Andy Lausch is Vice President of Higher Education for CDW•G, a leading technology provider to government and education.

Apr 26 2012

How to Sell Your Campus’ Administration on Green IT

Budget-conscious chiefs will appreciate it when you present a complete program with a five-year growth plan.

What’s not to like about green IT? It can save money, boost data center efficiency and advance a college’s sustainability goals. But before IT leaders can launch an initiative, they need to sell it properly to stakeholders. 

How can higher education IT leaders demonstrate to the administration the overall benefits of green technology? The first thing to understand is that no one person can make a program happen: It takes a team.

Utah State University took this approach, delivering dramatic results. The university’s new data center, which features server virtualization and upgraded power and cooling, consumes 50 percent less power than the campus’s previous data center.

In putting the program together, David Tidwell, the university’s physical infrastructure coordinator, says he tapped every available engineer:

  • The structural engineer provided input about the impact on the physical plant.
  • The mechanical engineer gave details about how green IT could reduce air conditioning demands.
  • The electrical engineer assessed power consumption before and after the proposed initiative.
Tidwell recommends bringing these professionals along when you meet with the administration and deferring to them in their areas of expertise. “During your presentation, detail specific cost savings that the institution will realize over the lifecycle of the equipment purchase,” he says.

In fact, demonstrating cost savings over several years helped the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering win approval for a green program. Jim Zahniser, the school’s executive director of engineering IT, says new power and cooling gear reduces the school’s annual electric bill by $5,000 per year, which should add up to $100,000 over the 20-year lifecycle of the equipment. That’s the kind of bottom-line information that really appeals to administrators.

Follow the Leaders

54%Percentage of IT managers surveyed who have or are developing programs to manage energy consumption in their data center.

SOURCE: CDW•G 2012 Energy Efficient IT Report, April 2012

Utah State and the University of Maryland are green leaders. And based on CDW•G’s 2012 Energy Efficient IT Report, it’s clear that many colleges are making similar progress toward reducing costs while driving up sustainability. The report notes that 33 percent of higher education data center purchases in the past three months were categorized as green.

Given the budget challenges colleges face and the desire to foster sustainability, with some careful planning, it seems likely that increasingly more tech purchases will need to be green in the coming years. The possibilities include virtualized servers, new cooling approaches, ENERGY STAR–qualifying gear and energy-efficient UPSs, among others.

CDW•G’s report also found that, of institutions responding to the survey that have a program to manage data center power demand, 71 percent have reduced data center costs by 1 percent or more, and 48 percent say they experienced specific savings by deploying energy-efficient UPSs.

Green IT has a bright future in the data center. By organizing the collective wisdom of your instituion’s engineers, budget-conscious administrators will likely come to recognize that such solutions  simply make sense on many fronts. Saving money and aiding the environment offers a win for everyone.


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