I spent yesterday visiting the University of Notre Dame. (Fortunately, as it was Earth Day, I discovered I could take to train from Chicago.) I had interesting conversations with my host Doug Thain and many other talented faculty, and left impressed with the quality of the department.
I'll mention one fun thing I learned there: I happened to ask Paul Brenner from their Center for Research Computing whether they are incentivizing faculty to centralize research computers--a popular trend on college campuses. His surprising reply: "actually we're distributing computers, to provide heating!"
An article in the local paper desribed a pilot project involving an HPC cluster in the South Bend Potowatomi Greenhouses. The result is a significant reduction in both cooling expenditures for campus HPC and heating costs for the greenhouses--the latter alone being $100,000 per year.
Paul then described a fascinating idea: placing low-cost (but high-heat) "grid heating appliaces" (CPU+memory+network) in campus offices. Each such unit might cost $350 and consume 300W power--which at current electricity costs, would be ~$200/yr if the appliance ran continuously. By scheduling jobs only to cold rooms, a grid scheduler can do double duty as a source of both low-cost computing and free heating (or is it heating and free computing?).