Methodology: How we picked the 2011 Top Green-IT Organizations

For the fourth year in a row, Computerworld set out to identify organizations that are implementing smart, efficient strategies to achieve "green IT."

Organizations were invited to complete a comprehensive questionnaire online from June to August. The survey was sent out to the IT community through a variety of channels, including email newsletters, and email broadcasts. Seventy organizations participated.

Computerworld then contacted representatives at the participating organizations to verify that the information provided on the surveys was truthful and accurate. Only those organizations that filed verification letters were considered.

Computerworld then applied a set of criteria, developed with the help of green-IT industry experts, to identify the organizations that are working to reduce energy consumption by IT equipment and using technology to conserve energy and lower their carbon emissions. A separate list was created to showcase IT vendors and data center suppliers. Included in this category are hardware, software, networking, IT infrastructure and data center vendors.

Based on the weighting scheme developed, the top 12 Green-IT Users and top 12 Green-IT Vendors lists were chosen.

What follows is the survey and scoring system that Computerworld used to select the "greenest" companies from among the nominees.

Part 1: Checklist

Please indicate your agreement or disagreement with the following statements. (Note: Respondents received 1 point for each positive response below unless otherwise noted.)

Top Level

• Top executives (e.g., CEO) have made an explicit, vigorous commitment to energy efficiency.

• Organization has set and published goals for energy efficiency, energy savings and/or carbon reduction.

• Organization has a green-IT expert or experts on staff (either within or outside the IT department) dedicated to developing and monitoring green-IT practices for the organization as a whole.

• Organization has fine-tuned its data retention policies to lower storage volume.

• Organization has a program to encourage or require employees to save energy (e.g. turn off unused monitors).

• Organization explicitly encourages employees to suggest, identify and promote practices that save energy.

• Purchasing practices favor energy-efficient products. (5 points)

• Purchasing practices favor recycled products. (5 points)

• Selection of external service providers favors those with commitments to energy conservation and carbon reduction. (4 points)

• Organization has a LEED-approved building and/or data center.

• Organization is a member of a "green" consortium or group dedicated to energy conservation.

• Organization has a program for proper recycling of IT equipment that includes establishing the chain of custody of discarded products and conducting audits or background checks of vendors providing reclamation services.

Monitoring and Measuring

• IT managers see and analyze electric utility bills.

• IT managers have a program in place to lower electric utility bills.

• The IT and facilities departments have teamed up to reduce IT electric bills.

• Organization measures electricity consumption for IT equipment and for data center infrastructure.

• Organization has performed an audit/assessment of IT and data center power consumption.

• Organization has systems or sensors in place to monitor temperatures in the data center. (3 points)

• Organization participates in utility energy-saving or load-balancing programs.

• To measure data center energy efficiency, organization uses The Green Grid's power usage effectiveness (PUE) metric. (3 points)

• To measure data center energy efficiency, organization uses The Green Grid's data center infrastructure efficiency (DCIE) metric. (3 points)

• Organization has benchmarked its data center(s) with the EPA, earning a rating of 75 or above. (2 points)

• Organization has earned the EPA's Energy Star rating for its data center(s). (2 points)

• Organization uses EPA-approved "green" servers. (2 points)

Employee Practices/Recycling

• Organization has program to recycle unused/discarded high-tech equipment (e.g., old PCs and monitors). (3 points)

• Organization has program to recycle technology-related consumables (e.g. printer cartridges and printer paper).

• Organization explicitly encourages telecommuting and provides the necessary equipment and support. (2 points)

• Organization mandates the use of videoconferencing, or has cut travel budgets to force increased usage of videoconferencing.

• Organization uses thin clients, or plans to replace desktop PCs with thin clients.

Facilities/Data Center

• Organization has installed energy-efficient HVAC and building automation controls.

• Organization uses power management software. (3 points)

• Organization has reduced IT equipment energy consumption by at least 5% in the past 12 months. (5 points)

• Organization has improved IT equipment energy efficiency by at least 5% in the past 12 months. (5 points)

• Organization has implemented server virtualization to reduce the number of servers needed. (2 points)

• Organization has revised its data center layout (or design) to reduce power demand. (2 points)

• Organization uses alternative energy sources (e.g. solar, wind and hydro) to provide power to IT facilities or systems. (5 points)

• Organization uses "free-cooling," or the process of pulling in colder outside air, to cool its data center(s). (3 points)

• Organization has replaced servers that are more than three years old with new energy-efficient models.

• Organization has avoided the need to build a new data center because of virtualization and/or consolidation efforts, or through a combination of the efforts above.

• Organization uses flywheel technology to provide bridge power in the event of power outages. (2 points)

Part II: Essays

Note: Responses were limited to 500 words.

1. Please describe your organization's efforts in the past 18 months to reduce the consumption of energy (especially energy derived from fossil fuels) by information systems, as well as technology-related recycling programs and technology support for telecommuting. Please include information about the anticipated payback from these green initiatives, as well as a timeline for when the initiatives were begun and when they are expected to be fully in place. Also, you may use this space to clarify or elaborate on any of the answers you gave above.

2. Please describe your organization's future "green" efforts -- those that are either in the works or are planned for the next 12 to 18 months.

The winning organizations are presented here, in ranked order.

Next: The full list of Top Green-IT Organizations

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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