Green Initiatives

Report: Energy Programs Driving IT Savings, But Fewer Execs Emphasize Efficiency

The majority of colleges and universities that have energy management strategies in place are experiencing cost savings as a result of their efforts. But, according to new research released this week, IT executives are de-emphasizing energy efficiency as a priority in their departments.

The research for the 2009 Energy Efficient IT Report was conducted by O'Keeffe & Co. for CDW-G. It involved surveys with hundreds of organizations across sectors, including K-12 school districts and higher education institutions.

It found that in higher education specifically, some 36 percent of institutions have an energy management policy in place, compared with 31 percent in 2008. (Owing to the margin of error in the research, ±8 percentage points for individual sectors and 3.6 percent overall, the difference between those two figures is statistically insignificant.) And among those that have "well defined and enforced programs or strategies to manage power demand and/or energy consumption in their IT departments," 54 percent said they have indeed actually reduced IT energy costs, compared with just 38 percent in the 2008 survey, well beyond the margin of error.

However, the researchers also pointed out that despite the the energy savings experienced by IT departments, only 21 percent of IT executives in higher education considered reducing energy to be "very important" compared with other projects. (Across all sectors, that figure was 26 percent, a decrease from 34 percent in 2008.)

"IT executives appear to be caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place," said CDW Vice President Mark Gambill, in a statement released to coincide with the report. "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."

Some other key findings include:

  • 53 percent of higher education institutions provide incentives for saving energy;
  • In 53 percent of cases, IT departments have been asked to reduce energy costs; and
  • In 2009, the emphasis has moved away from purchasing servers and computers with low-power processors toward coaching employees in their energy consumption practices and buying Energy Star devices.

The researchers suggested several courses of action for improving energy efficiency in IT departments and taking advantage of greater potential savings. Some of these included:

  • Focusing on systems using low-power processors;
  • Adopting network power management tools;
  • Managing cables to help reduce cooling costs; and
  • Implementing virtualization for servers and storage.

They also suggested tactics to help increase IT efficiency, including giving IT responsibility for energy management and providing incentives to the IT department to reduce energy costs.

The complete report, including mini-case studies and recommendations, is available for download at no charge here.

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