Green Information Technology: Reuse and benefit

Group Informatics aims to enable innovation at Roche by providing tools and systems – but also keep them ecologically sustainable.

Green IT is neither a buzzword nor a project that is doing the rounds within Roche IT. It’s a mindset that needs to be instilled to support sustainability efforts at Roche. And these are being pursued with great vigor.

In the course of last year’s BlackBerry replacement exercise with iPhones, around 18’000 devices were returned to local IT-Service Desks and with that started a global recycling program. Now, employees can return used mobiles, iPads and accessories directly to all Service Desks at Roche. At sites without Service Desks, devices can be handed over to local IT departments or persons in charge of IT. A security-audited company acquires the devices, double-checks whether all data has been deleted and prepares them for recycling. Whereas most devices are being disassembled to single components for recycling, others are being resold for further usage. A similar concept is also in place for printers, print cartridges and other such materials to avoid filling up rubbish with IT equipment.

Another example of Green IT shows up with the optimization of Data Centers, which have high electricity consumptions. This can be reduced with better cooling techniques as implemented at the Indianapolis site for instance. By using the cool climate of Indiana during spring, winter and autumn, about 200 days of cooling are provided free of charge. Those are being utilized by organizing the server racks in hot and cold aisle rows while ensuring that cooling air from outside is delivered to the servers. Furthermore, heat that is being produced by servers can be retained with sophisticated energy reclamation systems and be used to heat adjoining Roche buildings. This is happening at Roche in Kaiseraugst for example, where also the new cooling solution is in place. With both approaches, yearly energy savings of about 6’000 megawatt hours can be reached at the Kaiseraugst site which mean a cost reduction of roughly 750’000 Swiss Francs.

Sustainable efforts pay off

More contributions to sustainability are being made with the use of High Density Data Centers (HDDC). Their compute power per square meter is 24 times higher than the one of traditional Data Centers. This means that they need 24 times less space to be cooled and maintained. HDDCs are not just more efficient because of their new technologies; they also need 25 percent less power compared to other systems. HDDCs have already been introduced across all strategic Data Centers like Shanghai, Singapore, South San Francisco or Mannheim. This effort pays off, also from a financial perspective. Since introducing HDDCs at Roche savings of roughly eleven million US Dollars have been achieved, due to factors like fewer software licenses, less cooling and electricity costs.

Even video conferencing tools like WebEx are chosen with the intention to help reducing business related travels by offering alternative options of collaborating virtually. The initiative SmartMeeting for example aims to provide information and tools to make collaboration more efficiently while reducing the demand for air travels. Starting in 2011, Group Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) and Group IT began partnering with leaders in Diabetes Care, Quality, Regulatory and HR to pilot SmartMeeting strategies and tools. A summary of pilot studies involving just five leaders and their teams showed how much potential those efforts have: Within one year, 15 face-to-face meetings were eliminated, combined or converted to alternate meetings, 62 trips were avoided and 156 productivity days saved. Roughly 230’000 US Dollars were saved, as well as 462’000 air miles which corresponds with about 9’400 gallons jet fuel.

Group IT also offers solutions to minimize paper and toner consumption, whilst at the same time providing a fully managed printing solution. This goal is being worked on at various affiliates by providing shared group printing systems called “Follow-me”. One benefit is that employees can print from any printer in their site location without needing single printers allocated for every employee. Around 50 percent less office printers are now in use at the Basel and Kaiseraugst site what leads to toner reduction of also 50 percent and a paper reduction of more than ten percent. Moreover, in Switzerland paychecks are only being sent to employees’ homes, if they state this explicitly within the CHRIS portal. The systems presetting provides only online access to paychecks. With that, the use of about 144’000 pages of paper and envelops can be avoided per year at Swiss sites.

Tags: Sustainability, Environment, Culture