EMC's latest sustainability report highlights $7.5M savings in data center energy cost

The 2009 sustainability reports keep rolling in, and today it is data storage company EMC's turn in the spotlight. At 84 digital pages, there are plenty of data points in this update to provide ideas for all you green IT gurus reading this.

The 2009 sustainability reports keep rolling in, and today it is data storage company EMC's turn in the spotlight. At 84 digital pages, there are plenty of data points in this update to provide ideas for all you green IT gurus reading this. Obviously, I can only pluck out a few here.

One of the most fascinating goals talked about in the report is the company's intention to virtualize 100 percent of its servers by the end of this year.

That's right, every server.

So far, its massive server virtualization and storage consolidation and tiering program has squeezed $7.5 million out of the company's data center energy costs. Last year alone, energy efficiency technology improvements across ALL of the company's operations (not just IT) resulted in savings of 7.5 million kilowatt hours in electricity.

Aside from virtualization, EMC highlights adaptive cooling technology as a major contributor to its sustainability efforts. For example, by using adaptive cooling in a 240-drive array, a company could save up to 480 watts in cooling power. NOW, mind you, EMC SELLS adaptive cooling technology, so its choice to highlight this needs to be considered in this context.

Like many of the big high-tech vendors EMC is relying heavily on e-conferencing technologies to help cut travel costs. Since 2007, as an example, it says its investments in using videoconferencing and other remote meeting applications has helped lop 21 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions related to its corporate travel activities.

Of course, those are things that EMC is doing for itself. How is it using sustainability principles to help its customers and (by extension) improve its business?

One example pertains to packaging. Last year, EMC started using reusable crates to ship its some of its storage products AND it crammed 50 percent more product into the same packaging space. That means a one-third reduction in the trucks required to deliver these technologies. It is supporting several different initiatives in reusable packaging that customers can ship back, relieving them of the disposal headaches and (so far) saving 13,000 kilograms of waste per year.

An observation from EMC Chief Sustainability Officer Kathrin Winkler on the role of sustainability within EMC's operations:

"The larger and more global EMC becomes, the more clearly we see that the principles for creating a sustainable world also apply to creating a sustainable company—principles like taking the long view of your actions and viewing the world as a complete and complex system with countless interconnections and interdependencies.

If you hold that view—and a growing number of our 43,000­plus employ­ees do—then you realize that long­-term social, environmental, and eco­nomic sustainability must become an essential part of every decision and action. This change in organizational mindset is the very journey we’re on."

Several other data points to leave you with:

  • Since 2005, EMC has cut its greenhouse gas emissions per square foot related to its facilities in the United States by 21 percent
  • Its ratio of greenhouse gas emissions per dollar of revenue in 2009 was 11 percent below 2005 levels
  • Absolute greenhouse gas emissions have declined by 40 percent since 2000, a number that is more impressive when you consider that EMC has increased revenue by 59 percent

One thing you won't find much of in this report is commentary on water usage. The company is actually evaluating it to figure out whether it SHOULD track its water footprint. Today, EMC produces no industrial wastewater in its manufacturing facilities. It currently reuses more than 15 million liters of "gray water" for cooling, sanitation and irrigation and hopes to increase water reusage rates by 30 percent this year.

You can read some broader information about EMC's sustainability priorities at this link.

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