CMS reduces carbon footprint, increases savings 
 
Ninety cents may seem like pocket change, but in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools 90 cents can quickly amount to more than a million dollars in savings. With CMS Information Technology and Building Services departments working together, the district was able to find a way to conserve energy, save money and help fight global warming. All it took was a better method to shutting down administrative and school computers, saving the district 90 cents (63 cents per computer, 27 cents per monitor) per hour per 30,000 computers.

The effort led to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizing CMS in its ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign. According to Energy Star, power management enables computers and monitors to go into a low-power sleep mode after a period of inactivity. Power management has the potential to save up to $50 per computer annually.

CMS saved approximately $1.35 million in 2011-2012 due to steps taken by the district’s IT department. For several years the district shut down computers which provided a savings, but within the last year the approach to saving energy and money was more aggressive. According to the CMS Director of Data Center Operations, Susan Manning, last year the district was able to upgrade its Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager software that produces power management reports. The free upgrade tracked the usage of computers and logged when the computer idled.  

Originally, computers would shut down at 9 p.m., but after the CMS Energy Management Team began to review the reports during this last year IT began to ease the time up hour by hour. Computers now shut down as early as 6 p.m.

“We have software that talks to the machine and tells it to shutdown,” said Manning. “Turning off a light when you walk out of an office or shutting down a computer is a way we can all play a role in saving our community and the world.” 

Chief Information Officer Dr. Valerie Truesdale added, “We salute cooperation from our principals and school teams in helping us aggressively conserve energy and financial resources by turning on technology when it is needed.”   

CMS joins the ranks of leading businesses and organizations that participates in the ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign, including Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Dell Inc., FOX Entertainment Group Inc., Mircrosoft, OfficeMax, City of Portland (Oregon) Public Schools and others.

The district has set a strategic goal of decreasing energy consumption by 20 percent by 2014. As of June 2012, CMS had a total reduction of 23.3 percent. Last year, the district avoided cost in excess of $7 million due to energy saving efforts.