Madison, WI - How a City Greens Its Municipal IT Operation

City governments can show Green ICT leadership. Paul Kronberger, CIO of Madison (WI-USA), a city of 270,000 residents, tells me the municipality has taken these steps to improve the sustainability of its own operations.

Printer/fax/copier consolidation: This initiative started approximately five years ago as a pilot project in The Natural Step program. It replaced hundreds of stand-alone printers and fax machines with energy efficient, cost effective multifunction devices. Consolidation allowed the city to reduce costs through reduction in toner, reduced power consumption through fewer devices which were more energy efficient, reduced paper consumption by requiring duplex printing, and reduced landfill volume due to fewer devices being replaced.

PC energy reduction: The IT department purchased PC power management software for in 2007 all city-owned desktop PCs. This allowed IT to centrally manage power on PCs by setting policies that would put the machines into hibernation mode after a specified period of time. An annual energy audit report shows an average savings of about 125 kWh/year or $15,000/year.

Server Virtualization: This allows IT to uses hardware to its fullest capacity, with few physical servers, less energy consumption, less data center A/C required and less volume going to the landfill. Virtualization also reduces hardware costs.

Data Center remodel: The main data center was rebuilt in 2012 using state of the art data center techniques. The old inefficient A/C was replaced with a glycol-based system that exclusively uses 'free air' to cool the data center when outside temperature are 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler. An enclosed server rack system efficiently extracts the hot air generated by our computer equipment and uses it to heat the water in the building.

Remote Secondary Data Center: The remote secondary data center was designed to capture the waste heat and vent it into an adjacent municipal garage for heating purposes. This results in lower energy costs for the garage facility.

e-Waste/e-Procurement Policy: A policy was written in 2009 to outline the appropriate disposal procedures for all the municipal government's electronic waste. The goal of this policy is to maintain a sustainable system of e-procurement that is concerned with acquisition of computers and electronic products that meet the most preferable environmental, social and economic standards and ensure that the city complies with environmentally and socially responsible e-waste management procedures for the disposal of all e-gear.