Citigroup: Green-IT strategy extends to network wiring redesign

Ranked No. 2, this longtime green leader pushes the limits with a data center floor design to reduce copper and power use.

Citigroup is one of the granddaddies in the young world of green IT. In 2005, it launched its global data center strategy, with the goal of using only the most energy-efficient materials and technologies in its new data centers.

Today, the financial giant is on track to reach its 2011 target to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 10%, through a combination of energy-efficiency improvements, green building design, IT best practices and education. And in 2009, Citi saw its first-ever net reduction in data center power consumption -- a drop of 2%.

Indeed, Citi's three-year-old enterprisewide Sustainable Technology program -- which targets the five areas of power management, paper substitution, travel substitution, sustainable supply chains, and employee education and engagement -- today offers many best-practice lessons on green-IT governance and implementation. Its e-waste recycling program processes more than 80,000 disposals annually and in 2009 generated more than $600,000 in remunerations from salvageable equipment.

"We've taken it from an initial program that no one had heard about to one of the major points continually referenced by our senior leadership, including our CEO," says Michelle Erickson, initiative director of sustainability and research.

Like many green veterans, however, Citi has been inspired to dig deeper for even more innovative approaches, Erickson says. For example, it was the first company to buy the new water-cooled IBM z196 mainframe this summer, before the first generally available systems were even shipped. And its global desktop standardization initiative is expected to reduce its global carbon footprint by 3%.

But even more impressive is its "One Megawatt Challenge," a new initiative that involves redesigning the data center floor by relocating network switches to the server cabinet, using Cisco's Nexus products.

The anticipated result -- expected by the second quarter of 2011 -- is a significant reduction in the purchase and use of copper (from 72 long copper runs to just 12 fiber runs per cabinet) and a decrease of as much as 50% in power consumption.

"What stands out is the value of enterprisewide strategies and initiatives," says Mark Peters, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. "Across such huge organizations, just hoping for improvement is clearly not going to cut it."

Next: No. 3: State Street takes control of its PC power for annual savings of over $1 million.

Brandel is a Computerworld contributing writer. You can contact her at marybrandel@verizon.net.

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