Graduation Date

Spring 2017

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Environmental Systems, option Environmental Resources Engineering

First Committee Member Name

Dr. Arne Jacobson

First Committee Member Email

First Committee Member Affililation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Peter Alstone

Second Committee Member Email

Second Committee Member Affililation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Computers and Technology in Education


Computers consume an estimated 5,610 GWh per year in California alone. Much of that energy is consumed by computers that are not being used. In this project, detailed user login data are used to estimate the energy consumption of instructional computers at Humboldt State University (HSU) over the course of one semester. The data are also used to estimate the potential energy savings from automating the shutdown process. Potential cost savings and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions resulting from implementing an automatic-shutdown power management plan are also calculated.

There are approximately 1,000 computers used for teaching and learning purposes at HSU. In their current configuration, they consume an estimated 35.4 MWh each semester. However, 56% of that energy is wasted, powering computers that are not being used. By automatically powering down unused computers after 30 minutes of inactivity, significant energy, cost, and GHG emissions reductions could be realized. Energy consumption could be reduced by 45% or 15.9 MWh per semester, saving $1,935 in electricity costs. Consequently, GHG emissions could be reduced by four metric tons per semester, with little to no additional costs and minimal impact to users.

Citation Style


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Project Location