Beyond the Data Center
KPMG's IT team has taken the lead in driving green IT initiatives that go well beyond the data center. For example, IT pitched a 500 kW solar array to the real estate group for its Montvale, N.J., campus after sustainable IT leader Darren McGann heard a colleague at Microsoft discussing a solar project it had completed. The IT group also raised average operating temperatures to 79 degrees in its data centers after seeing a demonstration where Microsoft moved part of a data center into an outdoor tent to demonstrate the robustness of IT equipment. McGann claims that KPMG's data center was the first to generate power using gas micro turbine generators, and it reuses the waste heat in combination with absorption chillers to help cool the data center.
Gas-powered microturbines are more economical than fuel cells, but you still can't make the business case on energy savings alone, says Mingay. In most locations, you still need tax breaks, capital allowances or the policy tool known as "feed-in tariffs" to make them economically viable, although it can be more attractive in locations where natural gas is inexpensive.
IT is uniquely positioned to help make the business case for, and drive, other green initiatives that go beyond the data center, PCs and office automation equipment. At KPMG, for example, it was IT business process analysis and automation expertise that helped propel an initiative to create a paperless audit system.
Many companies have adopted virtualization-by-default policies, and IT needs to extend that to "design green by default," says McGann. It's easier to make the business case when starting fresh, because retrofits are more expensive. But it's also important to have a clear understanding of what sort of commitment management is making toward energy and carbon reduction and align projects to meet those strategic goals.
"Many projects will align with an energy reduction goal or a leadership commitment the CEO has made," he says. "And once you connect the dots you can get leadership to go forward."
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