KPMG: Aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 25%

By employing everything from virtual servers to solar panels, this Big Four accounting firm, ranked No. 2, gets greener every year.

In the past 18 months, the IT group at KPMG has helped update and create new processes and workflows for the company's paper-, energy- and carbon-intensive systems.

These efforts included raising the ambient temperature in the data center to improve efficiency by more than 5%, raising the temperature of the water in the cooling tower to improve efficiency by 5% and migrating to blade server technology, with the average blade server consuming about 50% less power than a comparably configured rack-mounted server.

The New York-based audit, tax and advisory services firm is also in the midst of a data center transformation, incorporating an older, inefficient data center into its main facility. With this consolidation, KPMG anticipates saving about 15% in energy costs.

"At KPMG, the role of IT is to create new sources of value and improve the productivity of our business teams, using technologies that are powerful, flexible and efficient," says CIO Dick Anderson. "As we look to optimize our investments in IT, an important priority is our use of green technologies like server virtualization, and our energy-efficient data center heating and power systems to help optimize the efficiency of our solutions."

Toward that end, the firm is aggressively deploying virtual server technology. Its server farm is about 60% virtualized, which saves more than $1 million per year compared with a nonvirtualized environment. And with the IT department's leadership, KPMG is installing solar panels at its Montvale, N.J., campus, a project the company expects to complete this month.

Another IT-related effort is Green Travel Advisor, which was created in 2010 to encourage alternatives to travel. In its first year, the program achieved more than $2 million in travel cost savings, partly due to a 95% increase in the use of telepresence technology.

The green-IT efforts are part of KPMG's Living Green initiative, a program to encourage employees to adopt an environmentally responsible attitude at work, at home and in the community.

With Living Green, KPMG is focused on achieving measurable goals, such as a 25% reduction in carbon footprint, a 15% reduction in paper consumption and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for all newly constructed buildings.

"We're pleased with our Living Green results," says Steve Clemente, KPMG's principal in charge of operations services. "Living Green is a major pillar of our corporate responsibility agenda, and we're committed to affecting change in our business operations to minimize the firm's environmental profile, educating our people on sustainable behaviors, and continuing to focus on environmental stewardship in the communities where we operate."

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

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