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sustainable 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…)


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.


So you have a new cellphone …

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Around 44% of old cellphones are lying around unused. Between 65% and 80% of the material content of a cellphone can be recycled or re-used. Now you are able to deposit old cellphones at cellphone outlets in South Africa for recycling.

Vodacare has implemented an e-waste disposal process at its outlets (Somerset Mall, Tyger Valley, Canal Walk), and Nokia has placed e-waste bins at various other outlets (find them here). So take the opportunity to deliver your old, unused cellphones there.

Benchmarking “green IT” in universities

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Our peers in Australia (CAUDIT) have progressed much further with benchmarking IT between universities – including benchmarking on the sustainable IT or “green IT” front. South Africa’s equivalent HE IT association, ASAUDIT, has largely adopted CAUDIT’s benchmarking metrics. The Green IT benchmarking metrics are briefly discussed in this post.

Sustainable IT blog: Green IT vs real-world IT Practice?

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Is there a fit between so-called Green IT and real-world IT practice? Read the post here


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