University Park, Pa. —

Firstly, electricity costs continue to skyrocket. However, executives around the country are searching for ways to cut energy consumption and increase sustainability. Therefore, at Penn State, a University-wide team has invested in software called BigFix. This’ll enable more efficient power management of computers. The software is part of an overarching systems management initiative. They say that could cut Penn State’s power bill by about $800,000 annually.

An institution’s most substantial consumption of power usually is heating and cooling of buildings. So energy consumed by office equipment can give much to an organization’s carbon footprint.

A recent report by Global Automation System Management said that there are over 104 million office PCs in the United States. So if one percent of those 104 million at least 31.2 million are left on all night. That’s a lot of money. So a typical 10,000 computer enterprise! You’re talking real numbers. One could save more than $165,000 per year by powering-down all of their machines every evening. Nationwide, there is the potential to save $1.72 billion. In addition and nearly 15 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually in the U.S.

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Credit: Patrick Mansell Graduate students in meteorology Ben Green, left, and Erin Munsell at the Joel N. Myers Weather Center in Walker Building on Penn State’s University Park campus. Software designed to ensure the highly efficient operation of computers has been deployed on more than 120 machines in the Department of Meteorology.

So, what are sustainability experts doing to solve the problem?

Katyl, who leads the Systems Management at Penn State initiative, said the philosophy behind the conservation project is simple: enable IT administrators to use BigFix software to place University computers into a low-energy sleep state when they’re not in use while simultaneously empowering them to remotely “wake up” and manage the machines when this needed. The initiative allows Penn State to give IT administrators with the tools needed to more efficiently update systems and keep computers secure, yet saves significant dollars each month at the power meter.

So then word spread about Systems Management at Penn State. Then several departments and administrative areas shared in the benefits. These include annual cost savings, one-time rebates and reduced carbon emissions. The software installed on 20,000 computers at Penn State. At top-efficiency, Katyl said the University could save at least $25 per computer per year, reducing Penn State’s power bill annually by about $800,000 (equal to preventing 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere). Through the use of aggressive power management settings, Penn State’s goal is to save $25 to $50 per machine per year.

In addition to the potential energy savings, BigFix’s streamlining capability appealed to faculty and staff in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, one of Penn State’s early adopters. Chuck Pavloski and Chad Bahrmann lead deploying BigFix software on about 125 machines in the newly renovated Joel N. Myers Weather Center and other Meteorology department areas. The center outfitted with high-end forecasting computers, a high-tech classroom and 36 workstations and monitors that showcase a variety of weather data and imagery, including live aerial images from major U.S. cities.

So it seems that combining BigFix with the Cooperative Lab Management (CLM) initiative, a Penn State program that provides a shortened computing environment for participating areas, has had multiple benefits.

Katyl said departments that use the CLM service can save an average of $56 per machine per year. That’s because of its aggressive BigFix power management settings. Across the University there are about 6,100 machines that have the CLM service. So he estimates the overall Cooperative Lab Management effort saves about $340,000 per year.

Currently, there are 25 administrative units participating in the Systems Management at Penn State initiative. That’s with the opportunity for every University group to join in the effort. Areas such as Health and Human Development and the Smeal College of Business are excelling in using the technology. That’s to increase security and efficiency. All while many other offices are showing interest in exploring power management options as a way to cut costs.

“Ideally, we want all of our departments and campuses to come together in this effort,” said Ford Stryker, associate vice president for Physical Plant. “I urge all students, faculty and staff to embrace the Systems Management at Penn State project and support the University’s green initiatives.”

BigFix was recently acquired by IBM and is now also called the Tivoli End Point Manager (TEM). To learn more about the Systems Management initiative at Penn State, visit Additional information on Penn State’s IT green initiatives is available at online.