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Reducing Environmental Impact through PC Life Cycle and Configuration Management

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Published: May 2012

Microsoft IT reduces the environmental impact of PCs used at Microsoft by ensuring that only the greenest PCs are available on the preapproved standards list, that they are configured to operate efficiently, and that they are either refurbished or disposed of properly when retired. By addressing energy efficiency during operations, Microsoft IT has reduced client PC energy consumption by 32 percent, lowered Microsoft's CO2 emissions, and saved money.

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Intended Audience Products & Technologies

Executives, IT decision-makers, and IT pros interested in learning about how PC life cycle and configuration management can reduce the environmental impact of an organization's IT

  • System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
  • Windows 7
  • Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher Program

Introduction

As a part of an ongoing commitment to reduce the environmental impact of Microsoft's use of IT, Microsoft IT has taken a complete PC life cycle management approach to ensure that all employee PCs and peripherals:

  • Are designed for efficiency. All PCs included in the Microsoft IT Client Standards List must meet Energy Star, Climate Savers, 80 Plus, and EPEAT Gold requirements.

  • Operate efficiently, consuming power only when needed. A customized Windows' power plan leverages Microsoft® System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Client Power Management (CPM) functionality to help ensure that PCs and monitors enter sleep mode when not in use.

  • Are disposed of responsibly. Microsoft has instituted a zero-landfill policy in the United States and is also expanding the technology reuse and recycling program globally. Microsoft's Global Procurement Group (GPG) is collaborating with Microsoft IT to ensure that technology recycling programs are in place and that employees are informed about proper disposal procedures.

Client Hardware Procurement

Employees at Microsoft visit the corporate procurement portal to select new PCs from the Microsoft IT Client Standard List for purchase from Microsoft-approved vendors. To help ensure that all employee PC purchases are energy efficient and environmentally friendly, Microsoft IT looked to several industry groups to help identify the criteria that could be used to certify PCs for inclusion on the Microsoft IT Client Standard List. These groups include:

  • Energy Star. These energy standards are published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and widely adopted globally. They cover both desktop and portable computers.

  • Climate Savers. This industry group is dedicated to energy efficiency and carbon reductions. Corporate members make a multi-year commitment to purchase more energy-efficient products. Microsoft is a founding member, with both client computer and server purchasing commitments.

  • EPEAT. This independent organization describes its guidance as "Green Electronics Made Easy" and provides purchasing guidelines with industry input. EPEAT covers both desktop and portable computers, and all EPEAT-registered products must meet 23 requirements. Manufacturers can apply for a higher rating for a product depending on how many of the 28 optional criteria they meet.

  • 80 Plus. This industry group focuses on power supply efficiency. Its efficiency ratings align with Climate Savers' year-by-year targets.

All of the PCs on the Microsoft IT Client Standards List are EPEAT Gold registered, which also means that they are all Energy Star compliant. In the United States, 95 percent of employee PC purchases are on the Client Standards List.

Microsoft not only works with approved hardware vendors and partners to help drive energy efficiency into our products but also work with them to encourage the use of less consumer packaging and more environmentally responsible packaging materials.

Client Power Management

Microsoft IT has implemented and enforces customized power settings that leverage System Center 2012 Configuration Manager functionality to manage power-saving settings for more than 90 percent of client computers at Microsoft. The customized power settings were tuned specifically to have little impact on users during peak business hours and provided a standardized power plan for the PCs at Microsoft. The Microsoft IT customized peak power plan offers full performance while PCs are in use and saves power during periods of inactivity by putting PCs to sleep.

The first policy settings were rolled out in October 2010, and energy consumption was immediately reduced by 26 percent for Microsoft IT–managed client desktop and portable computers. After operating successfully for 6 months with power policy settings in place, Microsoft IT determined that it could go lower without significant impact to users. In April 2011, more aggressive settings were implemented that even further reduced the energy consumption of idle systems to a total of 32 percent savings over the 2010 pre-CPM baseline (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Energy consumption reductions after implementation of CPM settings

Figure 1. Energy consumption reductions after implementation of CPM settings

Table 1 and Table 2 illustrate the settings that were implemented at each milestone.

Table 1. Phase 1 Default System Center 2012 Configuration Manager CPM Policy Settings as Applied During FY10

Timing

Function

Machine power status

AC

Battery

Core business hours
07:00–19:00 local time

Monitor will turn off

20 minutes

10 minutes

Core business hours
07:00–19:00 local time

Computer will enter sleep mode

6 Hours

15 minutes

Non-core business hours
19:00–07:00 local time

Monitor will turn off

20 minutes

10 minutes

Non-core business hours
19:00–07:00 local time

Computer will enter sleep mode

60 minutes

15 minutes

Table 2. Current Default System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Client Power Management Policy Settings as applied globally, April 2011

Timing

Function

Machine power status

AC

Battery

All hours

Monitor will turn off

20 minutes

10 minutes

Core business hours
07:00–19:00 local time

Computer will enter sleep mode

60 minutes

15 minutes

Non-core business hours
19:00–07:00 local time

Computer will enter sleep mode

60 minutes

15 minutes

The Microsoft IT customized peak power settings plan has reduced energy consumption with little to no impact to most users. By default, all Microsoft IT–managed PCs are opted in to the CPM program, but users do have the option to opt out. The opt-out rate is currently less than 10 percent, with a majority users who rely on remote access for secure use of corporate assets as well as members of the development and test communities who run test scenarios around the clock.

The main reason these users have chosen to opt out is that there is currently no remote wake-up solution that will allow them to reliably wake up and access their PCs from home. Microsoft IT is piloting a "wake from sleep" solution that is anticipated to significantly reduce the opt-out rate when it is successfully implemented.

Users still have the flexibility to reduce their power settings even more than what is offered in the Microsoft IT customized peak plan. As long as the users' preferred settings meet or exceed the standard settings in the plan, System Center 2012 Configuration Manager will not apply the CPM policy to those machines. Microsoft IT continues to investigate the feasibility of using lower settings in its customized plan.

CPM has resulted in substantial savings. The more than 32 percent average energy consumption reduction per PC from FY10 to FY11, translated to an annual cost saving of $956,000 USD. There was a reduction of 10.62 million kilowatt hours (kWh), the equivalent of electricity use for 965 [1] homes for 1 year, or removing the CO2 emissions from about 2000 [2] passenger vehicles from the road for 1 year. The annual savings for FY12 are expected to exceed $1,000,000 USD and 11 million kWh.

Note: The power savings estimated in this section are based on:

[1] Calculated at 11,000 kWh per home per year.

[2] http://carbonfund.org/how-we-calculate (12,000 miles a year, 20.3 MPG average fuel economy)

Client Power Management in Japan

In the wake of last year's natural disaster and the resulting need to drastically reduce power consumption, Microsoft IT rolled out aggressive power settings for use on a temporary basis to be compliant with mandatory energy consumption rate cuts. Though the energy rate reductions are mandatory, they are refreshed quarterly, and users can choose to opt out.

Table 3 illustrates several of the settings used in the more stringent power savings plan that has been implemented.

Table 3. Power Management Settings in Japan

Function

Value

Display brightness

40%

Display dark after

2 min

Display off after

5 min

HDD off after

10 min

Sleep after

15 min

Although this was a temporary response to an extreme environmental disaster, it has been an ongoing learning experience about the impact of implementing more stringent power plan settings on users. Imposing overly aggressive custom power settings tends to increase the number of users who choose to opt out of using the Microsoft IT customized peak power settings plan. This experience helped Microsoft IT fine-tune its customized power plan settings to achieve an optimum balance between user productivity and efficiency goals. Microsoft IT's experience shows that most users at Microsoft are comfortable with a display timeout of 15 minutes and a sleep timeout of 30 minutes.

Technology Recycling Program

In addition to managing operational energy use, it is important to ensure that old PCs are disposed of in a timely, secure, and environmentally responsible manner. The Microsoft Technology Recycle program helps ensure that:

  • Equipment is properly retired and intellectual data is protected through secure data destruction

  • Systems that can be reused are sent to a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher, certified by Microsoft to professionally refurbish computers

  • Retired hardware is handled in an environmentally sound manner and that environmental compliance requirements have been met

  • Maximum financial returns are delivered

Reusable and recyclable hardware includes not only portable and desktop computers but also workstations, servers, monitors, printers, telecom equipment, networking devices, hard disks, cellular phones, and PDAs.

Microsoft Corporation's GPG established standards for IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) that are consistent with Microsoft's environmental principles and procures the services of ITAD suppliers that manage technology recycling for Microsoft. Those suppliers must adhere to zero landfill, zero incineration, and zero export of nonfunctioning equipment as well as be ISO14001 certified.

ITAD suppliers must recycle equipment that cannot be reused in accordance with local country legislations and be certified through an industry recognized recycling and reuse standards program such as responsible recycling (R2), e-Stewards, and WRAP.

In FY12, The Technology Recycle Program started to expand into several other countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Microsoft IT, in collaboration with the GPG, has begun to develop a comprehensive global asset disposal strategy that will help ensure that global assets are disposed of responsibly and environmental compliance requirements are met in all participating countries. Because of the volume of fully functional recycled client hardware in the United States, the Technology Recycle Program is a self-sustaining, cost-neutral endeavor.

Conclusion

Microsoft IT has successfully partnered with the Microsoft Environmental Sustainability team and GPG to mature and evolve the Microsoft IT Environmental Sustainability program. Some of these programs at Microsoft are starting to demonstrate that sustainability can be financially self-sustaining or better if pursued in a thoughtful way.

Putting into place programs that address the entire PC life cycle represents a new level in Microsoft IT environmental sustainability process maturity. Microsoft IT continues to put environmentally responsible strategies into action, and the goal of reducing the impact of technology through the use of technology is being realized daily at Microsoft.

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft's commitment to the environment visit http://www.microsoft.com/environment/

For more information about Microsoft products or services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Order Centre at (800) 933-4750. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information via the World Wide Web, go to:

http://www.microsoft.com

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/itshowcase

© 2012 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

This document is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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