Server Virtualization and Energy Efficient Computers

The Technology and Learning Services (TLS) office at the Augustana Campus, University of Alberta is currently leading the way with their energy reduction efforts. Since 2009, TLS has helped this small campus reduce its energy draw by 157 000 kWh per year.  This effort alone has saved the University $15,411.12 annually (at a rate of $98.16/MWh).  These initiatives could easily be replicated university-wide and beyond.

How have we done it?


By migrating our physical servers into a virtual infrastructure, we have:

  • Substantially decreased our power usage (157 000 kWh per year – the average Alberta home used 600kWh/month);
  • Consolidated the amount of hardware required.  As a result, we have:
    • optimized our server usage and space
    • saved money, as there is less hardware to purchase;
    • reduced the amount of annual eWaste, as there is less hardware to dispose of when the technology needs to be refreshed;
    • decreased our space usage from 3 server rooms to 1;
  • Decreased our air cooling demands from 21 to 17 degrees Celsius;
  • Dropped server power consumption from over 10,000W to under 5,000W

Note: In one year (from 2010 to 2011) we have increased the number of virtual servers by roughly 26%, however power consumption has increased by less than 1%.

More efficient Desktop Computers

As an Academic Institution we have a lot of desktop computers for our faculty, staff and students.  In 2009, our TLS staff started testing computers for energy efficiency.  Now, our computers are replaced on a 4-year cycle with some of the most energy efficient computers on the market.  In 2009, our 2005 models, which used 145Watts per hour, were replaced with 2009 models that required only 58Watts per hour.  Multiply this by 75 computers and the savings are considerable!  With new and improved Desktop efficiencies on the horizon, we will see a greater reduction in our Energy footprint every year. 


Signature Solar Project

A photo of former Dean Roger Epp preparing to unveil a solar panel
Former Dean Roger Epp prepares to unveil 1 of 10 solar panels.

On May 25, 2010, Augustana unveiled 10 solar-thermal panels on the roof of our Convocation Centre.  The panels will end up relieving 20 to 30 per cent of the Cafeteria and Gym's water-heating requirements that formerly relied exclusively on non-renewable sources.

This project speaks to the triple bottom line of sustainability: environmental, economic and social sustainability.  The use of this viable, renewable resource is one of the environmental benefits of such a project. Economic benefits will be seen as soon as the energy savings exceed the capital cost of the project. Finally, as an academic institution there is great potential for learning from this technology and leading by example within our community and beyond. With this project and many others like it, Augustana is demonstrating its commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.    

Funds for the project came from a number of sources. These include private donations to the Augustana Sustainability Fund and significant support from Viessmann Solar Systems. Further, the Class of 2010, having spent four years on this campus, wanted to leave a legacy at Augustana and donated to the project as well.

Tech Savvy

A university houses a number of technologies that can draw an immense amount of electricity.  It is important to evaluate how energy intensive these technologies can be over the course of their operational lifetime.  The Technology and Learning Services department at Augustana has undertaken a significant technology refresh and consequently has made upgrades in a number of areas, including: printing, desktop computers, servers and server cooling.  Making such changes not only reduces the ecological footprint of the campus, it is economically viable as well.

Memory Sticks

In an effort to reduce our paper usage at Augustana, each student was provided with a USB memory stick at the Fall 2009 Registration.  

Remember:Save more than you print.  When you do print, use recycled paper, FSC certified paper and/or chose to print double-sided.