The IT organization at Baker Hughes Inc. integrates green practices into all aspects of its operations, from developing new technologies to retiring old systems. The approach enables the Houston-based provider of oil and gas services to decrease energy consumption from IT equipment, says Karen Lane, global health safety and environmental and security process leader, who coordinates the company's green-IT efforts.
Initiatives that have contributed to improvements in energy efficiency include server virtualization, the implementation of PC power-saving software and the installation of energy-efficient servers and PCs and Energy Star-rated desktop monitors. Baker Hughes began these initiatives in 2008, reducing its CO2 emissions by an estimated 7,500 metric tons and saving $1.1 million in energy costs in the first year, according to Donnie Forehand, director of client computing services.
Another key project, Green High-Performance Computing, takes advantage of existing infrastructure and underused servers to perform large-scale computing jobs during off-peak nighttime hours. The technology wakes up and shuts down the computers to create "green supercomputing." The program makes it possible to deliver data analysis 35% faster and cuts energy use by up to 40%.
Yet another initiative, a managed print-services program launched this year, improves the efficiency of printing processes overall by curbing consumption of paper, power and printer materials. As part of the program, printers are consolidated and replaced with more energy-efficient models. The program is estimated to cut energy use by 20% to 25%, which translates into savings of $2.8 million each year.
The Baker Hughes IT team has partnered with the company's internal environmental unit, the Enterprise Sustainability and Environmental Affairs group, to advance green IT. "Through this partnership," Lane says, "IT has reduced our [systems'] energy consumption and established sound environmental practices for retiring and recycling used IT assets over the last several years."
By working with the environmental affairs team, IT has become more familiar with global programs such as the European Union's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, which holds manufacturers in Europe responsible for the disposal of electrical and electronic equipment.
Simon Mingay, an analyst at Gartner Inc., thinks having IT work with other units on green efforts is important. "I very much like the partnership with and contribution from the wider environmental and sustainability team," he says. "They can bring a perspective and expertise to the program that the IT organization often lacks."
Violino is a freelance writer in Massapequa Park, N.Y. Reach him at email@example.com.