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Sustainable Computing Policy

Colorado College, December 2003

Note: some procedures in this policy have been revised per the Computer and Peripheral Lifecycle Procedure.

Computers and related technology profoundly impact Colorado College, from learning and business processes to the budget and the environment. The concept of “sustainable computing” considers the total cost of ownership, the total impact, and the total benefit of technology systems. Consider:

  • All computer and server inventory growth has associated costs, including staff time and support, software licensing, and infrastructure support (bandwidth, servers, hubs, wiring, etc.).
  • All old inventory buildup comes with associated risks, including increased repair time, increased maintenance costs, security risks, and inefficient operation.
  • All computer growth, whether the equipment is new or old, requires planning for future lifecycle replacements of both the computer and the infrastructure supporting it, as well as environmentally responsible methods for disposing of old equipment.

The College should practice sustainable computing, using a policy which:

  • Directs new equipment purchases;
  • Maintains a reasonable lifecycle for computers, peripherals, and network equipment;
  • Limits inventory growth;
  • Governs energy-saving computer use;
  • Plans for future donation, recycling, and disposal of equipment.

The College’s computer and peripheral (printers, scanners, etc.) inventory has grown at a rate of 10-20% annually for at least the last six years. Currently, departments are individually responsible for tracking and updating all technology equipment, often leading to imbalances or oversights and, therefore, lost productivity and extra costs. Many other schools – and most corporations – centrally manage information technology resources to ensure that those resources receive adequate support, that everyone has relatively up-to-date and appropriate equipment, and that technology resources are purchased, employed and disposed of responsibly.

To that end, Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Information Technology Policy Board provide the purchasing, lifecycle, energy-use, and recycling policies below, to help the College consider long-term effects of technology decisions, plan efficient growth, and maintain a commitment to reducing waste.

Purchasing and Support

  1. Information Technology Services fully supports all standard, Colorado College-owned computers purchased through ITS within the last five years.1 Nonstandard, on-campus, College-owned computers will still be fully supported, if they received prior approval from the Equipment Committee,2 but nonstandard computers are exempt from the Help Desk’s 48-hour repair policy3 and may incur extra repair expenses. Full support includes assisting with and repairing the standard software and hardware installed on the computer when it was first delivered to the user, but it does not include assistance with subsequent software or hardware installations not performed by ITS
  2. All computers with the standard ITS software and hardware configuration that are purchased for home use through ITS with grant, faculty development or special project funds, will be fully supported, but users must bring the computers to the Help Desk for repair. The Help Desk provides limited support for all home users affiliated with the College, whether or not they have standard computers. Limited support includes phone and email assistance with connecting to the College network and giving advice and suggestions for troubleshooting.
  3. All off-campus computers varying from the standard image but purchased through ITS must have at least a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty, and all software and hardware support and repair will be entirely the manufacturer’s and user’s responsibility. The Colorado College bookstore provides discounted versions of College-licensed software, such as Microsoft Office, and users buying nonstandard computers should purchase additional software there or from another vendor. As with all home users, the Help Desk will provide limited phone and email support.
  4. Anyone wanting to purchase a nonstandard computer with College funds must consult with the vendor’s phone sales line or web site, generate an electronic or paper quote, and then give that quote to the ITS purchasing coordinator. ITS will then arrange the purchase and delivery.
  5. All peripherals (scanners, printers, etc.) and extra parts (monitors, external drives, etc.) purchased through ITS for on-campus use will receive Help Desk support for the duration of that peripheral’s or part’s warranty. ITS will attempt to standardize peripheral and part purchases so the College buys high-quality, consistent hardware with long-term warranties. Hardware and software support and repair of peripherals and extra parts purchased for off-campus or home use will be entirely the manufacturer’s and user’s responsibility. As with all home users, the Help Desk will provide limited phone and email support.

Lifecycle Replacement and Inventory Growth

  1. The College will maintain a four-year lifecycle for all College-owned computers and peripherals, ensuring that each computer, printer and scanner is replaced with a new system every three to five years, on average. The College Equipment Committee will manage a centralized budget pool to fund lifecycle replacements. Departments should request technology equipment from this pool, rather than the annual budget process.
  2. Because old computers become increasingly costly to service, all new computers or peripherals from the lifecycle pool must replace an existing system, but departments may “cascade” computers or peripherals (i.e., give a new computer to one user, give his/her used but still supported computer to another user, and remove the oldest system). Whenever one new computer or peripheral is delivered to a department, that department must give one old computer or peripheral, originally purchased by the College, back to ITS. Any equipment not returned constitutes a net addition and requires Equipment Committee approval. All old equipment will be donated or recycled, per the policies below.
  3. The Equipment Committee must approve all net additions to the inventory, excepting computers used to run lab equipment. Departments purchasing lab equipment computers should do so in consultation with ITS and the Equipment Committee. This committee also oversees any requests for new server capabilities.
  4. All net additions to the inventory approved by the committee must come out of department funds. The lifecycle pool must increase in proportion to all inventory growth.
  5. Before applying for grants or special project funding to purchase computer hardware or software requiring any ITS or College support, faculty or staff must fill out a project template and discuss it with the Equipment Committee and other relevant stakeholders. The project template addresses the total cost of ownership, including staff and infrastructure costs (overhead) required to support IT equipment and the cost of future lifecycle replacement, if the equipment will be renewed.
  6. Departments using computers to run lab equipment or instruments are exempt from the four-year average lifecycle policy, as well as review by the Equipment Committee. New computers running lab equipment must carry warranty support from the manufacturer. If old lab equipment computers fail, ITS will replace them with a computer otherwise intended for donation, provided one is available. ITS will replace, not repair, old computers.

Energy-Saving Computer Use

  1. All campus computers should employ built-in power-saving features such as Standby or Hibernate, sending them into a reduced power use mode after 30 minutes of inactivity.
  2. Computers should normally be powered off each night and turned on again in the morning, with standby or hibernate enabled to save power when not in use during the day (if they are not employing standby or hibernate modes, they should be powered off whenever they will not be needed for more than 20 minutes.) One computer left on for a year puts 1500 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere, and turning computers off or putting them to “sleep” reduces electricity consumption.
  3. Computer and technology equipment purchasing should prioritize energy-saving equipment, such as LCD (i.e., flat panel) monitors, which use half the power of a standard CRT display, and printers with built-in power save modes and double-sided printing capability. ITS will prioritize purchasing recyclable, environmentally friendly equipment and paper.

Recycling and Disposal

  1. Donations : ITS will donate or recycle all old computers and peripherals. ITS prioritizes donations as follows: (1) donation to non-profit educational institutions; (2) donation to other non-profit organizations; (3); gifts to for-profit organizations or companies committed to environmentally sound recycling or disposal.
  2. Recycling : If ITS cannot find institutions that will accept donations, or if computers or components are not functioning, ITS will give them to organizations or companies committed to repairing, selling or responsibly recycling or disposing of technology equipment.
  3. Other Computer Recycling : Due to the limited available space to store these systems this will occur once per block during the academic year.  Individuals should bring old computer equipment to the Help Desk for donation or recycling during the specified window of time each block.


1. The four “standard” configurations (Windows- or Macintosh-based desktops and laptops) are set annually by the Computer Selection Committee and approved by the Information Technology Policy Board.

2. The Equipment Committee is a subcommittee of the Information Technology Policy Board and is composed of the Associate Dean of the College, Director of ITS, Director of Auxiliary and Business Services, Director of Budget, Director of Purchasing, and one faculty member from the Board. Requests may be submitted to any member of the Equipment Committee or Information Technology Policy Board.

3. The Help Desk attempts to answer problem calls (anything which prevents basic operation of the computer, e.g., a bad monitor, computer virus, etc.) within 48 hours. We attempt to solve project tickets (e.g., installing new software, creating new accounts, etc.) within two weeks.

This is a working document and may be revised with the approval of the Information Technology Policy Board. 

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