Earth Day 2011: A change in perspective….

My job with Intel IT just keeps getting better; I have the opportunity to share new information, new approaches and new ideas from our own IT organization.  Many of the stories I share are projects from my colleagues that are large and can take many months or even years to implement, like our Rethinking Information Security to Improve Business Agility paper that outlines a radical five-year redesign of our security architecture.

That’s business as usual and it’s fun and fast-paced.  However, as Earth Month begins many of us, including me, think about the impacts we can make as individuals too. I thought it would be appropriate to share this story from my colleague, Karen who manages Intel IT Sustainability communications and messaging for our employees. Karen’s story is about just how powerful the combination of talent and passion can be, even when it’s to the power of one!

Below, in Karen’s words, is about the difference one person can make for IT sustainability…

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Think globally, act locally”.  It’s a pretty familiar mantra for guiding environmentally responsible behavior.  Just recently our IT Sustainability team here at Intel got a quick refresher course on just how well it can actually work, courtesy of one of our program team co workers.

As a team, we’d been discussing helping employees become aware of their individual energy footprints (Computer/monitor energy consumption/carbon emission/paper usage etc).  We were thinking globally and asking great questions like “What’s the best way to report progress?”  “Will employees feel like we are “snooping” over the network on their computer or printer use habits?”… You get the picture.

One of our team members, Randy, was inspired to  literally act locally, specifically to see how much info the  local machine could report to its user about energy use.  He went to work on it, and what he came back with was an awesome desktop “gadget” that a user can self install to provide visibility via a simple score into energy behavior (how often the machine goes to sleep, how many jobs are sent through the local print queue etc) and offers tips and tricks to improve energy use and reduce waste.

Did it happen overnight?  Of course not, we did take the gadget through all required due diligence and testing but it was still pretty quick and everyone we worked with as we moved through normal process was impressed by how simple and effective the concept was.

Did it make a difference?  Yes! Today it’s officially known as the “Green Gadget” and it is up on our internal “gadget store” for user “pull” install.  And yes, users are installing it and talking or blogging about it and the impact it has.  I can say personally that since I have installed it on my own machine maintaining a good “score” has been really important to me, I was surprisingly reluctant to print out a series of test images for a major event recently because I wanted to keep my good energy score!   Other users of the gadget have reported making similar adjustments to their habits in order to manage their scores, it is driving positive change. 

Employees take their impacts on energy use seriously here, and the Green Gadget is a great example of how one person successfully used his programming skill, technical curiosity and passion for conservation took local action that is literally driving thought, conversation and change globally within Intel.