The green IT stars of 2010

InfoWorld's 2010 Green 15 Awards: Green-tech projects coupled with innovation and collaboration yield bountiful rewards

This year's crop of Green 15 winners demonstrates how organizations of all sizes are finding innovative ways to use information technology to achieve critical and often complementary environmental and business objectives. Increasingly, companies are moving beyond out-of-the-box products and siloed approaches to making IT itself more energy efficient. Rather, they're leveraging technology as part of a broader, holistic effort to create greener operations as a whole.

Telecom equipment manufacturer Ericsson, for example, has adopted a complex asset management system that the company and its global partners use to deliver parts, products, and repair services to customers in the most efficient way possible. The project promotes environmental objectives such as reuse, fuel efficiency, and material conservation -- and it saves Ericsson cash while boosting customer satisfaction.

[ See last year's list of Green 15 winners. | View a slideshow of green tech and gadgets for Earth Day. | Keep abreast of green IT news and tips by subscribing to InfoWorld's free weekly Green Tech newsletter. ]

Meanwhile, accounting firm KPMG is finding ways to use IT to ingrain sustainable practices in day-to-day operations. For example, the company added a Green Travel Advisor to its internal portal that urges employees to use telepresence over air travel whenever practical. When it's not, the advisor directs them to environmentally responsible hotels.

Companies are also continuing to devise ways to enhance traditional green tech projects. In the past, data center greening projects tended to rely heavily on rolling out server virtualization, creating hot and cold aisles, and adjusting temperature and airflow. Green 15 winners including Dell and Intel have taken green data center initiatives a step further, employing homegrown techniques to drill down into how efficiently, or inefficiently, resources are being used and whether they're required at all.

Out of necessity or optimism, more organizations are thinking different in the name of thinking green. Syracuse University, for example, has done what few traditional data centers are willing to try: employing DC power in its new data center. The government of Andrha Pradesh in India embraced virtual desktops at 5,000 schools because it lacked the infrastructure for PCs. And a consortium of universities in Canada transformed a circular cement silo that formerly housed a particle accelerator into an innovatively designed cooling enclosure for a new supercomputer.

Since InfoWorld launched the Green 15 in 2008, project leaders have reiterated a shared sentiment time and again: Technology goes only so far in helping an organization achieve environmental objectives. Organizations in which executives work to promote green practices, engage employees, and drive collaboration and knowledge sharing among departments and business units will enjoy the greatest return on their green IT investments.

InfoWorld's 2010 Green 15 Award winners, in alphabetical order:

  • Aflac pushes for paperless practices, yields productivity gains
  • Andhra Pradesh overcomes resource limitations with virtual desktops
  • CLUMEQ transforms rundown particle accelerator into high-efficiency cooling enclosure
  • Dell spurs efficiency by pulling the plug on unnecessary apps
  • EPA's Energy Star for servers and data centers illuminates sustainable paths
  • Ericsson drives a greener supply chain
  • Intel pinpoints thousands of unproductive servers
  • Iron Mountain finds limestone a natural fit for data center efficiency
  • KPMG scores sky-high savings with telepresence
  • Palo Alto takes a unified approach to shattering carbon-cutting goals
  • Provider Enterprises steers fleet toward fuel savings
  • Raytheon's companywide green efforts reach Antarctica
  • Standard Bank enlists thin clients to avoid costly AC upgrade
  • State Street banks on sustainability
  • Syracuse University turns to DC power in constructing its Green Data Center
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