GSA powers down to green up

Tuesday - 10/5/2010, 9:08am EDT

WFED's Jason Miller with GSA's Casey Coleman

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By Olivia Branco
Federal News Radio

The GSA is finding new ways to become more green when it comes to their information technology. As a part of Federal News Radio's Greening of Government series, Jason Miller caught up with GSA CIO, Casey Coleman, to talk about the new green initiatives.

Coleman explained the main initiative to make the technology at the GSA more green called the "power management initiative," which focuses on non-data center devices, such as personal computers and laptops.

The initiative looks at how employees are generating power to personal devices, and whether it is the most useful way. Coleman said many times people will not power down the devices, which uses up unnecessary energy. She noted there is a sense of impatience with waiting for a turned off device to turn on at the start of the day.

"People's time perception has changed," Coleman said. "We live in a faster paced world than ever. (People often think that) a machine that takes five to ten minutes takes too much, and I would have to agree with them, so our goal is to keep boot-up time to under five minutes, ideally at two to three."

Coleman talked about new software the GSA is using to make sure they are using energy properly.

"We're looking to employ, first of all a monitoring capability to get a baseline of how much power we're consuming and then start to implement power management in a way that works for the employees," Coleman said. "(We're not looking to turn laptops off at 5pm, but rather looking to understand usage patterns and then be able to put devices in sleep mode, or power down, or hibernate based on usage patterns and the times that it makes sense."

While it might be easier to simply turn off computers and laptops each night, Coleman again pointed to the general impatience.

"In a perfect world (turning off devices each night) might be what we would do but people might not remember to do that. It's a culture change," said Coleman.

Besides the power management initiative, the GSA is also utilizing some near-term initiatives to help make the office more green.

"Some (of the aspects) that are a part of the strategic plan, have to do with things like employing enhanced video teleconferencing to reduce the need to travel so much to meetings to be much more collaborative and effectively work together across geographies," Coleman said. "We're also employing voice over internet protocol so we're going to have the ability to do more with those phones. It gives you desktop video conferencing and it will eventually lead to unified communications. So there's productivity enhancements. There's also a green benefit because it supports the virtual, mobile, telework, get-of-the-highway approach."