Live from DM Days: Big Blue Goes 'Big Green' IBM's Elaine Lennox Explains How
June 12, 2008 — This morning, DM Days attendees gained insight on “going green” from Elaine Lennox, vice president of marketing for IBM’s Systems and Technology Group, and Matt Rosenblum, CEO of Neuwing Energy. The keynote presentation, entitled “How to Go Green Profitably and Responsibly,” took place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City on the final day of DM Days New York Conference & Expo.
IBM launched its Project Big Green about a year ago as a major initiative to help the company’s clients achieve greater energy efficiency, Lennox explained. IBM’s plans include reallocating $1 billion each year to accelerate green technologies and services, offering a roadmap for clients to address the IT energy crisis, creating a global green team of almost 1,000 energy efficiency specialists from across IBM, and doubling the computer capacity of its Green Data Centers by 2010 without increasing power consumption.
“The IT industry is still pretty young as an industry, and we’re not terribly efficient yet,” Lennox told attendees. In the IT industry, she explained, data centers generate about 2 percent of the carbon emissions in the world. This, she pointed out, is because of the electricity they use. Data centers’ energy usage is roughly equivalent to the aviation industry, and IT usage is predicted to double in the next four years.
According to Lennox, opportunities for green IT abound. The magnitude of the problem is huge, and the inefficiency needs to be addressed.
Further, she said, e-waste can no longer be ignored, and is becoming a “huge deal.” In fact, of the power coming into a data center, 55 percent of the energy goes into physically cooling the room, because the servers, system, and storage are all creating heat. “In addition,” she noted, “only 5 to 10 percent of the server is actually being used most of the time, because you have to allow that there may be a peak, where you could be using 80 percent.”
The explosion of interest in environmental issues has created an emerging area in terms of standards, Lennox explained. “One of the hard things in green space right now, is that there’s not a clear set of standards that you can use today. We’re working with organizations to get them to create standards so there are verifiable ways of measuring green efforts,” she said.
Matt Rosenblum explained that he started Neuwing Energy in order to come up with a standard for energy verification. “We measure and verify the efficiency of projects,” he said. “A lot of companies are trying to say they’re green. We come in and measure their savings of energy usage.”
Rosenblum went on to explain that the company takes measurements before a new energy system is implemented, and then measures the difference afterwards. “That difference results in an energy efficiency certificate,” he explained.
IBM and Neuwing recently announced an energy efficiency certificate program, which, Rosenblum said, is the first and only program of its kind. All IBM systems now participate. “We help people come up with recommendations on how to reduce carbon footprint and energy cost,” he said. “We measure, verify, certify, and we hope, monetize against their goals.”
To launch green initiatives successfully, Lennox recommended that businesses set substantive goals. “Effective global goals should document integrated results. Ask yourself what goal will be substantive and important enough, and what’s the long term goal for your company?”
Green Claims Need Be ‘Transparent and Verified’
Lennox also advised that green claims should be transparent and verified. “Declaration alone is not acceptable,” she said. “You can’t just put something in your annual report because you made it up,” she said.
Don’t overstate your product claims, Lennox warned. “Saving energy in your data center is good, but don’t claim you saved the world.” After all, she continued, consumers today are becoming smarter, with a host of online tools now available to them to measure carbon footprints.
Currently, Lennox explained, US businesses are not implementing green efforts based on outside regulation. However, she predicted that in five to ten years, substantial regulatory measures will indeed be in place. “We are seeing regulations in Europe and UK and Germany, and [overseas] clients are starting to come to us and say ‘how do I meet these regulations?’ Over time, it will become a primary driver
“There is a grand opportunity for companies, if they can show that they are leading the way in the green movement,” Lennox pointed out.
However, she added, businesses should take the reins now. “If you look forward five or ten years, the opportunity to differentiate your company and brand [as leaders in the green arena] will no longer exist.”
Further, she continued, regulations will be implemented that will force businesses into compliance. “If you wait five years, you will be forced into this. You will not be part of forming how it affects your industry, you will be forced to. You want to be out there helping to put the standards in place.”
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