October 24, 2011, 11:31 AM — Boston-based law firm Nixon Peabody has elevated its focus on sustainability to the highest corporate level. A chief sustainability officer and a Green Operations Steering Committee lead green initiatives throughout the organization, and IT spearheads and enables much of the work.
"It was pushed down, and we embraced it," says CIO Mike Green. "Like everything we do in the firm, with the environmental programs, we want to help."
To that end, the IT department has centralized the firm's data centers, consolidated its storage assets and virtualized its servers, going from 300 physical servers to 30 VMware ESX servers, all located in its primary data center. The effort cut power consumption by approximately 30%.
The firm's technology department also spent $30,000 to retrofit printers as part of its best practices for office paper management, converting nearly all printers to double-sided printing by default. Moreover, the firm encourages its employees to keep documents in an electronic form instead of printing them out. As a result, paper usage has dropped by 15%, saving an average of 120 cartons -- or 600,000 sheets -- of paper every month.
"It took time to communicate and get everyone comfortable with this," says Jim Passantino, director of local IT operations in Rochester, N.Y., and a member of the firm's Legally Green Team. But the firm's lawyers, whose jobs have traditionally focused on producing paper documents, were convinced by IT-driven metrics that showed the significant savings.
Nixon Peabody CIO Mike Green says he expects vendors to keep creating technologies that will help user organizations continue to pursue green initiatives. "Going forward is a little more challenging, but there will be technologies that will come along to help," he says.
Meanwhile, the IT team is replacing old storage tools with new, high-efficiency systems, a move that is expected to cut storage-related power and cooling needs by an additional 25%, says John Roman, director of IT operations.
IT is also in the process of replacing more than 1,100 monitors with Energy Star-rated LCD units, which should cut monitor power consumption by 40%.