A new data center runs natural-gas-powered microturbines that generate electricity.

Ask Dick Anderson, CIO at KPMG LLP, to tell you what the audit, tax and advisory firm's carbon footprint is, and he can answer immediately. He can also tell you the exact amount of this month's carbon savings resulting from the IT unit's server virtualization, videoconferencing, document management and e-waste recycling efforts. All he has to do is glance at an energy-metrics dashboard on his PC, which provides all that information monthly.

The dashboard, started under the leadership of now-retired CIO Rowan Snyder, is just one part of KPMG's Living Green program. The program aims to measure, report on and reduce the firm's global carbon footprint by 25% by 2010, starting from a 2007 baseline. To support that goal, IT has taken on various projects, the most dramatic of which is a data center, unveiled in 2008, that co-generates up to 75% of its own energy.

The facility uses multiple sources for electrical power, but 14 natural gas-powered microturbines generate the majority of the electricity needed, up to 840 kilowatts. The electricity is also significantly "cleaner" than traditional electricity, says Anderson. And by recovering heat generated by the turbines, absorption chillers cool up to 420 tons of water, used for free cooling in the data center. In fact, 80% of the energy from the natural gas gets used through this design, which is three times more efficient than electricity grids. "As soon as it was fired up, the carbon footprint due to energy consumption dropped 13%," Anderson says.

IT also increased the firm's percentage of virtualized servers from 15% to 40% in 2008. And through technology upgrades, KPMG decreased the average energy consumption of its PCs by 11% last year.

And the company not only works with vendors to recycle technology equipment, to the tune of 45 tons in 2008, but it also ensures that its employees working on these efforts are certified through an in-house online training seminar to understand how to handle each type of device.

"We also ask vendors to send us verification as to where waste goes after leaving the door," says Darren McGann, manager of IT infrastructure operations at KPMG.

Brandel is a Computerworld contributing writer. Contact her at

Next: No. 8: Seventh Generation replaces PCs with energy-efficient laptops


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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