Sustainable Credibility in Journalism: Campus Technology on ND’s Sustainability Efforts

The website of Campus Technology magazine has Part I (virtualization) and Part II (environmental sustainability) of an interview with our CIO, Gordon Wishon. This September’s print issue contains the interview as well.

The story involving sustainable credibility in journalism is in Part II of the interview where, according to Gordon Wishon, as interviewed by Campus Technology:

a.) Notre Dame has put a server rack at the local arboretum/greenhouse to recycle its heat output in order to help heat the arboretum in the winter. Sweet idea, but the devil’s in the details, which are missing from the article.

Does the server stay there all summer producing extra heat? How is the server cooled in that same hot summer? Are there really cost savings once the cooling in the summer is added in? The photo in the print issue shows a server sitting inside the greenhouse where visitors normally walk. How does the ND Office of Information Security view physical access to the servers? These questions and others are the questions the audience of Campus Technology asks.

b). Notre Dame has put another server rack at one of the local sewage treatment facilities. (This is probably a more secure environment than the arboretum. Not too many public tours. Access procedures (possibly?) in place because of high bacteria levels and other potential hazardous materials…). It seems that the city of South Bend transports the sewage, after some treatment, to a landfill, whereas if they had just a little more heat at a price less expensive than the transportation, they could turn that same by-product into safe and rich fertilizer. And sell it.

So the heat generated by the careful placement of a Notre Dame server rack potentially provides that inexpensive temperature boost that will enable the city to cost-effectively produce fertilizer, not landfill waste.

These pilot projects are ongoing. Perhaps details from Campus Technology will follow?

In the meantime, kudos to the Notre Dame student paper, The Observer, which, while not answering security questions (and indeed they do have a different audience perhaps not so interested in those answers), it does contain just enough more information to make these efforts (and their journalism) credible. At least I know someone has thought about how to cool the server racks.