CDW Report: Energy Efficient IT Yield Savings, Yet Millions Are Still Wasted (and Environment Harmed)

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Greg Galitzine
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CDW Report: Energy Efficient IT Yield Savings, Yet Millions Are Still Wasted (and Environment Harmed)

A new, and telling, report by CDW on energy efficient IT is at first glance is positive, that more firms are successfully doing more to boost energy efficiency, and those that do achieve savings that ultimately translate into fewer dangerous emissions from their operations. 

Yet the report also reveals that efficiency too often takes a back seat to other considerations like purchase price. A point that serves as a stark reminder that unless the costs and subsequent financial pain of pollution--and this blog has outlined them in spades--is felt by the users i.e. those who pollute directly and indirectly no real progress will be made to stabilize let alone clean up the environment.

Here are highlights:

"The survey found that organizations are doing more to improve energy efficiency in IT compared to 2008, and as a result, are realizing significant savings in their energy bills.  However, CDW also found that energy efficiency became less of a consideration in the IT purchase decision year-over-year, highlighting recessionary pressures to reduce equipment costs, even at the expense of greater, longer-term energy savings.   
"According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, energy use in the nation's data centers doubled between 2000 and 2006 and is projected to double again by 2011.  The Energy Efficient IT Report examines where energy efficiency ranks in IT decision-making priorities, along with improvements in IT energy efficiency and remaining challenges.  Additionally, the report identifies top strategies for IT energy reduction employed by organizations that successfully reduced their IT energy bills.  CDW surveyed IT executives in business, Federal, state and local government, and K-12 and higher education.
 "'IT executives appear to be caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place," said CDW Vice President Mark Gambill.  "Under extreme budget pressure in a recessionary economy, their No. 1 IT purchasing concern is the current cost of equipment and services, which can put a damper on efforts toward lowering total cost of operations.  While IT executives are trying to do the right thing - buy the best technology with the right capabilities at the best price - some may sacrifice greater long-term savings from reduced energy use by downgrading the importance of energy efficiency in the purchase equation."
"That said, CDW found that IT executives who are responsible for the IT energy bill take the longer-term view.  They are twice as likely to place high importance on energy efficiency in the purchasing process as executives who do not own the IT energy bill. 
"The 2009 CDW Energy Efficient IT Report revealed that 52 percent of IT professionals whose organizations have energy management initiatives successfully reduced their total IT energy costs, up from 39 percent in 2008.  Respondents reduced energy costs by focusing on energy efficiency in the purchase and management of IT equipment, employing measures including:

* Buying equipment with low-power/low-wattage processors
* Using network-based power management tools
* Using software tools within uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to monitor power demand and energy use
* Monitoring data centers remotely to keep lights off when employees are not on site
* Managing cable placement to reduce demand on cooling systems
* Implementing server and storage virtualization to reduce the number of servers and storage devices drawing power
"CDW's Energy Efficient IT Report found that industry and government are providing clearer information about what constitutes energy efficient IT equipment, enabling IT managers to make more-informed purchase decisions.  Eighty-three percent of respondents said energy efficient products are becoming easier to identify, and almost all said the ENERGY STAR® label is very important for identifying energy-efficient products. 
"In fact, although the Federal government's new ENERGY STAR® standard for servers is just three months old, two-thirds of IT executives with server procurement responsibility said they were familiar with the standard, and more than 90 percent of all survey respondents said their next server purchase would likely be an ENERGY STAR®-qualified product.  Further, 92 percent of respondents with access to utility rebates said they have become a significant incentive for investment in energy efficient IT.
"Despite reliable product information and real energy savings, just 26 percent of IT executives with procurement responsibility say energy efficiency is a very important consideration when purchasing new equipment - down from 34 percent in 2008.  Yet the potential savings from energy efficient IT is enormous.  In fact, respondents indicated that if they implemented all available energy-saving measures, they could reduce their annual IT energy bill by an estimated 17 percent.

The firms that get the message, and have, says CDW successfully increased IT energy efficiency employ three tactics:

* Ask IT to Manage:  Organizations that asked their IT department to reduce energy costs have seen significant results - 57 percent reduced costs by 1 percent or more vs. just 39 percent of organizations that did not ask IT to make a change

* Assign IT Responsibility:  Sixty percent of organizations in which the IT department is responsible for the amount and cost of energy used in IT operations have taken specific action to reduce energy consumption, compared to 24 percent of organizations without IT accountability

* Incent IT Success:  Organizations in which the IT department is incented to improve IT energy efficiency are more likely to make energy reduction a priority - 58 percent vs. just 30 percent of those who are not incented
"'Unfortunately, organizational leadership sometimes overlooks relatively straightforward ways to increase energy efficiency," Gambill said.  "Simply asking the IT department to reduce its energy costs yields hard dollar savings.  And incenting the IT department to reduce energy use - whether with financial, performance or other rewards - helps prioritize energy efficiency efforts.'"  

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