Ten months ago we finally moved into a brand new building here at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. This is a building that had been in planning and construction for years. A building that by design and in practice was to set a tone for a commitment to environmental responsibility. This commitment can be seen from the Gold LEED status of the construction project to the reduction printer waste to the banning of space heaters in offices.
And the big solar array on our roof. (more on that after the link…)
As for my part in all of this, I had to consider how to ensure that IT was a part of the commitment to sustainability as well. This isn’t always easy, PCs and servers by their nature are typically power hungry and full of toxins and heavy metals that are recycled frequently. They also add to the cost of heating and cooling of the building over all.
To meet this challenge we virtualized our entire environment and managed to drop from 35 old school physical servers to only 4 and a storage array. As for desktops, we eliminated 99% of them and now run over 250 virtual Windows 7 desktops on 4 servers. That’s means we reduced the number of machines from nearly 300 to 8 plus attached storage. All of this equipment now lives in a hot aisle containment system monitored and powered by an APC power management system. (and as an aside, when the power went out in all of San Diego county, we didn’t skip a beat)
What’s cool about this besides the fact that its just plain cool is that we can measure our impact on the environment in energy savings and in the fact that we recycle less equipment and do so less frequently.
Back to the solar array. I just ran some sample numbers yesterday and it would appear that if we add up all of the power consumed by all of the servers, network switches, storage, security equipment, WAPs and phones throughout the building it is essentially a wash when compared to what we generate on the roof.
Talk about being green.