within the best and worst-case

scenarios. The fundamental premise behind these comparisons is that the University of Guelph is

not running at optimal energy efficiency, and that through increased power management

techniques, the purchasing of energy efficient products and the usage of proper disposal

techniques, the University of Guelph can improve its current practices. Explicitly stated, our null

hypothesis is the following:

     The University of Guelph's current practices will be the same as the best-case

     scenario for energy consumption and cradle-to-cradle environmental efficiency.

This null hypothesis is the basis for this report; however, several other comparisons will be made,

with two sub-null hypotheses being identified:

1. Conservation plans alone cannot reduce the energy required to power computer usage at the

University of Guelph.

This sub-null hypothesis compares the worst-case scenario with a scenario using CRT monitors

and old CPUs, but utilizing energy saving techniques such as shutting the computers down at


2. New computer equipment alone cannot reduce the energy required to power computers at the

University of Guelph.

This sub-null hypothesis compares the worst-case scenario with a scenario where all computers

on campus use LCD monitors and Energy Star certified CPUs, but are left active for 24 hours a

day, 7 days a week.

The re-evaluation of the University of Guelph’s energy conservation strategies and computer

disposal methods is significant. Not only can it save the University money, but it will also

perpetuate its excellent reputation as an environmentally and ecologically conscientious

institution. Such measures will allow the University of Guelph to act as an example of an

institution demonstrating cost-effective green procurement strategies.

2.0 Background

While the environmental issues involved in computer manufacturing, use, and disposal employ

large quantities of fossil fuels and hazardous wastes, a new push towards the “greening” of the

various components of the computer industry provides hope and practical strategies for the


2.1 Computers and Associated Environmental Problems

The environmental problems associated with computers are two-fold. High energy consumption

and highly toxic component materials are currently inherent characteristics of computers, thus

making their production, use and disposal ecologically unsound (Lee et al., 2004).

Unfortunately, due to their sheer global quantities and current product life of roughly two years,

the problems associated with such characteristics become greatly enhanced at an alarming rate

(Brennan et al., 2002). Zhang and Forssberg (1999) projected that by 2005, roughly 150 million

personal computers (PCs) and workstations will be disposed in landfills in the US alone. By this

same year, Gungor and Gupta (1999) predicted that every family in the US will own a computer,

and given the aforementioned product life of these systems, it appears that computers are being

disposed of as quickly as they are being produced.

Unfortunately, disposal in landfills is only the first step in a dangerous sequence of events

involving the breakdown and leaching of computer material components. Examples include lead,

barium, chromium and other endocrine and central nervous system disruptors (Baul, 2002).

Aside from hazardous wastes, the production and use of computers consumes vast amounts of

energy, thus further depleting fossil fuel reserves and playing an increasingly significant role in

climate change and global warming (Gungor and Gupta, 1999).

2.1.1 Energy Consumption

Globally speaking, the issue of energy consumption is one that involves all sectors and industries.

According to Norfold (1990) and Kawamoto (2002), electronic office equipment such as desktop

computers use significant amounts of electric power. A typical CPU uses 120 Watts (W = 1

joule/second) of electricity, while a CRT monitor consumes an added 150 W (United States

Department of Energy, 2005). This implies that a standard office computer which is left on 8

hours per day, for 5 days a week can consume up to 561.6 kW of fossil fuel derived energy.

However, this figure more than triples if such a computer is left on throughout the night or during

the entire week.

2.1.2 Physical Components and Toxins

Desktop computers generally consist of three major units: the main processing machine (CPU

consisting of power supplier, fan, IC boards, DVD drive, CD drive, hard disk, soft disk and shell

casing), the monitor and the keyboard (Lee et al., 2004). However, as demonstrated in Appendix

1, these major units are composed of various materials, which, in turn consist of a wide range of

chemicals, elements and heavy metals. Some of these materials, such as platinum, have a high

recovery and recycling efficiency (95%), while others cannot be recycled at all (e.g. mercury,

arsenic and barium). There are, however, two desktop components that represent the largest

environmental hazards with respect to bioavailability, monitors containing CRTs and flame

retardant plastics (Lee et al., 2004).

Cathode Ray Tubes

Since the 1950s, CRTs have been used in television and computer screens. Historically, their

production has grown in step with computer demand (Williams, 2003). In 2001, the global CRT

monitor industry was valued at US $19.5 billion, producing 108 million units. This figure is

expected to fall due to the increasing popularity of LCD monitors (Williams, 2003).

The CRT of a typical monitor accounts for approximately 50% of the monitor’s weight, and

contains a veritable cocktail of elements (Table 1) of which lead is considered the most important

due to its high content (up to 20%) in the funnel glass component of a CRT (Lee et al., 2004).

Table 1: Components of CRT panel and funnel glass (reconstructed from Lee et al., 2004)

Type of Glass                    Major Elements (>5% wt)           Minor Elements (<5% wt)

Panel                            Silicon, oxygen, potassium,       Titanium, sodium, cesium,
                                 barium, and aluminium             lead, zinc, yttrium, and
Funnel                           Silicon, oxygen, iron, and        Potassium, sodium, barium,
                                 lead                              caesium, and carbon

In most basic terms, a CRT creates the visual image displayed by the monitor, by employing the

interaction between an electron tube and a phosphor coated screen (Anonymous, 2003). In order

to avoid radiation exposure to the viewer, the funnel glass of the CRT contains high

concentrations of lead-oxide (Lee et al., 2004). According to the US Environmental Protection

Agency’s (EPA) toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP), the lead found in funnel glass

is considered a hazardous waste because it far exceeds the TCLP threshold of 5 mg/L leached,

with values ranging from 10-20 mg/L leached per monitor (Lee et al., 2004). Williams (2003)

also found that CRT monitors exceeded TCLP limits for zinc leachate, thus classifying it as a

hazardous waste. The hazard truly occurs when monitors are permitted to weather in landfills,

releasing these toxic chemicals into soil, and subsequent water systems.

Lead is especially an issue in waste disposal because it becomes bioavailable in soils with

increasing pH, and becomes available to animals and humans through the food chain and soil

dust inhalation (Martinez-Villegas et al., 2004). Once in the body, it can attack proteins and

DNA (Bechara, 2004) as well as interfere with the functions of the central and peripheral nervous

systems (Needleman, 2004). At high enough doses, it can result in brain edema and haemorrhage

(Needleman, 2004).

Liquid Crystal Display

The global shipment of LCDs, also known as “Flat Screen” monitors, is projected to surpass that

of CRT monitors by 2007. In 2001, the global market for LCDs was valued at US $9 billion and

totalled 12 million units (Williams, 2003). While LCDs are preferred for their efficient use of

space, thus allowing more to be shipped at once, they also contain significant amounts of

mercury (4-12 mg/unit), which can be leached from improperly discarded systems. Mercury is

already a problematic substance in US landfills since in 2000, it was estimated that 172 tonnes

were accumulating in locations across the country (Williams, 2003). Additionally, the

production of an LCD monitor requires 266 kg of fossil fuels, a figure that surpasses that required

for the production of CRT monitors (Williams, 2003).

The liquid crystals within an LCD monitor are a mixture of polycyclic or halogenated aromatic

hydrocarbons, and contain 588 various compounds. However, of these, only 26 possess the

potential for acute toxicity in humans (Williams, 2003). While no tests for the carcinogenicity of

these compounds have been conducted on animals, tests using bacteria showed no trace of

mutagenic effects (Williams, 2003).

Plastics and Casings

Most electronic equipment contains plastic casings that serve as the protective shell and structure

for various products including computers (Brennan et al., 2002). These casings often contain

plastics such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs); part of a wider group of materials

known as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) (Domingo, 2004). While BFRs are considered a

safety precaution, they are difficult to recycle and separate from other plastics, and due to their

high bromine content, will be banned from the European Union as of July 1, 2006 (Osako et al.,

2004). Very little is known about the effect that BFRs exert on human health, however, due to

their long half-lives (2-10 years) and structural similarities with polychlorinated biphenyls

(PCBs) and dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), they are considered environmentally

persistent and are known to biomagnify (Domingo, 2004). BFRs have caused

neurodevelopmental toxicity in lab rats, and have been found in increasing quantities in human

blood, adipose and liver tissues, and in breast milk (Domingo, 2004).

2.1.3 Computer Manufacturing

In order to obtain an accurate measure of the environmental impact of computer technology, the

production process of computer technology must be examined. From the extraction of raw

materials, to the production of computer parts and constituent materials, and the final assembly of

whole computer units, a myriad of environmental problems arise (Fava et al., 1993).

The impact of computer technology largely depends on the scope used in analysis, and can

involve an assessment of a system’s entire life cycle, including the environmental impacts of

preliminary manufacturing activities. These include the mining and smelting of raw materials,

and the refining of petroleum to provide the vast amounts of energy required to produce and use

computers (Curran, 1996). However, it is the unique manufacturing processes from which

computers themselves are derived, that exerts further impacts and thus requires an in-depth


While the environmental impacts associated with the production and disposal of CRTs, LCDs

and plastics are highly significant; the production of other computer components must also be

explained in order to fully grasp the extent of the environmental impacts imposed by their


Microchip Fabrication

CPU function is based on microchips, and it is the fabrication of these components that cause the

largest environmental impacts related to manufacturing (Geiser, 2001). Over 400 individual

processing steps exist in the production of semiconductor microchips, but the basic process

involves a sequence of layering, oxidation and patterning processes and is explained in Table 2.

Table 2: Basic steps in computer chip fabrication (reconstructed from Williams, 2003)

                  Process                                Description
                                  Application of a thin layer of desired material, usually
                                  silicon or aluminum
                                  Changes a semi-conducting silicon layer into a
                                  insulating silicon dioxide layer
                                  Carving of a dense, maze-like set of furrows into a
                                  Use of solvents or particle bombardment to alter the
                                  layer patterns

Between each step, microchips are processed with large amounts of ultra-pure water. Microchips

are then bathed in a wide range of chemical solvents in order to ensure their purity, as any small

defect on its surface can hinder its function (Geiser, 2001). Chemical solvents used include:

hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, arsenic, benzene and hexavalent chromium; many of which

are known to cause deleterious environmental and human health effects (Williams, 2003).

Circuit Board Fabrication

Printed circuit boards are responsible for connecting microchips and other components of the

computer. The physical base of the circuit board is made of an insulating material sandwiched

between thin copper layers (Williams, 2003). The fabrication process of printed circuit boards is

quite similar to that of microchips. Metals such as copper, lead, silver, tin and chromium, as well

as PBDEs, act as flame retardants incorporated into the manufacturing process, as well as, in the

unit itself. These various materials are bioaccumulative and along with neurodevelopmental

problems, can cause thyroid disruption (Darnerud et al., 2001).

Resource Use in Manufacturing

In many manufacturing processes, environmental impacts will arise through the intensive use of

chemicals, energy, or water resources at each step of production. Table 3 shows the general

amounts of resources used in the manufacturing of various computer components (Williams,

2003). In many cases, this intensive resource use is necessary to ensure that high-grade

chemicals and components are employed in the manufacturing process. Chemicals used in

computer fabrication are of purity typically in the range of 99.995-99.9999%, compared with

industrial grade purities of 90-99% (Williams, 2003).

Table 3: Resource Use in production of various computer components (Reconstructed from: Williams, 2003)

          Component                Fossil Fuels (kg)      Chemicals (kg)       Water (kg)
       Computer Chips                      94                    7.1                310
   Printed Circuit Boards                  14                    14                 780
        CRT monitors                      31.5                  0.49                450
        LCD monitors                       226                   3.7               1290

2.1.4 Social and Political Implications

The 1980’s proved to be an era of tightening environmental regulations with respect to the

transboundary disposal of hazardous wastes (Secretariat of the Basel Convention, 2005).

Unfortunately, as prices for hazardous waste disposal rose, so did the occurrence of “toxic

traders”; the practice of shipping electronic wastes to developing countries where they are

cheaply and manually sorted (Secretariat of the Basel Convention, 2005). On May 5, 1992, the

Basel Convention, under the United Nations Environment Program, came into force in order to

control the movement of hazardous wastes across international borders (Secretariat of the Basel

Convention, 2005). In 1995, the Basal Action Network (BAN) Amendment was drafted in order

to prohibit the export of hazardous waste from the European Union, Liechtenstein and what are

known as Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries (The OECD

countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland,

France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea,

Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden,

Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the US) to all other parties of the convention (Secretariat of the

Basel Convention, 2005). Adherence to the convention is voluntary, and of the 164 parties, only

Afghanistan, Haiti and the US have not yet ratified it (Secretariat to the Basel Convention, 2005).

Unfortunately, many of the stipulations of the Convention can be interpreted in various ways,

thus paving the way for “toxic trading” to continue (Secretariat of the Basel Convention, 2005).

Baul (2002) estimates that even with the Basel Convention in place, roughly 200 tonnes of

obsolete computer waste are shipped to South East Asia each year, of which Canada is a

contributor. The reported recycling practices in such countries include manually smashing

monitors and the melting of circuit boards over open flames; practices detrimental to human and

environmental health (Baul, 2002).

2.2 Green Procurement

In order to effectively manage the vast quantities of computer waste being generated annually, at

a global scale, the implementation of proactive and design-based measures has begun in several

countries. The creation of environmentally friendly products and waste recovery techniques has

become increasingly important aspects of computer production, use, and disposal. This is due to

a decrease in the number of available landfill sites, society becoming more environmentally

aware, and increasing scarcity of non-renewable energy sources (Gungor and Gupta, 1999). One

term which incorporates all these factors is “green procurement”. Green procurement is the

environmentally responsible selection of products and services with consideration of the

consequences of such a product throughout the various stages of its life cycle (BSD Global,

2002). This implies that the various ecological costs of securing raw materials, manufacturing,

transporting, storing, handling, using and disposing of a product, must not only be considered,

but become inherent parts of that product’s design. Examples include: designing computers

which can easily be broken down for recycling and are less hazardous to recycle due to lower

levels of toxic components (Lee et al., 2004), or designing efficient systems which effectively

separate and recover recyclable components from obsolete systems (Zhang and Forssberg, 1999).

Equipping computer systems with internal energy regulation devices (SVTC, 2005) and ensuring

that human and environmental health are not compromised during recovery and end-of-life

management, through policy and public education, (Nagel and Meyer, 1999), are all significant

components of green procurement.

Green procurement strategies have already been demonstrated in countries such as Germany and

Taiwan, where producers are responsible for the recycling of obsolete computers, thus creating an

incentive to produce products which can be easily recycled (Lee et al., 2004). The various

“ecolabels”, such as ENERGY STAR, ensure that computers are running under energy

conservation measures (SVTC, 2005), and even Canadian post secondary institutions such as the

University of Manitoba have recently employed green procurement strategies in an on-campus

setting (Searcy, 2001). Due to its broad definition, green procurement can be applied to all facets

of the computer industry, thus making it a model strategy not only for the management, but the

elimination of computer wastes.

2.2.1 The Acquisition of 'Green Computers'

The acquisition of computers using green procurement strategies can potentially reduce their

environmental burden. By supporting manufacturers who utilize “green” production processes,

these environmentally sound means of production can be further propagated and perhaps

eventually become the industry standard (Saied and Velasquez, 2003).

Many organizations today are beginning to develop and adopt green procurement policies, as

they can result in significant cost savings from more energy efficient technology. Also, growing

public environmental awareness requires environmental and social accountability, thus requiring

producers to take responsibility for their products (Gungor and Gupta, 1999).

There are several manufacturing options currently available which employ fewer toxic chemicals

in their various processes. Methods of manufacturing and purifying computer chips have been

developed to fit this strategy, and the rise in PBDE-free plastic casings reflects the move towards

alternative processing as well (Shigekazu, 2004). Computer components that contain lead-free

soldering are also being produced as a means of reducing this toxic and harmful substance

(Griese et al, 2000).

Manufacturing is only one component in the successful acquisition of ecologically sound

computer equipment. Another important factor is the need for extended producer responsibility.

This concept recognizes that manufacturers and brand-owners are responsible for their equipment

throughout all stages of its lifecycle, and should therefore strive to produce computers in an

environmentally conscientious manner in order to avoid future negative environmental impacts

for which they will be responsible (Gungor and Gupta, 1999). This involves producer

understanding of the product’s environmental impacts throughout all stages of its lifecycle, as

well as the implementation of environmental product design in order to minimize these impacts at

the beginning of the lifecycle (Gungor and Gupta, 1999). The acquisition of environmentally

sound computer products should be based upon these various practices, thus creating a demand

for such products in the market and eventually leading to the implementation of these practices

into all computer production processes (Saied and Velasquez, 2003).

2.2.2 Power Saving Techniques and Ecolabeling

The ENERGY STAR symbol (Figure 1) is an increasingly common sight on the

outer surfaces of various computer systems. The ENERGY STAR program was established in

1992 by the U.S. EPA in order to reduce the amount of energy used by computer systems

(USEPA, 2005). ENERGY STAR power management features                   Figure 1: ENERGY STAR

are now standard in Windows and Macintosh operating systems            Symbol

and all the buyer must do is ensure that they are enabled. These

power management features place inactive computers and

monitors into a “sleep mode”. While in sleep mode, the computer consumes 15% less power

than when in regular mode (USEPA, 2005). The computer or monitor can be “woken up” simply

by touching the keyboard or moving the mouse.

Some advantages of using ENERGY STAR qualified computers include a 70% reduction in

electricity, and equipment runs at cooler temperatures and therefore, lasts longer because the

systems are not continually running at full power (USEPA, 2005). However, some

misconceptions and concerns have arisen from the use of ENERGY STAR management

practices. While users may believe that repeatedly shutting down and starting up a computer will

shorten its lifespan, this is not the case. Modern computers are designed to be able to withstand

40,000 on-off cycles without technical problems (USEPA, 2005). Another common

misconception is that screen savers save energy. Screen savers are designed to maintain

computer screens, not conserve energy (USEPA, 2005). With current technological

developments, screen savers are more a form of entertainment than a necessity. Another

common concern is that computers and monitors that are ENERGY STAR qualified will cost

more money upon purchasing. This is also untrue, as there is no increased cost for having these

systems integrated into a personal computer.

Ecolabels, however, can represent more than simply power saving techniques, and can be applied

to many products including household paints and paper products (SVTC, 2005). Many countries

employ various ecolabels for desktops and laptops alike. Figure 2 shows examples of some of

the most popular ecolabels found under the Global Ecolabling Network: German “Blue Angel”,

European Union, Nordic Swan and Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (TCO).

Figure 2: Popular ecolabels under the Global Ecolabeling Network (From SVTC, 2005).

Appendix 2 contains full descriptions of these ecolabels and the environmental guarantees they


2.2.3 End of Life Management

The disposal of computers is a unique issue due to the fact that most computers are often

disposed of before they truly become useless. In fact, the main reason for purchasing a new

computer is not to replace a non-functioning system, but to keep up with rapidly changing

technologies (Williams and Sasaki, 2003). One key term which is important for industry, the

government, and the public, with respect to computer disposal, is “upstream management”; the

various methods employed to reduce the amount of in-coming computer wastes before they are

disposed of for good (Williams and Sasaki, 2003). These methods embody the concept of

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and have proven to yield many benefits, both environmental and


Reduction and Reuse

Reducing the amount of computer waste relies heavily upon the reuse of systems that may be out

of date, but fully functional. Reusing old computers can manifest itself in two main ways; by the

selling or donation of old systems, or by up-grading existing systems (Williams and Sasaki,

2003). The key concept with respect to reuse is to meet the user’s needs with existing machines,

while extending that machine’s lifespan.

There are a number of organizations around the world, which focus on the redistribution of old

computers. In the 1990’s, Williams and Sasaki (2003) found that schools and small businesses

were generating the greatest demand for used computers. The Canadian federal government

initiative, “Computers for Schools”, was founded in 1993, and since then has collected, repaired,

refurbished and redistributed over 500 000 computers across Canada (CFS, 2005). Currently,

Computers for Schools delivers 80 000 additional computers each year to schools, public libraries

and non-profit organizations, for a cost of CDN $85 per computer (CFS, 2005). The National

Cristina Foundation (NCF) in partnership with Dell computers, carries out both computer re-

distribution and recycling, and also donates systems, as well as provides, IT training to disabled

and disadvantaged members of the community (Dell, 2005).

Reselling old computers is another way to extend a working PC’s lifespan, however, many re-sell

agents only accept the newest generation of equipment (Williams and Sasaki, 2003). Computer

Renaissance is the largest chain of re-sell shops in North America (110 stores), and even original

equipment manufacturers such as IBM, Dell and Hewlett Packard/Compaq sell their own

refurbished systems on-line (Williams and Sasaki, 2003). In 2002, eBay, the largest on-line

auctioneer sold US $2 billion worth of computer equipment, of which 40% was new, 14% was

refurbished and 46% was used (Keafe, 2002).

Upgrading a computer in order to suit current technology is a choice often made only by

computer specialists or hobbyists, due to the fact that user knowledge is required and full

upgrades can be costly. While upgrading individual components of a computer, such as the hard

drive or processor, may cost less than a new PC; upgrades which involve the addition of a

Universal Serial Bus (USB) port result in the “complete upgrade” and often cost more than a new

system (Williams and Sasaki, 2003).

Recycling and Reduction

As rates of computer disposal appear to keep in-step with the rate at which technology changes,

the disposal of computers in landfills is no longer an option for end of life management (Lee et

al., 2004). With the introduction of increased producer take-back legislation, or “extended

producer responsibility” in such countries as Germany and Taiwan, making use of efficient and

effective recycling strategies is now more economically and ecologically important than ever

(Zhang and Forssberg, 1999). Recycling is always more economically beneficial if it gives

priority to whole-product recycling (i.e. re-use), however, this cannot always be the case;

therefore efficient material recycling techniques are needed (Williams and Sasaki, 2003).

One of the main problems encountered during the computer recycling process is the effective

physical separation of components. The concept of “Intelligent Liberation” is presented by

Zhang and Forssberg (1999) as a means of accurate mechanical separation of computer scrap

components, such as printed circuit boards, for further recycling. Materials used in computer

equipment are held together via weak interfacial bonds such as welding, fastening and wrapping,

and therefore intelligent liberation of these materials can occur via low energy methods. One

method utilizes a ring shredder which is capable of producing particles of desired shapes and

sizes which can be further separated and recycled (Zhang and Forssberg, 1999). Once these

“liberated” materials are obtained, they can be further separated through eddy current separation;

a method in which an eddy current is created through the spinning of magnets at over 3000 rpm.

This current reacts differently with different metals, thus allowing for separation to take place at a

95% recovery rate for particles as small as 2 mm in diameter (Anonymous, 2003). Other

mechanisms of separation include sink-float density-based separation and screen-aspirator

systems (Zhang and Forssberg, 1999).

CRT monitors are another component that require careful recycling measures due to their high

lead content (Lee et al., 2004). Since panel and funnel glass contain different amounts of lead,

they should be separated by either the electric-wire heating method or the gravitational fall

method (Lee et al., 2004). Both methods may be effectively employed, however, using a super

heated wire to separate the glass, often achieves cleaner separation (Lee et al., 2004).

Once all separation and grinding has occurred, individual metals are separated by electrolysis and

recycled accordingly (e.g. ferrous materials are reprocessed in traditional steel-waste processing

plants or smelters), while cleaned CRT glass is sent to ceramic plants where it is re-used as raw

material for future production (Lee et al., 2004). While these processes are effective, some tend

to generate waste waters and residuals which are difficult to treat and dispose of (Klatt, 2003).

Effective Recycling and Reduction Options

Many countries have ratified the Basel Convention and have even initiated legislation forcing

producers to take back old systems, however, the problem of toxic traders is still very real

(Kuehr, 2003). For this reason, in 2003, the “Electronic Recycler’s Pledge of True Stewardship”

was first launched by the Basel Convention (BAN, 2005). Those who take the pledge must agree

to meet rigorous criteria in order to recycle electronic waste in the most sustainable and socially

just manner possible. The pledge itself can be found in Appendix 3. Maxus Tech Inc. and Retro

Systems in Alberta, and Logic Box Distribution Inc. in Mississauga, Ontario, are the only three

Canadian recycling companies have taken the pledge thus far (BAN, 2005).

Logic Box accepts any type of computer and peripheral devices free of charge (Chezzi, 2004).

The goal at Logic Box is to dismantle, refurbish and repair computers for re-sale, or individual

parts within the tenets of the pledge (Chezzi, 2004). When electronic devices reach the stage

where recycling is the only option for end of life management, they are shipped to the

Mississauga based Electronic Product Recovery Services (EPRS). Here, a specially designed

shredder sorts metals within electronic devices as well as associated packaging products, such as

cardboard and shrink wrap (Chezzi, 2004). Even the dust produced from this system is captured,

compressed and re-processed as to achieve a no-waste standard. Not only are these companies

developing their own environmentally sound technologies, but they are also local, thus providing

potentially viable options for the future.

No matter how many environmentally sound re-use and recycling schemes are implemented,

computer wastes will continue to be a serious environmental and social problem, unless the

public becomes educated and informed regarding these processes and the reasons behind them.

In turn, the choices of environmentally informed consumers will play a huge role in the

“greening” of the computer industry (Kuehr, 2003). As previously mentioned, ecolabels provide

environmental symbols which can be easily recognized by consumers. In fact, many labels,

including Norway’s “Nordic Swan” and Sweden’s “TCO”, provide user instructions regarding

available take-back procedures, upgrading options and energy saving techniques (SVTC, 2005).

One original idea regarding public education is called the “Green Port Identification Unit” (Nagel

and Meyer, 1999). This theoretical system would allow consumers to “plug and recycle”;

meaning that when an electronic product has reached its end of life, it could be hooked up to

software that would enable the customer to read all information about its structural and chemical

components, as well as its life time (hours of operation, physical or temperature shocks). The

consumer would then be provided with information regarding the appropriate recycling stream

for the product; thus making an environmentally informed decision (Nagel and Meyer, 1999).

Public education is a key component of green procurement because it can exert a strong influence

on industry and therefore bring about ecological change (Kuehr, 2003). Unfortunately, the

general public has yet to realize the ecological effects of this influence; however, increasing

education and awareness will aid in the realization of this.

2.3 Case Study: Green Procurement Guidelines for the University of Manitoba

The University of Manitoba recently completed a draft report entitled The University of Manitoba

Campus Plan – Network Services (Searcy, 2001). As part of the plan, the University

acknowledged the need for stewardship of the physical environment and the development of

green procurement guidelines. As one of the fundamental concepts of green procurement, each

guideline was created based on sound environmental principles that take into account the entire

life cycle of a product. Therefore, impacts related to the extraction and processing of raw

materials, design, manufacturing, packaging, transport, distribution, installation, use,

maintenance, recycling, reuse, and final disposal of the product were all considered in the

development of guidelines (Searcy, 2001). In addition to criteria associated with environmental

impacts, it is important to note that traditional performance requirements, such as cost and

availability, were also considered.

Two broad categories of criteria for procurement were identified: procurement of products and

procurement of services. Several green procurement guidelines for office equipment were

included in the plan:

       Preference must be given to office products which bear ecolabels, are upgradeable, and

       contain recycled materials

       Suppliers which offer a take-back or trade-in program must be sought out and given


       Products which use minimal packaging and are energy efficient must be given preference

       Supplies should be bought in bulk in order to minimize wastes from packaging as well as

       fossil fuel emissions from transportation

       Office equipment that is easily dismantled must be selected in order to encourage efficient

       reuse, refurbishment or recycling

By following these green procurement practices the University of Manitoba should reduce the

overall impact that it has on the environment (Searcy, 2001). However, for this to effectively

occur, environmental considerations must be integrated with existing purchasing practices and be

consistent with such traditional factors as product safety, price, performance, and availability

(Searcy, 2001). Through the implementation of these guidelines, potential benefits such as

reduced environmental impacts and improved energy efficiency may be realized.

3.0 Materials and Methods

The materials and methods of this study were designed to test the following null hypothesis:

The University of Guelph's current practices will be the same as the best-case scenario for

energy consumption and cradle-to-cradle environmental efficiency.

3.1 Survey Design

3.1.1 Quantifying Computer Energy Use in Libraries and Laboratories

Upon our request, the departmental manager at Computing and Communication Services (CCS)

sent out an e-mail survey to all the information technology (IT) managers at the University of

Guelph regarding computer energy use in the libraries and laboratories. Laboratories with less

than 20 computers were not considered because the number of these that exist on campus is too

difficult to determine. Questions in the survey included:

   •   Which computer lab(s) are you responsible for?

   •   How many hours a day are the computers in this lab powered on for?

   •   How many days a week is the computer lab open for?

   •   Do the computer systems have a stand-by/energy saving mode that is used if the

       computers become inactive? And if so, how many hours a day do you suspect that it is on

       stand-by/energy saving mode?

E-mail responses were received from the following IT managers: Crop Science, Graham Hall,

McLaughlin Library, Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) library, and OVC microcomputer

laboratory. Responses from IT managers were not received from the following buildings: Hutt,

Mackinnon, MacNaughton, and Powell. A physical count was necessary to estimate the quantity

of computers in Hutt, Mackinnon, MacNaughton, and Powell (Appendix 5). It was assumed that

the length of the computer activity was the same as the posted hours in each lab. Due to the

difficulty of accurately determining the amount of time the computers were on stand-by/energy

saving mode, it was assumed that they were left active for the entire time the laboratory was


There was a slight discrepancy in the number of computers reported by the McLaughlin library’s

IT manager to the number reported on the library’s website. To verify the quantity of computers

in the library a physical count of the library’s student used computers was performed.

From speaking to various IT managers and doing physical quantification of computers on campus

it was discovered that there are a variety of computer systems on campus. There are some very

old CPUs and old CRT monitors, as well as some new CPUs and LCD monitors. To quantify

energy consumption, IT managers were asked about the proportion of CPUs that are new along

with LCD monitors. In the MacLaughlin library computers were counted and LCD and CRT

monitors were noted.

3.1.2 Quantifying Computer Energy Use by Faculty and Graduate Students

An approximation of the current number of faculty and graduate students on campus was

obtained on the University of Guelph’s Resource Planning and Analysis website (University of

Guelph: Office of the President, 2004). Fall 2004 statistics were presented for on-campus full

time and part time graduate students, as well as faculty members.

Since a campus wide survey for faculty and graduate students was not temporally feasible for this

study, one building on campus was selected as a model for energy use in all buildings. The

Richards Building was selected as this model for faculty and graduate students on campus

because it is assumed that this building represents standard computer energy consumption for all

buildings. This assumption was based on the hours of operation of the Richards Building (8:30

am - 4:30 pm), which is typical for most buildings on campus. The faculty and graduate staff of

the Richards Building represent 4.23% (120 computers) of the University of Guelph's total

faculty and graduate student population. The results for the Richards Building can be used as a

representation of the amount of time that all faculty and graduate student computers are active.

The Richards Building was also selected because it is the easiest place to obtain data for the


Computer energy use was measured using Netscan version 2.4, a program that scans for internet

protocol (IP) addresses that are in use at the time the scan is performed (Netscan, 2005). This

program, therefore, has the ability to track computers that are active in a given IP range. During

this study, a lab technician in the Richards Building provided the IP range of the computers in

that building’s network. This allowed for the location of all active computers on the network in

the Richards Building at the times the scan was performed. Further assistance was given by the

same lab technician to determine which of the IP addresses were indeed computers and not

networked printers or departmental servers, which are also assigned IP addresses. The precision

and accuracy of this program was first tested on a personal network to ensure that it was

effectively picking up all active computers. From this control it was discovered that the program

is not capable of distinguishing between offline computers and those in energy saving mode.

Therefore, if a computer is not showing up on Netscan it was assumed to be off, as most energy

saving modes use negligible quantities of energy. This program was run three times a day at

approximately 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm, for one week (Tuesday March 15, 2005 to

Monday March 21, 2005) to obtain a representative sample of computer usage at different times

of the day.

Assumptions used:

       The proportion of new CPUs and LCD monitors for the faculty and graduate students are

       the same as those found in the MacLaughlin library

       The Richards Building uses only static IP addresses

       All computers in the Richards Building are used by faculty and graduate students and

       there is one computer per person

The results of the IP scanning period are a realistic representation of the faculty and graduate

student population of the University because:

   1. It is assumed that all faculty and graduate students have similar schedules and

       responsibilities. Faculty and graduate students from every building on campus will have

       to attend conferences, perform lab work and, fieldwork, and will have sick days.

   2. It is assumed that the only differences between all faculty and graduate students are the

       subject matters with which each individual works.

3.2 Statistical Analysis

3.2.1 z–Test Analysis:

Data obtained from the e-mail surveys distributed to departmental managers by CCS were used to

conduct 3 separate one-tailed z–tests. These tests were used to determine if there was a

significant difference between current computer usage by libraries, computer laboratories, faculty

and graduate students and the best and worst-case scenarios. The tests were performed at a 95%

significance level and the z–critical value was 1.96.

For the best-case scenario, the null hypothesis (for statistical purposes only) is:

Ho: current energy consumption by computers on campus (libraries, computer labs and faculty

and graduate students) is equivalent to the best-case scenario of computer energy use.

For the worst-case scenario, the null hypothesis is

Ho: current energy consumption by computers on campus (libraries, computer labs and faculty

and graduate students) is equivalent to the worst-case scenario of computer energy use.

3.2.2 S-Plus Analysis

S-Plus, a statistical software program was used to produce 3 statistical summaries for the raw

data from the monitoring sessions (S-Plus, 2002). Each summary produced values for the mean

computer usage for each of the monitoring times as well as, the standard deviation, the minimum

and maximum percentage of computers on, the first, second and third quartiles and the median

value of the raw data. The first summary included computer usage for Monday through Sunday.

The second summary included computer usage for Monday through Friday and was considered to

be a 5 day work week. Finally, a summary of weekend use, Saturday and Sunday, was produced.

All three summaries were compared to examine different use patterns of computer systems in the

Richards Building.

3.3 Environmental Impacts and Green Procurement Strategies

Throughout the course of this study, literature reviews were conducted in order to gain insight

into computer life cycles and various related topics associated with their environmental impacts

and potential green procurement. In order to apply this information to the University of Guelph,

the on-campus Sustainability Coordinator was contacted, and, upon request provided information

regarding the University of Guelph’s current disposal strategies. As the University currently

donates old systems to a local outreach program, the coordinator of that initiative was also


Once current disposal techniques were established, alternative techniques were researched,

compiled and ranked based on environmental effectiveness and economic feasibility. The current

and possible computer acquisition techniques were also researched via literature reviews and

communication with various IT personnel. In order to understand the potential implications of

the implementation of green procurement at the University of Guelph, other Canadian institutions

that had recently undergone such changes were studied on a case-by-case basis. All information

was analyzed and compiled for the provision of future recommendations.

4.0 Results

4.1 Statistical Results

4.1.1 z-Test Statistical Results

Best-case scenario

The following are results for testing if computer energy consumption is equivalent to the best-

case scenario for laboratories, libraries and by faculty and graduate students. The null hypotheses

presented in this section are used for statistical purposes only and do not effect the overall null

hypothesis. For each of the tests below, the null hypothesis is rejected if z > 1.96.

For Laboratories:

Ho: µ = 442.00 kWhr/yr
H: µ > 442.00 kWhr/yr

xavg. = 1137.65 kWhr/yr
σ2 = 1.28 x 10-8

z = (xavg. – 442.00 kWhr/yr / (σ2 / n)1/2
 = (1137.65 – 442.00) / (1.28 x 10-8 / 689) 1/2
 = 1.61 x 108 kWhr/yr

z > 1.96, therefore we can reject the null hypothesis.

For Libraries:

Ho: µ = 493.00 kWhr/yr
H: µ > 493.00 kWhr/yr

xavg. = 1741.34 kWhr/yr
σ2 = 3.68 x 10-8

z = (xavg. – 493.00 kWhr/yr / (σ2 / n)1/2
 = (1741.34 – 493.00) / (3.68 x 10-8 / 289) 1/2
 = 1.11x 108 kWhr/yr

z > 1.96, therefore we can reject the null hypothesis.

For Faculty and Graduate Students:

Ho: µ = 239.00 kWhr/yr
H: µ > 239.00 kWhr/yr

xavg. = 933.66 kWhr/yr
σ2 = 1.35 x 10-8

z = (xavg. – 239.00 kWhr/yr) / (σ2 / n)1/2
 = (933.66 – 239.00) / (1.35 x 10-8 / 289) 1/2
 = 1.73 x 109 kWhr/yr

z > 1.96, therefore we can reject the null hypothesis.

Worst-case scenario

The following are results for testing if computer energy consumption is equivalent to the worst-

case scenario for laboratories, libraries and by faculty and graduate students. The null hypotheses

presented in this section are used for statistical purposes only and do not effect the overall null

hypothesis. For each of the tests below, the null hypothesis is rejected if z > 1.96.

For Laboratories:

Ho: µ = 2359.00 kWhr/yr
H: µ > 2359.00 kWhr/yr
xavg. = 1137.65 kWhr/yr
σ2 = 1.28 x 10-8

z = (xavg. – 2359.00 kWhr/yr) / (σ2 / n)1/2
 = (1137.65 – 2359.00) / (1.28 x 10-8 / 689) 1/2
 = - 2.83 x 109 kWhr/yr

z < 1.96, therefore we fail to reject the null hypothesis.

For Libraries:

Ho: µ = 2359.00 kWhr/yr
H: µ > 2359.00 kWhr/yr

xavg. = 1137.65 kWhr/yr
σ2 = 3.68 x 10-8

z = (xavg. – 2359.00 kWhr/yr) / (σ2 / n)1/2
 = (1741.34 – 2359.00) / (3.68 x 10-8 / 289) 1/2
 = -5.47 x 107 kWhr/yr

z < 1.96, therefore we fail to reject the null hypothesis.

For Faculty and Graduate Students:

Ho: µ = 2359.00 kWhr/yr
H: µ > 2359.00 kWhr/yr

xavg. = 933.66 kWhr/yr
σ2 = 1.35 x 10-8

z = (xavg. – 2359.00 kWhr/yr) / (σ2 / n)1/2
 = (933.66 – 2359.00) / (1.35 x 10-8 / 289) 1/2
 = -6.54 x 108 kWhr/yr

z < 1.96, therefore we fail to reject the null hypothesis.

4.1.2 S-Plus Statistical Results

Three moments, 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm, were monitored to determine the number of

computers that were on in the Richards Building. 10:00 am is considered to be the morning.

2:00 pm is considered to be the afternoon. 7:00 pm is considered to be the evening and both

10:00 am and 2:00 pm combined are considered to be the afternoon. The number of computers

turned on at a given time were computed as a percent value and then compared by using

statistical software.

From the use of the S-Plus statistical software program the following information was determined

(Appendix 6). The average percentage of computers turned on at 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm

over a 7 day week period are 48.6%, 52.3% and 33.5% respectively. Assuming that these

moments in time are the only time that a computer is on for, the results show that more

computers are turned on throughout the day than in the evening. Also, a higher percentage of

computers are turned on in the afternoon compared with the percent of computers turned on in

the morning.

The difference between the maximum number of computers turned on at one time and the

minimum number of computers turned on at one time result in a value called the range. The

range for the percentage of computers turned on for the 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and

7:00 pm for the 7 day week is 31.8%, 33.3% and 31.7% respectively. The 2:00 pm monitoring

period showed the greatest deviation from the mean (14.5%) while the 7:00 pm monitoring time

had the least deviation from the mean (11.1%). The average percentage of computers turned on

at 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm over a 5 day work week are 55.9%, 60.7% and 35.3%

respectively. These results are similar to the 7 day week results above, in that more computers

are turned on throughout the day than at night. Also, a higher percentage of computers are turned

on in the afternoon compared with the percent of computers turned on in the morning.

The range for the percentage of computers turned on at 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm for the 5

day work week is 8.5%, 5.0% and 31.6% respectively. The 7:00 pm monitoring period showed

the greatest deviation from the mean (13.0%) while the 2:00 pm monitoring time had the least

deviation from the mean (2.2%).

The average percentage of computers turned on at 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm over a 2 day

weekend are 30.4%, 31.3% and 28.8% respectively. These results are similar again to both the 7

day week and the 5 day work week in that more computers are turned on throughout the day than

at night. Again, it was also found that a higher percentage of computers are turned on in the

afternoon compared with the percent of computers turned on in the morning.

The range for the percentage of computers turned on for 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm for the 2

day weekend is 2.5%, 2.5% and 0.8% respectively. The 7:00 pm monitoring time had the least

deviation from the mean (0.6%) while both the 10:00 am and 2:00 pm monitoring times showed

the same deviation value from their means.

The percentage of computers that were observed to be on during all three monitoring times over

the entire week long monitoring period was determined manually, without the use of statistical

software. It was found that 19.2 % of all computers were on throughout the entire monitoring

period. Excluding the 19.2% of computers that were on for each of the monitoring times, 47.5%,

57.5%, 46.7%, 48.3%, 45.8%, 13.3% and 20.0% of computers were turned on at least once for

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

4. 2 Energy Consumption

As shown in Table 4, the University of Guelph’s current energy consumption lies between worst

and best-case scenarios, being closer to the best case. It was also found that conservation plans to

reduce energy consumption contributed the most to energy savings as compared to purchasing

new computer equipment thus rejecting the first sub null-hypothesis and accepting second sub

null-hypothesis (Figure 5).

4.2.1 Faculty and Graduate Students

From Netscan, it was determined that the average hourly usage for faculty and graduate students

was 9.5 hours per day, for a 5 day work week, without stand-by/energy saving mechanisms

(Appendix 7). It was assumed that 50% of all monitors were LCD as this was the general on

campus trend (Appendix 7). Faculty and graduate students were found to consume the highest

amount of energy on campus (Figure 3, Table 4). However, on a per computer basis, faculty and

graduate students were found to use the least amount of energy (Figure 4, Table 6).

4.2.2 Computer Laboratories

Computer laboratories with more than 20 computers were located in: Crop Science, Graham Hall,

Hutt, Mackinnon, MacNaughton, OVC microcomputer laboratory and Powell (Table 5). The

laboratories hours ranged from 24 hours, 7 days a week, to 9 hours per day, 5 days a week

(Appendix 7). Each laboratory differed in the number of LCD monitors versus CRT monitors.

Some laboratories contained 100% CRTs while other laboratories only contained 10% CRTs.

However overall, approximately 50% of monitors on campus were found to be CRT monitors

(Appendix 7). Energy consumed by computer laboratories as a whole was only exceeded by the

energy consumed faculty and graduate students (Figure 3, Table 4). This trend was noticed on a

per computer basis as well (Figure 4, Table 6).

4.2.3 Libraries

The MacLaughlin and OVC computers were found to be on for 24 and 12 hours per day,

respectively (Appendix 7). MacLaughlin library was found to contain 45% CRTs and 55% LCD

monitors, while the OVC library contained 100% CRTs (Appendix 7). The libraries were found

to consume the least energy of the three groups (Figure 3, Table 4). However, on a per computer

basis the libraries were found to consume the most energy (Figure 4, Table 6).

Table 4: University of Guelph's Current Energy Consumption in Comparison with the Worst-Case and Best-
Case Scenarios
                                         Current               Best-Case               Worst-Case
                                    Total                   Total                   Total
                                   energy                 energy                   energy
                                               Cost ($)               Cost ($)                 Cost ($)
                                  use/year               use/year                 use/year
                                  (kWhr/yr)              (kWhr/yr)                (kWhr/yr)
Laboratories                     783,844      62,708      304,290     24,343     1,625,158    130,013
Faculty and Graduate Students   2,645,992     211,679     677,893     54,231     6,684,612    534,769
Libraries                        503,246      40,260      142,598     11,408      681,670     54,534

Table 5: Energy Consumption in University of Guelph Buildings

                                        Current                 Best-Case             Worst-Case
                                   Total                    Total                   Total
                                 energy                   energy                  energy
          Location                            Cost ($)                Cost ($)                Cost ($)
                                use/year                 use/year                use/year
                                (kWhr/yr)                (kWhr/yr)               (kWhr/yr)
Crop Science                      50,450       4,036       8,907        713        82,555      6,604
Graham Hall                       36,036       2,883       6,362        509        58,968      4,717
Hutt                             160,393      12,831       17,304      1,384      160,393     12,831
MacNaughton                       87,567       7,005       16,795      1,344      155,676     12,454
McKinnon                          68,234       5,459       18,322      1,466      141,523     11,322
OVC Microcomputer lab             65,520       5,242       20,452     1,636       117,936      9,435
Powell                            22,113       1,769       5,938        475        82,555      6,604
Thornbrough and Renyolds         293,530      23,482      210,210     16,817      825,552     66,044
MacLaughlin Library              470,486      37,639      132,372     10,590      622,702     49,816
OVC Library                       32,760       2,621       10,226       818        58,968      4,717
Faculty and Graduate Students   2,645,992     211,679     677,893     54,231     6,684,612    534,769
Total                           3,933,082     314,647    1,124,782    89,983     8,991,441    719,315

       Figure 3: Current Energy Consumption

                                                        300                                                                             250

                                                                                            Power Usage                     Cost
                Power Usage (kW hr/yr/computer x 103)


                                                                                                                                              Cost (Cost/yr/Computer x 102)




                                                                                          78          $63

                                                                                                                    50         $40      50

                                                         0                                                                              0

                                                              Faculty and Graduate   Labs with 20 computers or    MacLaughlin Library
                                                                   Students                    more

       Table 6: Energy Consumption per Computer in University of Guelph Buildings

                                                                                            Current                   Best-Case                 Worst-Case
                                                                                       Total                       Total                      Total
                                                                        # of          energy                      energy                     energy
          Location                                                                               Cost ($)                   Cost ($)                   Cost ($)
                                                                      Computers      use/year                    use/year                   use/year
                                                                                      (kW/yr)                    (kWhr/yr)                  (kWhr/yr)
Crop Science                                                             35           1,441            115         254           20           2,359                             189
Graham Hall                                                              25           1,441            115         254           20           2,359                             189
Hutt                                                                     68           2,359            189         254           20           2,359                             189
MacNaughton                                                              66           1,327            106         254           20           2,359                             189
McKinnon                                                                 60           1,137             91         305           24           2,359                             189
OVC Microlab                                                             50            1,310           105         409           33           2,359                             189
Powell                                                                   35             632             51         170           14           2,359                             189
Thornbrough and Renyolds                                                 350            839             67         601            48          2,359                             189
MacLaughlin Library                                                     264           1,782            143         501           40           2,359                             189
OVC Library                                                              25           1,310            105         409           33           2,359                             189
Faculty and Graduate Students                                           2834            934             75         239           19           2,359                             189
Total                                                                   3812          14,513          1,161       3,652          292          25,946                           2,076

Figure 4: Current Energy Consumption per Computer

                                           2000                                                                                          160
                                                                                         Power Usage                       Cost
                                                        1741          $139
         Power Usage (kW hr/yr/computer)


                                                                                                                                               Cost (Cost/yr/Computer)

                                                                                    1138          $91                                    100

                                           1000                                                                   934        $75         80




                                                0                                                                                        0

                                                      MacLaughlin and OVC       Labs with 20 computers or      Faculty and Graduate
                                                           Libraries                       more                       Students

Figure 5: Energy Savings for Conservation plans and New Computer Equipment


        $1,200                                                                 $1,150
                                                                                                  24hrs/7days                8hrs/5days


                 $800                                                                                   $734



                 $200                                                                                          $125


                                                    Old CPU and CRT          New CPU and CRT       Old CPU and Flat       New CPU and Flat
                                                                                                         screen                   screen

5.0 Discussion

5.1 Statistical Analysis

5.1.1 Discussion for z -Test

No situation can ever be better than the best-case scenario and no data can ever be worse than the

worst-case scenario. The z-tests preformed in this paper were used to determine if computer

energy use on campus is actually running at a best or worst-case scenario.

Each of the best-case scenario z-tests resulted in z-values larger than their critical value. This

results in the rejection of the null hypothesis for all of the best-case scenario tests. Since the

statistical null hypothesis is rejected there is sufficient evidence to conclude that computer energy

use by computers in the laboratories, libraries and by all faculty and graduate students does not

run at a best-case scenario.

The z-tests performed to determine if computers on campus are following a worst-case scenario

resulted in a failure to reject the statistical null hypotheses. This resulted in sufficient evidence to

conclude that computers on campus do not run at the worst-case scenario.

These results show that the University of Guelph’s current energy use by computers does not

follow a best-case scenario. However, the results do show that energy consumption by computes

on campus does not represent a worst-case scenario.

5.1.2 Discussion for S-Plus

Using the statistical summaries of the S-Plus output for the analysis of Monday through Sunday

(7 day week), Monday through Friday (5 day work week) and Saturday and Sunday (weekend), it

was found that the percentage of computers on during the day exceeded the percentage of

computers on at night. For example, during the 7 day week, 16% more computers were turned on

in the morning and 19% more computers were turned on in the afternoon than in the evening.

However, the percentage of computers on in the morning was always less than the percentage of

computers on in the afternoon. The average number of computers on for each time period is

lower during the weekend period and higher during the work week period. The lower

percentages of computers on in the evenings and over the entire weekend is most likely attributed

to the fact that the Richards Building’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8:30

am to 4:30 pm.

Only three different times over a 24 hr period were monitored in this experiment to determine

when a computer was on. In the raw data, it was found that 19.2% of computers were turned on

at each of the three monitoring times for all seven days. This is a possible indicator that these

computers were turned on for 24 hours through each of the days of the week. However, this

cannot be tested with confidence unless the computers were monitored every second of the day

for the 1 week monitoring period.

Without the use of statistical software it was determined that computers are used at least once

everyday of the week in the Richards Building. This shows that computers are important in an

academic setting. If an experiment were conducted to monitor computer use over a 24 hour

period for a number of consecutive years, it would be possible to determine if a significant

dependence for computer use increased with time. From the above analysis, results show that all

computers in the Richards Building do not run for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, therefore

computers are not running at a worst-case scenario.

5.2 Energy Consumption

The University of Guelph is currently operating between the best and worst-case scenarios, with

an overall tendency towards the best-case scenario. The University has approximately 50% LCD

monitors already in use, and is gradually increasing this percentage to keep pace with

technological demands. Furthermore, there are already some conservation plans in use, since

most computers are not on for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

5.2.1 Faculty and Graduate Students

Faculty and graduate students were found to use the most computers on campus, and therefore

consumed the most energy. However, the energy consumed per computer by faculty and

graduate students was lower than energy consumed by computers in the laboratories and libraries.

This is could be attributed to the fact that laboratories and libraries leave their computers active

for longer established hours than faculty and graduate student. Also, the libraries and

laboratories facilitate the frequent use of computers by many users; therefore these computers

may not enter a low power mode as often.

5.2.2 Computer Laboratories

Laboratories were found to be mid-range in terms of overall and per computer energy

consumption, when compared with libraries and faculty/graduate students (Figure 4). This is

most likely due to the fact that each laboratory has different hours of operation. Another reason

that laboratories fell in the mid-range of energy consumption is because these computers are less

active than the library computers but more active than those of faculty and graduate students.

5.2.3 Libraries

The libraries consume less energy compared to the laboratories and faculty and graduate students.

However, they consume the most energy per computer because, although the libraries have a

large majority of LCD monitors (50% LCD, 50% CRT), they are on for one of the longest time

intervals. Although the OVC library currently applies conservation strategies, it only comprises

of 9% of total library computers, and does not compensate for the MacLaughlin library

computers being on 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Although the cost savings for the best-case scenario were large there was no consideration for

initial cost of procuring new LCD monitors and CPUs. This lack of consideration will likely

lower the cost savings.

5.3 Computer Equipment Purchasing Guidelines

In addition to investigating computer usage at the University of Guelph, the procurement and

disposal practices were also examined. This was carried out in order to assess the University’s

environmental impact, and to determine if green procurement and environmentally sound end-of-

life management practices have been put into place.

In terms of computer acquisition strategies, there are currently no green procurement procedures

being used by the University in guiding computer purchasing decisions. Current policies are

based upon pricing structure, and are derived from contracts with the set of preferred vendors

listed below (Loo, 2005):

•   Apple Canada

•   Audcomp Computer Systems

•   Computer Hardware Services Inc.

•   Dell Canada

•   First Avenue Information Systems Inc.

•   Kerr Norton

•   Onward Computer Systems

This list is comprised of both manufacturers and re-sellers. Manufacturers can often be evaluated

in terms of their environmental performance, as certain companies document their dedication to

environmental stewardship (Dell 2005, Apple 2005). Resellers often sell products from a wide

variety of manufacturers, therefore, it is often difficult to determine if products meet certain

environmental criteria.

One main problem that affected this study was the lack of centralized data concerning computer

procurement at the University. A budget for computer information technology is allotted in the

form of a lump sum, which is to be managed over a period of several years. This money is

allocated by Purchasing Services to specific departments as funding is required. There are

currently no records kept by Purchasing Services about computers purchased, their

manufacturers, and quantities of computers acquired. Without such records, and the potentially

varying environmental policies between vendors, the task of comparing current computer

procurement strategies with desired green procurement, could become problematic.

As purchasing decisions are made by individual departments, it is important to investigate how

departments acquire their computers, as there are currently no green procurement guidelines in

place to direct departments in their purchasing. Most purchasing decisions were based primarily

upon pricing structure, with any green procurement strategies taken only as a secondary

consideration (Loo, 2005).

5.4 Computer Equipment Disposal Guidelines

In Canada, only 50% of high-tech electronic equipment is reused or recycled (Globe and Mail,

2001). The remainder is either disposed of in landfills or incinerated, thus releasing toxic

substances into the environment. Currently in Canada, there is no legislation that requires

producers to take-back and properly recycle used, un-wanted equipment (Globe and Mail, 2001).

Unfortunately, this trend is strongly reflected by the University of Guelph’s computer recycling


While there is no official computer reuse strategy being implemented on campus, computers that

are no longer wanted by one department can be received by another department. It is only when

computers are unable to run the necessary software required by any of the departments, that they

are slated for end of life management.

The University of Guelph’s current end of life management strategy for used computer systems

was initiated in 2002; however, it is still small and practically unknown. The procedure is

facilitated by the Recycling and Waste Co-ordinator who requires small pick-ups (less than 12

units) to be brought to MacKinnon loading docks (MacKinnon 009), while larger pick-ups

(greater than 12 units) can be gathered directly from their source (Maurice, 2005). CRT monitors

are not accepted for pick-up, and for larger pick-ups, exact quantities of the various materials

available must be expressed prior to their removal. A complete out-line of the current system at

the University of Guelph is available in Appendix 4.

The University currently donates all used PCs to a company in Fergus Ontario named Production

Works Co-op, which operates out of the community living centre of Guelph-Wellington

(Maurice, 2005). At this site, approximately 30 developmentally challenged community

members are employed to dismantle component parts, which are then sold to two local recycling

companies: Hi Tech Recycling (Canada) Ltd and Joseph & Company (Dano, 2005). The

dismantling of computers and other electronics (no CRT monitors are accepted) is carried out in a

manner that is safe for the workers as well as the environment. Through Production Works Co-

op, people with intellectual disabilities are also provided with valuable training and experiences

in the workplace and business community. Production Works Co-op also ensures that both

companies which purchase its materials carry out recycling processes using the most

environmentally sound methods possible (Dano, 2005). The members of Production Works Co-

op are also the workers, owners and decision makers of the company. The Co-op charges the

University no fees except for the cost of transportation at a rate of CDN $ 0.38 per kilometre

(Dano, 2005). Unfortunately, while most materials are sent elsewhere for further recycling,

Production Works Co-op must deal with wastes in the form of plastics; which are subsequently

disposed of in landfills (Dano, 2005).

Both Hi tech Recycling and Joseph & Company are local; based in Toronto and Kitchener,

respectively. At Hi Tech Recycling, 300 to 500 computers are recycled everyday, and their

metals, such as aluminum, copper and silver are recovered and valued between CDN $ 1.59- 2.50

per machine (Globe and Mail, 2001).

The main problems associated with the disposal of used computer systems at the University of

Guelph, stem from insufficient knowledge and communication. An overall campus-wide lack of

knowledge regarding proper disposal methods and their locations, directly relate to a lack of

communication within and between departments regarding these topics. There are a few areas in

which the University of Guelph’s current computer disposal system can be improved. Firstly,

because there is no streamlined computer disposal policy, there is no organizational structure to

facilitate proper disposal through this program. Secondly, there is no way to evaluate the success

of this program, as there are no records regarding quantity of donations to Production Works Co-

op. The only estimate obtained regarding current volumes equate to one van load every two

months (Dano, 2005). The increasing environmental problems associated with the disposal of

electronic equipment, indicates that there is a growing need to maximize waste diversion to

recovery services such as Production Works Co-op.

6.0 Recommendations

6.1 Purchasing Computer Equipment

The findings of this report have provided important insight into current computer procurement

practices at the University of Guelph as well as, strategies that have been developed at other

institutions such as the University of Manitoba. From this, a number of recommendations were

formulated that could be implemented by the University of Guelph. These recommendations

would work towards achieving benefits in terms of cost savings in the form of improved energy

efficiency, as well as the minimization of environmental impacts.

Green Procurement Guidelines

The development of a set of green procurement guidelines for computers at the University of

Guelph is needed. Examples of these guidelines are readily available from a variety of

organizations and can be adapted to fit within the context of the University’s purchasing policy.

The University of Guelph should set purchasing guidelines that include:

       Giving preference to products with ecolabels that are: energy efficient, upgradeable, and

       contain recycled materials

       Buying products from suppliers which offer a take-back or trade-in program

       Purchasing products in bulk in order to minimize wastes from packaging which use

       minimal packaging

       Encourage efficient reuse, refurbishment or recycling by the purchasing equipment that is

       easily dismantled

Implementation of these guidelines through the Purchasing Services department would allow for

a uniform adoption in all areas of the University, whether it is administration, computer

laboratories, faculty, graduate students or staff. Implementation at a departmental level would

also be valuable, as it would raise the overall awareness of procurement guidelines in the

University community.

The evaluation of the current set of preferred vendors for conformity to the green procurement

guidelines is needed. In the case of nonconformity, the economic feasibility of phasing out these

vendors in favour of vendors agreeing to operate within green procurement guidelines must be


Lastly, the University should establish records of computer purchases, including the number and

types of purchased computers, such that there can be documentation of the use of green

procurement strategies, and an evaluation of its success can be made.

As the University of Guelph faces current budget challenges, the need to conserve and reduce

expenditures is apparent. The implementation of the suggested green procurement strategies may

act as significant aids in reducing these challenges, while further contributing to the University’s

excellent reputation as an environmentally conscientious institution.

6.2 Energy Saving Strategies

The results of this study have indicated that conservation plans were found to contribute the most

to energy savings compared to replacing current computer equipment with new computer

equipment. The following recommendations will outline how the University of Guelph could

increase their energy savings in computer laboratories, libraries and by faculty and graduate


6.2.1 Computer Laboratories and Libraries


Computer systems consist of two main components that draw power, the monitor and the actual

computer system itself. To reduce the amount of power consumed by monitors, we recommend

that power management options, which are available for the majority of monitors, be activated.

The power management setting of the monitor should be set so that if the system is inactive for

ten minutes or longer, the monitor will go into the low powered sleep mode. Activating monitor

power management can reduce power consumption by 60 to 90 W, a savings of up to $55 per

computer each year (US EPA, 2005). The activation of power management for a computer

monitor causes practically no problems for the system or network (US EPA, 2005). The screen

saver options for computer monitors should not be activated for two reasons. Firstly, screen

savers do not reduce the amount of power consumed by the computer system (Hewlett-Packard,

2005). Secondly, if the computer has a low power setting option which has been activated,

complex screen saver graphics may require enough processing power to bring the computer out

of sleep mode (Nordman, 1997).

For extended periods of non-use, such as over night or weekends, computer monitors which will

be not be in use for these periods should be turned off completely. The reason for this is that

even in a sleep mode the monitor continues to draw power, and when aggregated over an entire

year this could constitute a significant amount of energy use and costs (Lebot, 2000).


As of 1996, approximately 70% of all computer sold have power management capabilities

(Nordman, 1997). However, presently this figure is most likely higher. The implementation of

power management for CPUs can reduce overall power consumption by an additional 40 to 90

W, a savings of about $45 per CPU each year (US EPA, 2005). It is recommended that these

power management options be activated, since they are feasible. However, unlike computer

monitors, the CPU can have some difficulties with low power settings. According to Norman

(1997) CPUs on a network will receive routine messages from the server, which requires the

client CPU to respond. If the CPU is in a low power setting and is unable to respond to the

server, it could cause network difficulties. Newer CPUs can handle these operations by having a

smart network card, which can send a message back to the server without bringing the whole

system out of the low powered state. Another characteristic of newer CPUs is that they can

partly awaken, handle the operation, and then resume a low power setting (Nordman, 1997).

These CPU power management options work best if the CPU is a Pentium IV running Windows

2000 or XP and the administrative updates are retrieved from the network by client machines (US

EPA, 2005).

6.2.2 Faculty and Graduate Students

Many of the recommendations made for computers in the laboratories and libraries can be

applied to faculty and graduate students, as well as, other staff at the University of Guelph.

Additionally we feel that the computers used by faculty and graduate students can be subjected to

more detailed power management strategies since these computers have fewer users. We

recommend that the CPUs and monitors be turned off during extended periods of non-use over an

hour (as long as the computer is not needed to perform a task). This will increase energy savings

because, as has been previously stated, even in low power settings CPU and monitors will

continue to draw power (Kawamoto, 2002).

6.3 Computer Equipment Disposal Methods

One basic recommendation for the remedy of the problem of poor interdepartmental

communication is the streamlining of all departments, laboratories and offices with respect to

proper computer disposal methods. If all faculty and staff are organized to dispose of their

computers in the same fashion, all used on-campus computers could be effectively dealt with in

the same environmentally conscientious manner. This could easily occur through increased

promotion of the University’s current system via e-mail, written word and awareness campaigns.

Keeping detailed records of working computers, as well as those which have been removed for

disposal, and their current locations, would allow IT and office managers to further track their

machines and divert them into the on-campus disposal system, rather than allow them to simply

“disappear” in storage.

When the Recycling and Waste Management Coordinator first began the current computer

disposal system, it quickly became apparent the large quantity of on-campus computers that were

simply being stored rather than properly disposed of. Computer systems from the 1980s were

being and, continue to be, brought in for disposal, thus implying the need for an efficient

streamlined system (Maurice, 2005). The coordinator of Production Works Co-op has also

experienced the inconsistencies of the donation quantities from the University. The company has

suggested the need for a standard on-campus system as well, thus allowing for regular, rather

than sporadic pick-ups to be made (Dano, 2005).

The streamlining and expansion of the University of Guelph’s current on-campus computer

disposal system would not only result in the increase of profit and productivity for the workers at

Production Works Co-op, but ensure that all of the University’s discarded computers would be

dealt with in the same ecological manner. Unfortunately, this scenario still does not provide an

adequate means of monitor disposal. There are, however, certain new options that can be

explored in order to divert these toxic components from the landfill.

It is recommended that on-campus computers, which are still fully functional (both CPU and

monitor) be donated to such programs as Computers for Schools, so that they may continue to

provide service for libraries, school and non-profit organizations. Direct contact could even be

established between the University and local schools/organizations so that direct donations could

be made. Perhaps a website or community notice board could even be implemented to allow

faculty and staff to post the availability of functional computer systems for donation.

For computer systems, which are no longer functional, Logic Box Distribution Inc. appears to be

the best choice for recycling and refurbishment. The company accepts unlimited quantities of

electronic waste from any source, free of charge. In addition to monitors, Logic Box accepts

desktops, laptops, printers, keyboards, mice and other computer peripherals, as well as other

electronic equipment (BAN, 2005). Logic Box is also one of the three Canadian recycling

companies which adheres to the “Electronic Recycler’s Pledge of True Stewardship”, thus

ensuring it employs environmental and socially just practices (BAN, 2005). Currently, the

company stocks from 15 000 to 20 000 different products, and the goal is to increase this number

to 100 000 in order to satisfy consumer demand (Chezzi, 2002). Logic Box recently launched a

project in cooperation with several southern Ontario municipalities in order to efficiently and

effectively collect residential electronic waste (Chezzi, 2002). Unlike Production Works Co-op,

Logic Box does not provide any pick up services; however, used equipment can be delivered in

person or by train (BAN, 2005).

There are many aspects of computer recycling that are still elusive and currently somewhat

unattainable. The complete recycling of CRTs and plastic casings pose various environmental

problems due to high toxicities and difficulty in the separation of their chemical components

(Brennan et al., 2002). While some firms are researching the possibilities of using computer

plastics to produce fuel or sulphuric acid, these are simply preliminary theories, which require

extensive research.

The best option for effective computer disposal at the University of Guelph would make use of

various firms to ensure that all computer components are diverted from landfills in the greatest

amounts possible for the longest periods of time. Streamlining the disposal of unwanted, on-

campus computers so that all are gathered in a central, well-known location requires promotion,

education, communication and record keeping by those who are involved. Computers, which are

still functional, should be donated to local schools and organizations as to prolong their lifespan.

Systems which are no longer functional should be donated (without CRT monitors) to the local

initiative Production Works Co-op in Fergus Ontario to support the workers, ensure that materials

are being handled in an environmentally conscientious manner, and cut down on fossil fuel

emissions during transportation. Monitors, and any other peripherals not accepted by Production

Works Co-op should be sent to Logic Box Distribution Inc. in Mississauga Ontario for either

refurbishment and re-selling, or recycling.

The catalyst for occurrence of this chain of events must manifest itself in the form of widespread

on-campus education and awareness programs regarding the various hazards associated with

landfill disposal, as well as the environmentally friendly methods available for disposal. The

proposed system can only be a success if a campus-wide effort is made to coordinate the disposal

of computers across all departments and offices. This requires communication, and above all, the

realization that positive actions will induce positive change, both on campus and within the

computer industry (Kuehr and Williams, 2003).

7.0 Conclusion

This study examined the University of Guelph’s current performance with regards to computer

acquisition, energy consumption, and disposal. In order to achieve this, the null hypothesis,

which states that the University of Guelph’s current practices will be the same as the best-case

scenario for energy consumption and cradle-to-cradle environmental efficiency, was tested.

With regards to the computer energy consumption at the University of Guelph, statistical

evidence was found to reject the null hypothesis. The results from our study were proved to be

statistically significant by our z-test, indicating that the University is not operating at the best-

case scenario, and in fact falls mid range between best and worst-case.

Testing the null hypothesis with regards to the green procurement and disposal of computers

proved to be more challenging because it was qualitative in nature. However, from the

information collected, there was sufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis. Currently, there

are no green procurement strategies or cradle-to-cradle considerations in place at the University

of Guelph. Departmental computer acquisition is primarily based on price, with little

consideration for environmental standards. An initiative is in place to donate unwanted systems,

however, there is no streamlining of this effort within, or between, departments. The lack of a

sufficient means of currently disposing of CRT monitors is further grounds to reject the null


While the University of Guelph is currently not operating within a best-case scenario, there is

room for optimism. This study placed the University's computer energy consumption at mid-

range between best and worst case; an encouraging result which indicates that the University is

on the path to improvement. By adhering to the listed recommendations, direct savings in the

form of reduced energy costs can be achieved. Suggested green procurement policies would give

incentives to industry to improve their environmental standards, as well as extend the lifespan of

functional, yet unwanted systems. Streamlined management of the University’s computer

wastes, especially with regards to CRT monitors, would help to alleviate the flow of hazardous

materials entering landfills, and reduce the risk of contamination by lead and other heavy metals.

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Appendix 1: Composition of a personal desktop computer

Based on a typical desktop computer, weighting ~70lbs (Handy and Harman Electronic Materials
Corp., 1999)
            (% of total      Recycling
Name        weight)          Efficiency         Use/Location
plastics            22.9907               20% includes organics, oxides other than silica
lead                 6.2988                5% metal joining, radiation shield/CRT, PWB
                                              structural, conductivity/housing, CRT, PWB,
aluminum            14.1723               80% connectors
germanium            0.0016                0% semiconductor/PWB
gallium              0.0013                0% semiconductor/PWB
                                              structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing,CRT,
iron                20.4712               80% PWB
tin                  1.0078               70% metal joining/PWB, CRT
copper               6.9287               90% conductivity/CRT, PWB, connectors
barium               0.0315                0% getter in vacuum tube/CRT
                                              structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing,CRT,
nickel               0.8503               80% PWB
zinc                 2.2046               60% battery, phosphor emitter/PWB, CRT
tantalum             0.0157                0% capacitors/PWB, power supply
indium               0.0016               60% transistor, rectifiers/PWB
vanadium             0.0002                0% red phosphor emitter/CRT
terbium                   0                0% green phosphor activator, dopant/CRT,PWB
beryllium            0.0157                0% thermal conductivity/PWB, connectors
gold                 0.0016               99% connectivity, conductivity/PWB, connectors
europium             0.0002                0% phosphor activator/PWB
titanium             0.0157                0% pigment, alloying agent/(aluminum) housing
ruthenium            0.0016               80% resistive circuit/PWB
                                              structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing,CRT,
cobalt               0.0157               85% PWB
palladium            0.0003               95% connectivity, conductivity/PWB, connectors
                                              structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing,CRT,
manganese            0.0315                0% PWB
silver               0.0189               98% conductivity/PWB, connectors
antinomy             0.0094                0% diodes/housing, PWB, CRT

bismuth     0.0063    0% wetting agent in thick film/PWB
chromium    0.0063    0% decorative, hardener/(steel) housing
                         battery, blu_green phosphor emitter/housing,
cadmium     0.0094    0% PWB, CRT
selenium    0.0016   70% rectifiers/PWB
niobium     0.0002    0% welding allow/housing
yttrium     0.0002    0% red phosphor emitter/CRT
rhodium         0    50% thick film conductor/PWB
platinum        0    95% thick film conductor/PWB
mercury     0.0022    0% batteries, switches/housing, PWB
arsenic     0.0013    0% doping agents in transistors/PWB
silica     24.8803    0% glass, solid state devices/CRT,PWB

Appendix 2: Eco-labelling Comparison

Desktop Computers
                                                                   European Union
                                                                  (Austria, Belgium,   Nordic Swan
                                                               Demark, Finland, France, (Norway,
                                         Blue Angel    TCO        Germany, Greece,       Finland,
                                         Germany*     Sweden        Ireland, Italy,      Sweden,
                                                                  Luxembourg, The       Denmark,
                                                                Netherlands, Portugal,   Iceland)
                                                                 Spain, Sweden, UK)
        Product take back                    X                           X                 X
Most plastic and metal parts bust be
 No glued or welded connections              X                                             X
         No metal inlays                                                 X

No metallic varnish, paint, or lacquer                  X

Must use at least 2% recycled glass
            in monitors

          Modular design                     X                           X                 X
           Up-gradable                       X                           X                 X
     Needs no special tools to
                                             X                           X                 X
    Has one or more empty slots              X                           X                 X

      No chlorinated solvents                                                              X
     No chlorine based plastics                                                            X
     No lead or cadmium based

 Energy (all 4 labels have slightly
  different criteria with regards to
 wattage and allowable time before
           modes change)
          Has sleep mode                     X                           X                 X
        Has deep sleep mode                  X                           X                 X

Must meet energy Star requirements           X                                             X


   Unit guaranteed for 3 years         X       X
 Spare parts availability - 5 years    X
        Monitor - 1 year                       X

        User Instructions

Must explain take back procedures      X       X

Must include hazmat explanations                   X

Must explain energy saving features    X       X   X

Must explain up-gradability options        X   X

 Must explain availability of spare
                                           X   X

          No cadmium                           X   X
             No lead                           X   X
    No chlorine based plastics                     X
No brominated flame retardants (on
                                           X   X   X
           parts >25g)
No chlorinated flame retardants (on
                                           X   X
           parts >25g)
Parts must include CAS# of flame
                                           X       X
         retardant used
   No halogenated polymers or
                                       X   X
 halogenated organic compounds

          No cadmium                   X   X       X
          No mercury                               X
 Must declare amount of mercury
  used in background lighting

     Manufacturing Process
     No chlorinated solvents               X

 Must adhere to Montreal Protocol          X

     No CFC, HFC, HCFC                             X
No carbon tetrachloride or 1, 1, 1 -

    Printed Circuit Boards
  No polybrominated biphenyls,
polybrominated diphenyl ethers or      X
      chlorinated paraffins

              No PCBs                                                                            X
* Blue Angel specifies no substances may be added to the plastics, which in TRGS 905, 900 or in the MAK-value-
List1 as amended, are classified as
    a. Carcinogenic according to EC Category Carc.Cat.1, Carc.2, or Carc.Cat3 or according to the MAK
         classification III1, III2 or III3;
    b. Mutagenic according to EC Category Mut.Cat.1, Mut.Cat.2 or Mut.Cat.3 or M1, M2 or M3;
    c. Teratogenic according to EC Category Repr.Cat1, Repr.Cat.2 or RE/F1, RE/F2 or RE/F3

(SVTC, 2005)

Appendix 3: Electronics Recycler’s Pledge of True Stewardship

We, the signing and registered recycling company, agree to uphold the following:
I. We will not allow any hazardous E-waste* we handle to be sent to solid waste (non-hazardous
waste) landfills or incinerators for disposal or energy recovery, either directly or through

II. Consistent with decisions of the international Basel Convention on the Control of
Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, we will not allow the export
of hazardous E-waste we handle to be exported from developed to developing countries** either
directly or through intermediaries.

III. We will not allow any E-waste we handle to be sent to prisons for recycling either directly or
through intermediaries.

IV. We assure that we have a certified, or otherwise comprehensive and comparable
“environmental management system” in place and our operation meets best practices.

V. We commit to ensuring that the entire recycling chain, including downstream intermediaries
and recovery operations such as smelters, are meeting all applicable environmental and health
regulations. Every effort will be made to only make use of those facilities (e.g. smelters), which
provide the most efficient and least polluting recovery services available globally.

VI. We agree to provide visible tracking of hazardous E-Waste throughout the product recycling
chain. The tracking information should show the final disposition of all hazardous waste
materials. If there is a concern about trade secrets, an independent auditor acceptable to parties
concerned can be used to verify compliance with this pledge.

VII. We agree to provide adequate assurance (e.g. bonds) to cover environmental and other costs
of the closure of our facility, and additionally to provide liability insurance for accidents and
incidents involving wastes under our control and ownership. Additionally we will ensure due
diligence throughout the product chain.

VIII. We agree to support Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs and/or legislation in
order to develop viable financing mechanisms for end-of-life that provides that all legitimate
electronic recycling companies have a stake in the process.

IX. We further agree to support design for environment and toxics use reduction programs and/or
legislation for electronic products.

* Following best interpretation of the definitions of the Basel Convention, “hazardous electronic waste” will for the purposes of this pledge
include circuit boards, CRTs as well as computers, monitors, peripherals, and other electronics containing circuit boards and/or CRTs. It will also
include mercury and PCB containing components, lamps and devices. The definition of “hazardous electronic waste” will not include

nonhazardous wastes such as copper unless it is contaminated with a Basel hazardous waste such as lead, cadmium, PCBs, mercury etc. The
definition of “hazardous electronic waste” includes non-working materials exported for repair unless assurances exist that hazardous components
(such as CRTs or circuit boards) will not be disposed of in the importing country as a result. The definition of “hazardous electronic waste” does
not include working equipment and parts that are certified as working, that are not intended for disposal or recycling, but for re-use and resale.
The term 'hazardous e-waste' as used in this Pledge does not pertain to, nor is synonymous with any current legal US definitions of 'hazardous
waste', but is meant for the purposes of this Pledge only.

** Following the definitions of the Basel Convention and its Basel Ban Amendment, developing countries are any country not
belonging to either the European Union, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or Liechtenstein. For a
complete list of OECD and EU countries see http://www.ban.org/country_status/country_status.html and find countries shaded in gray.

(BAN, 2005)

Appendix 4: Computer and Electronics Recycling
The disposal of obsolete computer equipment presents a growing problem to the IT industry. The
rate of production far outstrips the rate of recovery of waste materials in this sector. It is possible
to recycle outdated or non-functional computer equipment, but it must be done through a special
program. Electronic waste cannot go in the regular blue recycling bins around campus.

The University of Guelph runs a depot program for on-campus departments and users of
computer/electronic equipment. Items are sent via the Material Handlers to Production Works in
Fergus, a division of the Guelph-Wellington Association for Community Living, who
disassemble the equipment for recovery.

Please note: due to employee safety concerns, monitors/televisions/CRTs are not accepted for
recycling by Production Works. Working monitors in good condition may be acceptable for reuse
if clearly labelled as such.

Disposal Procedures

1) Take advantage of our unstaffed drop-off times Tuesday and Thursday between 2:30pm and
4:30pm at the MacKinnon loading dock (located on Trent Lane). Recommended for smaller
loads, and as a quick way to get the equipment out of your area. Please notify the Sustainability
Coordinator (ext. 58129 or recycle@pr.uoguelph.ca) if you have made a drop-off during these

2) For larger loads that can wait around longer, you can arrange for pick up by calling or emailing
the Sustainability Coordinator at ext. 58129 or recycle@pr.uoguelph.ca, with the following
a) type(s) of equipment
b) exact quantity of equipment
c) precise location of equipment
Example: 4 inkjet printers, 5 keyboards, 5 towers/hard drives and 1 box of miscellaneous parts in
room 054 FACS Building

For secure destruction of sensitive data, Valu-Shred, a company based in Mississauga, will take
larger quantities of properly packaged equipment. More information is available through their
website, www.valushred.com, and by our previous contact person, Mickey Dobran, 1-905-672-
6597 or cell phone 1-416-268-5249.

Computer Recycling Program - University of Guelph

Standard Procedure Information Sheet for Transportation Services

Note: We do not accept monitors and television sets (CRTs). All customers are notified of this policy, and
encouraged to make their own arrangements through local reuse outlets.

1 - Unstaffed drop-off for on-campus depot. MacKinnon (068) loading dock off Trent Lane.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:30-4:30.
    • Customers with small loads are encouraged to drop off materials during these times and
       notify the Recycling and Waste Management Coordinator (RWMC) by phone or email.
    • RWMC ensures removal to storage depot (009 MacKinnon)

2 - Small Pick-ups (under 12 units) - delivered to 009 MacKinnon
    • RWMC places Work Order for Material Handlers
    • Customer must specify amount and type of waste equipment, and exact location.
    • Equipment is removed from customer location, and brought to on-campus depot in 009
    • Material Handlers note numbers and types of equipment picked up on Work Order
    • When depot is full, RWMC places Work Order for equipment in depot to be delivered to
       Production Works Co-op.

3 - Large Pick-ups (12 units and over) - delivered directly to Production Works Co-op
    • RWMC places Work Order for Material Handlers
    • Customer must specify amount and type of waste equipment, and exact location.
    • Equipment is removed from customer location, and delivered directly to Production
        Works Co-op.
    • Material Handlers note numbers and types of equipment picked up on Work Order
    • A phone call 1 day in advance to Production Works is preferred, once the scheduled date
        for pick up is set by Transportation Services

Gillian Maurice (Recycling and Waste Management Coordinator)
ext. 58129 ; recycle@pr.uoguelph.ca

Brian Robinson (Custodial Services Supervisor)
ext. 58178 ; cell 220-8594 ; brian@pr.uoguelph.ca

Production Works Co-op (division of Community Living Guelph Wellington)
contact: Shelley Dano (519) 787-1539 ext. 51; sdano@gwacl.on.ca

EMJ Datasystems Ltd. (Backup location for computer recycling)
contact: Mike Hall (519) 837-2444

Appendix 5: Sampling Sites


                              8        9   5
                                   4               7
                                  3            1

1. CropScience
2. Graham Hall
3. Hutt
4. MacNaughton
5. McKinnon
6. OVC Microlab
7. Powell
8. Thornbrough and Renyolds
9. MacLaughlin Library
10. OVC Library

Appendix 6: S-Plus Statistical Summaries for all Monitoring Times
in Richards Building
***   Summary Statistics for data in:        Monday through Sunday

            10:00      14:00      19:00
     Min:   29.17000   30.00000   26.67000
 1st Qu.:   42.08500   45.41500   28.75000
    Mean:   48.59856   52.26143   33.45143
  Median:   55.00000   59.17000   30.00000
 3rd Qu.:   55.41650   61.25000   30.83000
     Max:   61.01690   63.33000   58.33000
 Total N:    7.00000    7.00000    7.00000
   NA's :    0.00000    0.00000    0.00000
Std Dev.:   12.70023   14.47911   11.06908

***   Summary Statistics for data in:        Monday through Friday

          10:00     14:00     19:00
     Min: 52.500000 58.330000 26.6700
 1st Qu.: 55.000000 59.170000 30.0000
   Mean: 55.870000 60.666000 35.3320
  Median: 55.000000 60.000000 30.8300
 3rd Qu.: 55.830000 62.500000 30.8300
     Max: 61.020000 63.330000 58.3300
 Total N: 5.000000 5.000000 5.0000
   NA's : 0.000000 0.000000 0.0000
Std Dev.: 3.138264 2.156323 12.9702

***   Summary Statistics for data in:        Saturday and Sunday

            10:00       14:00       19:00
     Min:   29.170000   30.000000   28.3300000
 1st Qu.:   29.795000   30.625000   28.5400000
    Mean:   30.420000   31.250000   28.7500000
  Median:   30.420000   31.250000   28.7500000
 3rd Qu.:   31.045000   31.875000   28.9600000
     Max:   31.670000   32.500000   29.1700000
 Total N:    2.000000    2.000000    2.0000000
   NA's :    0.000000    0.000000    0.0000000
Std Dev.:    1.767767    1.767767    0.5939697

 Appendix 7: Energy Consumption Raw Data

 Table 1: Current Energy Use

                                                                           Total energy
                      # of                    Average     Standby   Days
    Location                    CRT    Flat                                  use/year     Cost ($)
                    Computers                 use (hrs)     (hrs)   open
Crop Science           35       35      0       13.5       10.5      7        50,450       4,036
Graham Hall            25       25      0       13.5       10.5      7        36,036       2,883
Hutt                   68       68      0        24         0        7       160,393      12,831
MacNaughton            66       66      0       13.5         0       7        87,567       7,005
McKinnon               60       60      0       13.5         0       6        68,234       5,459
OVC Microlab           50       50      0        12         12       7        65,520       5,242
Powell                 35       35      0         9          0       5        22,113       1,769
                       350      35     315       12         12       7       293,530      23,482
and Renyolds
                       264      119    145       24          0       7       470,486      37,639
OVC Library            25        25     0        12         12       7       32,760        2,621
Faculty and
                      2834      1417   1417     9.5          0       7      2,645,992     211,679
Graduate Students
Total                 3812      1935   1877    156.5        57       74     3,933,082     314,647

 Table 2: Best-case Scenario for Energy Use

                                                                           Total energy
                      # of                    Average     Standby   Days
                                CRT    Flat                                  use/year     Cost ($)
                    Computers                 use (hrs)     (hrs)   open
Crop Science           35        0      35      6.75       6.75      5        8,907         713
Graham Hall            25        0      25      6.75       6.75      5        6,362         509
Hutt                   68        0      68      6.75       6.75      5        17,304       1,384
MacNaughton            66        0      66      6.75       6.75      5        16,795       1,344
McKinnon               60        0      60      6.75       6.75      6        18,322       1,466
OVC Microlab           50        0      50      7.75       7.75      7        20,452       1,636
Powell                 35        0      35       4.5        4.5      5        5,938         475
Thornbrough and
                       350       0     350       12          9       7       210,210      16,817
                       264       0     264       9.5        9.5      7       132,372      10,590
OVC Library            25        0      25      7.75       7.75      7        10,226        818
Faculty and
                      2834       0     2834      8                   5       677,893      54,231
Graduate Students
Total                 3812       0     3812      83         72       64     1,124,782     89,983

 Table 3: Worst-case Scenario for Energy Use

                                                                            Total energy
                      # of                     Average     Standby   Days
    Location                    CRT    Flat                                   use/year     Cost ($)
                    Computers                  use (hrs)     (hrs)   open
Crop Science           35       35      0         24          0       7        82,555       6,604
Graham Hall            25       25      0         24          0       7        58,968      4,717
Hutt                   68       68      0         24          0       7       160,393      12,831
MacNaughton            66       66      0         24          0       7       155,676      12,454
McKinnon               60       60      0         24          0       7       141,523      11,322
OVC Microlab           50       50      0         24          0       7       117,936      9,435
Powell                 35       35      0         24          0       7        82,555      6,604
Thornbrough and
                       350      350     0         24          0       7       825,552      66,044
                       264      264     0         24          0       7       622,702      49,816
OVC Library            25        25     0         24          0       7       58,968        4,717
Faculty and
                      2834      2834    0         24          0       7      6,684,612     534,769
Graduate Students
Total                 3812      3812    0        264          0       77     8,991,441     719,315


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