Northrop Grumman: PCs, laptops and peripherals must meet green standards

This aerospace powerhouse, ranked No. 11, finds huge energy savings in IT equipment both big and small.

At Northrop GrummanCorp., environmental sustainability is part of the company's long-range strategic plans. The Los Angeles-based aerospace and electronics manufacturer's IT department is leading several green initiatives, including one called the Desktop Solutions Program, which launched in January.

As part of that effort, says Brad Furukawa, vice president and chief technology officer for strategy, architecture and integration, the IT group is using the Green Electronics Council's Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) as a guide when deploying PCs, laptops and peripherals. EPEAT gives products gold, silver or bronze ratings based on their environmental attributes. Northrop Grumman now buys only gold- and silver-rated products.

An IT refresh program that adheres to those purchasing guidelines is expected to yield power savings of 10%. The Desktop Solutions Program also addresses environmentally friendly disposal of replaced devices.

The energy consumption of distributed IT equipment adds up, says Doug Washburn, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. "On average, IT actually uses more energy outside of the data center than within it," he says. "We find that of IT's total energy footprint, 55% is consumed by distributed IT assets."

Northrop Grumman has also undertaken an effort to reduce the energy usage of desktop PCs, monitors and laptops. The company plans to use power management tools that will move devices to "significantly lower power states during nonuse hours, while waking them for after-hours maintenance activities," Furukawa says.

IT completed a pilot in June and expects to deploy this capability enterprisewide by year's end. It's expected to yield power savings of 21%.

In another IT-led initiative, the company is consolidating more than 100 major data centers and server rooms into three data centers. This will eliminate more than 26 million pounds of CO2 emissions annually -- the equivalent of planting 60,000 trees or removing 4,500 cars from the highways. Northrop Grumman began this effort in January and expects to complete it by 2013.

On top of all that, Northrop Grumman this year began virtualizing about 3,000 servers, reducing its server environment by 80% and cutting power consumption by an estimated 46%.

Next: No. 12 Marriott saves thousands of gallons of water with closed-loop chillers in the data center.

Violino is a freelance writer in Massapequa Park, N.Y. Reach him at bviolino@optonline.net.

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