Monsanto Co.

When Monsanto Co. began designing a new $21 million data center in Creve Coeur, Mo., about five years ago, it was a decidedly green effort from the get-go. The 40,000-square-foot facility, which was completed last July, was designed with a 17-foot floor-to-ceiling span to promote airflow and eliminate the need for power or cooling units on the data center's floor. And the glass screen that covers the front of the building isn't just aesthetically pleasing: It can withstand the wind force of an F3 tornado and screens 60% of the sun's rays, thus lowering the demands on the building's cooling systems, says CIO Mark Showers.

Officials hope that design elements like these will help the building earn a LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The USGBC awards LEED, or the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification to buildings that meet certain prerequisites and achieve performance points in areas such as energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality. According to Ashley Katz, a spokeswoman at the USGBC, there are just three LEED-certified data centers in the U.S.

Monsanto's hub is expected to save the St. Louis-based agricultural giant 27% of the energy consumed by a conventionally designed data center.

The new data center reflects Monsanto's ongoing efforts to gradually reduce its global IT power consumption. Over the past decade, the company has consolidated more than 10 geographically dispersed data centers around the world into a single hub, says Showers.

Monsanto's IT aggregation has been aided by its server consolidation and virtualization strategies. Over the past three years, Monsanto has eliminated 334 servers, and it is running just 16 Windows- and Linux-based machines today, thanks in part to its use of VMware virtualization software, says Showers.

Monsanto hasn't tried to calculate the energy savings that the server reduction has generated, but Showers says the move has yielded a "major" reduction in energy costs and heat to be dissipated.

Monsanto's green culture has made its data center investment and other IT power-saving initiatives an easy sell for Showers and his 1,200-person team. Thanks to the company's commitment to environmental conservation, he says, "it's just not a difficult conversation" with senior executives.

Next: No. 12 Wachovia Corp.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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