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Green IT

New IT building: What is a place of work?

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Our fairly intensive participation in the design process for the new IT building got me thinking about what a place of work is and why a knowledge New IT building NW perspectiveorganisation, like an IT division, would have one. The new building is essentially an office building: it will not house technical infrastructure such as the data centre, but will be the place of work for the division’s engineers, system administrators, technicians, architects, analysts, software developers, managers, etc.

Besides the admittedly exciting “green” design features, such as the vertical garden, optimal orientation, solar PV panels, rainwater harvesting, bicycle store, and various other efficiency elements that will make it far more energy-efficient  and sustainable than other buildings of its type, the other intriguing possibility that it presents is the opportunity to influence change in the culture of the IT division. The catalyst for this “change of culture” could be the university’s new norms that require that all new office buildings be “open plan”. For an organisation that has become accustomed to being housed for the past 25 years in what can only be described as a “rabbit warren” of cellular offices leading off dark, desolate corridors, this is a radical departure. There seems to be much trepidation and negativity about our “open plan” future, some of which at least is simply related to humans’ default discomfort with change of any sort 1. (more…)

E-waste programme still going strong

Friday, May 24th, 2013

The IT Division’s e-waste programme continues to quietly do the right thing behind the scenes.

During the period July 2012 to April 2013, Cape e-Waste Recyclers, our e-waste contractors, removed the following items from the on-campus e-waste depot for responsible disposal and recycling:

  • 325 Computers
  • 162 Printers and Scanners
  • 269 Monitors
  • 3 boxes of general e-waste.

Remember, if you have any e-waste lying around at home or in your office, contact us and we’ll help you to get rid of it without harming the environment.

The procedures by which IT assets should be decommissioned and placed into the e-waste stream are detailed on the IT Help wiki: e-Waste Procedures.


Cybermeetings the way of the future?

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Chicken or beef? Just imagine not exposing yourself to dodgy airplane meals and lost luggage anymore? Nowadays there’s really little need to fly thousands of kilometeres for an one hour meeting. More and more businesses are starting to make use of virtual meetings to save money and to lighten their carbon footprint.

Ok, let’s start from the beginning. So what does the term carbon footprint actually mean?

Every human being has their own carbon footprint, whether you are an individual, part of a large corporation or a manufacturer of goods. Your daily activities and everything you do has an impact on the environment. Your carbon footprint is a measure of this impact and can be calculated based on your food, travel, purchases and how you deal with waste. (If you want to find out what yours is, use the Carbon Footprint Calculator)

There are many ways of reducing your carbon footprint and making sure you tread lightly every day. Conferences and meetings are just two of these.

Ask yourself whether it’s really necessary to attend the meeting or conference? According to Dave Rochlin of ClimatePath most events can generate more than a ton of CO2 per attendee. This includes air travel (about 90% of the carbon footprint), paper usage, conference material and catering. According to research done by ClimatePath a conference’s carbon footprint can be reduced by 90 percent by hosting the meeting virtually. One company, Manpower, avoided 400,000 pounds of CO2 emissions by holding its annual Global Leadership Team meeting virtually, which reduced air travel by one million miles!

Modern technologies such as video conferencing can help lower the carbon footprint of meetings. An initial investment in tele- and video-conferencing facilities will reduce the need for flights saving money, time and carbon emissions. But the installation of possibly expensive technology isn’t a necessity. A virtual meeting can easily be conducted via Skype within an hour – the same meeting in a different location would’ve been more costly and time-consuming as well.

If it’s not possible to conduct a meeting via video conferencing, some measures can still be taken to lessen the impact on the environment. Some handy hints on conferencing can be found on The National Conference Centre’s blog so next time you attend a conference, make sure you tread lightly.


Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Electronic waste (e-waste) or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) are the terms used to describe old, end-of-life or discarded appliances using electricity. It includes computers, consumer electronics, batteries etc. which have been disposed of by their original users. 

E-waste is of concern largely due to the toxicity of some of the substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and a number of other substances which are harmful to human health and ecosystems if not disposed of properly. When e-waste breaks down either as litter or in improper landfills, the toxic mix can leak into surface and ground waters. The material that the products are made from can be recycled to get raw material that can be reused, meaning less energy (and carbon emissions) is required in the manufacturing, mining and processing.

The unsustainably rapid turnover of discarded electronics and computer technology is another reason for the need to recycle – or even better, re-use – e-waste.

More information:

What will happen to the e-Waste?

The contractors will separate the waste into items that

  • can be refurbished,
  • can be recycled and
  • must be safely disposed of.

Refurbishment of appliances and computers provides jobs and these items are then reused in needy schools and communities. Useful, scarce and valuable metals and other substances are extracted by recycling, while toxic e-waste is disposed of in special hazardous waste facilities. Examples of potentially toxic items include the old type of computer screens (CRT) and fluorescent tubes.

Some fast facts

Currently the University purchases on average 500 new computers per annum (without significant growth in inventory), implying that the annual e-waste stream is of a similar magnitude. At any one time 8000 PCs exist on campus, with up to 5000 more in student residences. If one considers that PCs are usually replaced on a 4 to 5-year cycle, the resulting e-waste stream could in fact be far larger.

The IT Division’s TAS division alone disposes of 300-400 lead acid batteries per annum. 

To save you from your own e-clutter, you can now dump all your unwanted e-waste at IT and we’ll get rid of it FOR you. For more information, click here.


Save a tree, read your email online

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Paper is often the major contributor to waste in the office, and it’s the easiest to recycle. The university typically consumes between 54 and 60 million sheets of paper per annum. That’s a lot of paper. Last year IT implemented a new printing management system and already the results are visible.


A few simple measures can make a huge difference in paper usage in your office.

1. Don’t print all your emails. There’s no need to print and file stacks of paper to read later. Rather organise your emails in folders and delete them when read. Consider including a “think before you print” message to your email signature to remind people.

2.  E-signing software allows you to email proposals, invoices and contracts to clients so that they can virtually and securely sign them, which vastly reduces the need for printed contracts.

3. If your printer isn’t set up to print 2 pages per sheet or print on both sides of the paper, follow these simple instructions to halve your office printing. Go to Print, click on Properties, and choose Page layout: 2 pages per sheet OR go to Print, click on Properties, click on Finishing and choose Print Style: 2-sided printing.

4. To use even less paper, change the margins on your word documents for more words on a page. Click on File, and choose Page set up and change the margins to 2 cm.

5. Buy recycled paper or paper from FSC certified sources. The FSC label ensure that the paper comes from responsible sources.

6. Put bins or boxes which are clearly signed in areas where people can deposit their paper, especially next to printers and copiers. Mondi offers a paper pick up in many areas. Visit to learn how to recycle your office’s e-waste.


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