For the third year in a row, Computerworld set out to identify organisations that are implementing smart, efficient strategies to achieve "green IT." This year, Computerworld teamed up with sister publication Network World to identify the top organisations leading the way with green-IT efforts, as well as the coolest green-IT products in use.

Organisations were invited to complete a comprehensive questionnaire online from May to July. The survey was sent out to the IT community through a variety of channels, including e-mail newsletters, Computerworld.com and email broadcasts. Ninety-five organizations participated.

Computerworld then contacted representatives at the participating organisations to verify that the information provided on the surveys was truthful and accurate. Only those organisations that filed verification letters were considered.

Computerworld then applied a set of criteria, developed with the help of green-IT industry experts, to identify the organizations that are working to reduce energy consumption by IT equipment and using technology to conserve energy and lower their carbon emissions. A separate list was created to showcase IT vendors and data centre suppliers. Included in this category are hardware, software, networking, IT infrastructure and data centre vendors.

Based on the weighting scheme developed, the top 12 Green-IT Users and top 12 Green-IT Vendors lists were chosen. Respondents were also asked to identify the most useful and effective green-IT products they are using now, including the benefits of the product in terms of cost-savings and/or environmental impact, as well as the types of green-IT products they are researching, planning to purchase or piloting. From this list, Network World explored the most frequently cited products and tools.

What follows is the survey and scoring system that Computerworld used to select the "greenest" companies from among the nominees.

Part 1: Checklist

Please indicate your agreement or disagreement with the following statements. (Note: Respondents received 1 point for each positive response below unless otherwise noted.)

Top Level

  • Top executives (eg, the CEO) have made an explicit, vigorous commitment to energy efficiency.
  • The organisation has set and published goals for energy efficiency, energy savings and/or carbon emissions reduction.
  • The organization has a green-IT expert or experts on staff (either within or outside the IT department) dedicated to developing and monitoring green-IT practices for the organisation as a whole.
  • The organisation has a program to encourage or require employees to save energy (e.g., turn off unused monitors).
  • The organisation explicitly encourages employees to suggest, identify and spread practices that save energy.
  • Purchasing practices favour energy-efficient products. (5 points)
  • Purchasing practices favour recycled products. (5 points)
  • Selection of external service providers favours those with commitments to energy conservation and carbon reduction. (4 points)
  • The organisation is a member of a "green" consortium or group dedicated to energy conservation.

Monitoring and Measuring

  • IT managers see and analyse electric utility bills.
  • IT managers have a financial incentive program in place to lower electric utility bills.
  • The IT and facilities departments have teamed up to reduce IT electric bills.
  • The organisation measures electricity consumption for IT equipment and data centre infrastructure.
  • The organisation has performed an audit/assessment of IT and data centre power consumption.
  • The organisation has systems or sensors in place to monitor temperatures in the data centre.
  • The organisation participates in utility energy-saving or load-balancing programs.
  • To measure data centre energy efficiency, the organization uses The Green Grid's power usage effectiveness metric, or PUE, which is the basis for the EPA's upcoming Energy Star ratings for data centres.
  • To measure data centre energy efficiency, the organization uses The Green Grid's data centre infrastructure efficiency metric, or DCIE.

Employee Practices/Recycling

  • The organisation has a program to recycle unused/discarded high-tech equipment (eg, old PCs and monitors). (3 points)
  • The organisation has a program to recycle technology-related consumables (eg, printer cartridges and printer paper).
  • The organisation explicitly encourages telecommuting and provides the necessary equipment and support. (2 points)
  • The organisation has video-conferencing systems that can substitute for travel.
  • The organisation mandates the use of video-conferencing or has cut travel budgets to force increased usage of video-conferencing.

Facilities/Data Centre

  • The organisation has installed energy-efficient HVAC and building-automation controls in the past 12 months. (3 points)
  • The organisation uses power management software.
  • The organisation has reduced IT equipment energy consumption by at least 5% in the past 12 months. (5 points)
  • The organisation has improved IT equipment energy efficiency by at least 5% in the past 12 months. (5 points)
  • The organisation has implemented server virtualisation to reduce the number of servers needed. (2 points)
  • The organisation has revised its data centre layout (or design) to reduce power demand. (2 points)
  • The organisation uses alternative energy supplies (eg solar, wind) to provide power to IT facilities or systems. (5 points)
  • The organisation uses "free cooling," or the process of pulling in cooler outside air, to cool the data centre.
  • The organisation has replaced servers more than three years old with new energy-efficient models.
  • The organisation has avoided the need to build a new data centre because of virtualisation and/or consolidation efforts, or through a combination of the efforts above.

Part II: Essay

Note: Responses were limited to 500 words.

1. Please describe your organisation's efforts to reduce the consumption of energy (especially energy derived from fossil fuels) by information systems, as well as technology-related recycling programs and technology support for telecommuting. Please include information about the anticipated payback from these green initiatives, as well as a timeline for when the initiatives were begun and when they are expected to be fully in place. Also, you may use this space to clarify or elaborate on any of the answers you gave above.

2. The IT department is increasingly being called upon to support organisations' sustainability efforts. Please describe how your organisation is training its IT workers to understand and implement energy strategies related to IT operations.