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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.42
Liaison Beverley Ayeni
Submission Date Oct. 6, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Western University
IN-4: Innovation 4

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Stefanie De Adder
Sustainability Coordinator
Facilities Management
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

Since 2011, Western University has pursued the implementation of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in student labs across campus. The Virtual Desktop initiative involves having client desktops run as virtual machines on a centralized server. The goal of Western’s project was two fold:
• To deploy VDI into all labs managed by the central Information Technology Services (ITS) department (approximately 400 desktops);
• To provide a central infrastructure for individual faculties and departments to use for their own student lab VDI implementations.
Desktop virtualization can bring many advantages to both the users and the support staff, including the following:
• Software delivery: Since VDI is based on a central management model for desktop images and applications, it allows for fast deployment of new applications or updates to existing applications.
• Power savings: VDI enables the implementation of thin client technology, which can lead to significant cost savings for power and cooling, as well as hardware.
• Mobility: The same virtual desktop can be accessed from multiple locations via multiple devices.
• Potential man-power savings: Staff are no longer required to visit each workstation because of the central management.
• Enhanced security: All computing, processing and data stays within the data center, while only screen pixel changes are pushed to the client.
• License compliance: tracking licenses is much more efficient due to centralized management.

An additional innovative component of this technology is through the use of blade servers within the data centre. These servers have a much smaller footprint than traditional servers, which allows for more efficient power and cooling, as well as increased flexibility.

In the summer of 2012, infrastructure was installed, followed by a pilot project from January to April 2013 in one of ITS’ and one of the School of Engineering’s computer labs. Upon completion of a successful pilot project, an additional 110 virtual desktops were deployed, including further pilot implementations in four of Western’s libraries and a lab within the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, bringing the total to approximately 450 desktops.

This technology has made substantial progress over the years as technical issues have been resolved, efficiency has been increased, and more of the fiscal year’s budget has been allocated to VDI technology. It is anticipated that an additional 400-500 VDI systems will be deployed in the summer of 2014. While Western’s initial focus for VDI has been within student labs, ITS continues to assess the feasibility of this technology on an institution-wide level. VDI would be a good fit for staff that require a common desktop. For example, Caretakers within Facilities Management who work in many locations across campus but share a need for a common group of applications would be good candidates to use this technology. VDI could drastically simplify the management and increase the security of these desktops.


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

During the initial pilot in 2013, Western compared energy usage between a VDI student lab and a traditional student lab using PCs. The results did show a significant savings of approximately 24%. It is important to note that at that time the number of virtual desktops deployed was not fully utilizing the backend server/storage infrastructure. We are confident that these savings will increase as we increase the number of VDI desktops deployed and as a result increase the consolidation ratio per server.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum No
Research No
Campus Engagement Yes
Public Engagement No
Air & Climate No
Buildings No
Dining Services No
Energy Yes
Grounds No
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste No
Water No
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
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The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.