Power Struggle

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Wills, who forecasts utility needs, floor build-outs, and cooling and mechanical requirements, reports to the senior vice president of corporate real estate and strategic sourcing, who also reports to the CTO.

The structure encourages integration of the bank's IT and facilities staffs. The company has already moved some IT people into facilities, and Wills is now working on moving more facilities people into IT.

And Wills has started requiring his facilities quality-control managers to be certified in ITIL standards for managing IT infrastructure, development and operations. "So now they have the same language as the IT people," he says.

Some companies haven't embraced that type of energy-efficiency-driven reorganization but are starting to hold CIOs responsible for IT energy use.

Last year, for example, reducing power consumption became for the first time an important part of Atti Riazi's job at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. Riazi, who is worldwide CIO and a senior partner at the advertising agency, has a goal of reducing the firm's carbon dioxide emissions by 20% over the next three years. Toward that end, IT has begun measuring its power use and devising ways to reduce it. Every six months, Riazi must report IT energy consumption to the CEO and CFO.

Reducing IT energy use is also a priority at medical insurer Highmark Inc. Vice president of infrastructure management Mark O'Gara, who reports to the CIO, says one goal is to reduce power consumption within the data center by 10% this year. But IT consumes only 40% of the power used in the data center. Facilities and infrastructure consumes the rest, with facilities reporting to the vice president of human relations and administrative services, who reports to the CEO.

IT and facilities are working together on ways to reduce energy use, such as improving airflow, which reduces the need for air conditioning. Other measures have reduced expenses in the facilities budget.

That said, facilities does not have a target comparable to IT's for reducing its energy use, according to O'Gara. "Maybe that will be next year," he says.

While very few companies are tackling energy management in just the way McKinsey envisioned, and energy czars are still few and far between, organizations are beginning to realize the importance of tinkering with, or wholly reorganizing, their reporting structures to better control energy use and costs.

At Bank of Montreal, the new energy-centric reporting structure makes it very clear who is responsible for which costs, says Wills.

"You cannot control these costs without aligning these accountabilities up," he notes. "I think that's the tough part for a lot of large organizations -- to get that clarity."

Harbert, a Washington-based journalist, is a frequent contributor to Computerworld.

This is the edited-for-print version of "Power struggle: What role should IT play in reining in energy costs?" which originally ran online.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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