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CHIPS Articles: Green IT in the Department of the Navy

Green IT in the Department of the Navy
An interview with Ms. Thuy Lindsey the lead for IT Service Management and Green IT on the DON CIO Naval Networks and Enterprise Services Team
By CHIPS Magazine - July-September 2010
The "Department of the Navy Strategy for Green Information Technology (IT) Electronic Stewardship and Energy Savings Strategy" issued April 23, 2009, builds on the goals set in Executive Order 13423: "Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management" for federal agencies. Issued Jan. 24, 2007, EO 13423 established federal goals in the areas of energy efficiency, acquisition, renewable energy, toxic and hazardous chemical reduction, recycling, sustainable buildings, electronic equipment stewardship, vehicle fuel consumption, and water conservation.

The Navy is working on all fronts to meet the goals of EO 13423 and the Green IT Electronic Stewardship and Energy Savings Strategy. The DON Energy Program is on target to achieve the federal goals of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Executive Order 13423 for efficient use of energy and water resources and the increased use of renewable energy sources. The program avoids millions of dollars in annual commodity costs through innovation, investment in energy efficient technologies, and increased community awareness and participation. The DON has created a comprehensive energy program, with centralized resources and program management operating in partnership with regional and installation level resources and implementation. As a result of energy program initiatives worldwide, by 2008, the DON had avoided $400 million annually in energy costs, adjusted for inflation, compared to expenditures in 1985.

CHIPS asked Ms. Lindsey to talk about the DON's Green IT initiatives.

CHIPS: The Department of Defense Electronics Stewardship Implementation Plan, issued Feb. 27, 2008, recommends using the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) (www.epeat.net/), a system that helps purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes. The system currently covers desktop and laptop computers, thin clients, workstations and computer monitors. Are department personnel required to purchase electronics that meet specific environmental standards?

Lindsey: We incorporate EPEAT into procurement specifications for new purchases and purchase EPEAT registered products when they are available and feasible. We have promoted the purchase of duplex capable printers and multifunction devices. Additionally, new IT procurements and equipment replacements should consider energy use in operation, standby and off modes.

CHIPS: DoD's Implementation Plan also encourages users to take advantage of the Energy Star features that an electronic device may have. Results reported on the Energy Star website (www.energystar.gov/) indicate that Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved enough energy in 2009 to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 30 million cars — all while saving nearly $17 billion on their utility bills. Can the DON expect to see similar results? Is there a way to measure savings?

Lindsey: Yes, the DON Strategy for Green IT Electronic Stewardship and Energy Savings, issued April 23, 2009, requires that the department maintain an accurate and up-to-date inventory of IT devices and the energy specifications of those devices. It is important that the DON tracks the results to respond to the Office of Management and Budget Scorecards. This is the first step toward achieving the goals of Executive Order 13423, Section 2(h): 95 percent of electronic assets acquired are EPEAT registered; extend the useful life of electronic assets and 100 percent enablement of Energy Star features on electronic assets; and 100 percent reuse, donation, or recycling of electronics at end-of-life.

CHIPS: Can you discuss the DON's ongoing efforts to achieve its energy strategy centered on energy security, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship?

Lindsey: The federal government consumes only 2 percent of the total U.S. energy share. Of that 2 percent, the Defense Department consumes 93 percent, and the Navy consumes a quarter of the DoD’s total share. The Navy is seeking alternative fuels at a competitive price. At the Naval Energy Forum in McLean, Va., in October 2009, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, said he was committing 'the Navy and Marine Corps to meet bold, ambitious goals.'

These goals include considering the lifetime energy cost of the system when the Navy and Marine Corps award contracts during the acquisition process; by 2012, creating a 'Green Strike Group' composed of nuclear vessels and ships powered by biofuels and deploying that fleet by 2016; by 2015, increasing hybrid fuel and electric vehicles in its commercial vehicle fleet by 50 percent, and producing at least half the shore-based energy requirements from renewable sources; and by 2020, ensuring that at least 40 percent of the Navy's total energy consumption comes from alternative sources. They are ambitious goals; however, they are imperatives for energy security.

The Navy partnered with the Department of Energy for implementation of the Net Zero Energy Installation program and continually examined operations aimed at fostering best practices for using energy more efficiently.

It is our belief that the IM/IT community can play a significant role in the overall DON energy strategy, particularly, in the area of energy efficiency. As the lead IM/IT executive for the DON, the DON CIO can support this effort not only through the policy process, but also by being an active advocate for IT strategies and solutions that will help the DON deliver on its energy agenda.

One of the attractive aspects of green IT is that there are often associated savings in cost and/or carbon offsets that pay dividends, in addition to the energy savings. Some examples include use of cloud computing, telework, alternative work schedules, compressed work schedules and telepresence. For example, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, comprised of more than 4,000 employees, has 90 percent of its people on alternative work schedules. Every other Friday, the command minimizes the consumption of energy and reduces significantly its carbon footprint on the environment.

CHIPS: Why are the cloud computing and software as a service models considered energy efficient? Are there other technologies or service models that are energy efficient?

Lindsey: Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources, for example, networks, servers, storage, applications and services, that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

There are three delivery models for cloud computing: (1) software as a service (SaaS), which provides business applications running on a cloud infrastructure accessible on a client device via a Web browser; (2) platform as a service (PaaS), which is the deployment via the cloud of user-developed applications, databases, or management systems; and (3) infrastructure as a service (IaaS), which is the provisioning of computing resources for users on a regular basis.

These service models are considered energy efficient because they reduce time to add capacity, reduce overhead, streamline operating system management, facilitate technological currency, and reduce cost. This is done by consolidating the numerous servers, data storage devices and related equipment that support the enterprise's computing requirements. A typical global enterprise has numerous servers in offices literally across the world. All this equipment not only uses power to operate, but also produces heat, which entails more power requirements for cooling.

By offloading this computing power onto the cloud, and consolidating it into a much more efficient architecture, the distributed energy draw is dramatically reduced. The cloud’s computing centers are designed with energy and computing efficiency in mind.

The computing centers also run 24/7, so they can maintain higher usage rates as they meet the needs of different geographic regions throughout the 24-hour cycle. It is also cheaper to buy fewer, more powerful servers than many smaller ones. The end result is that you get more computing power with less energy used and less money expended per user than with the distributed model. Consolidating in the cloud will also provide the foundation for server and desktop virtualization which will prove invaluable for teleworkers.

CHIPS: What is the connection between cloud computing and telework?

Lindsey: Telework has great promise in helping the DON reduce its carbon footprint. For it to be truly successful, however, the telework experience has to enable the remote worker to be productive. To accomplish that goal, accessing the network must be easy, and all the information and application resources that are necessary for personnel to do their jobs must be readily available.

The IT architecture must deliver that functionality. Much of the existing IT environment in the DON, as well as other organizations, was developed on a model where the user was presumed to be in close proximity to the network with remote use viewed as the exception. That paradigm is changing.

Cloud computing and virtualization make the user’s physical location irrelevant for all intents and purposes while at the same time providing easy access to the required resources.

The DON, within the Naval Networking Environment (NNE) initiative, is active on two fronts in telework. First, through the DON CIO enterprise architecture team, the department is defining a target architecture that will enable a more effective remote user capability. Secondly, the team is assisting the Department of the Navy Assistant for Administration (DON/AA) with the DON telework policy. This will ensure that the proper guidance is in place so that teleworkers may be productive in a manner that also delivers information assurance.

CHIPS: What is telepresence, and how does it play in the green IT agenda?

Lindsey: Telepresence is the 21st-century methodology for remote collaboration. It delivers a high-quality, interactive environment that provides a near-real 'in-person' experience. As a result, telepresence is a much more attractive alternative to travel than the legacy video teleconferencing (VTC) technology that often sits unused. [Ed. Note, see "Going Mobile, Virtual Mobility Through Telepresence" in this issue for a detailed discussion.]

Consider the number of flights that DON personnel take just between Hawaii, San Diego and Washington. If just 5 percent of those trips could be replaced by telepresence meetings, the carbon offset would be significant. Even locally, there are numerous shuttle bus and car trips taken every day here in the National Capital Region between DON and DoD locations. A reduction in these trips would directly reduce our energy consumption and carbon contributions. As an added benefit, we would save travel money, increase productivity and decrease the hassles of travel for our personnel.

Thuy Lindsey is the lead for IT service management and green IT on the DON CIO naval networks and enterprise services team.

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CHIPS is an official U.S. Navy website sponsored by the Department of the Navy (DON) Chief Information Officer, the Department of Defense Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) and the DON's ESI Software Product Manager Team at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.

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