October 23, 2011

Named No. 1 Green-IT Organization by Computerworld

Computerworld recognizes organization for excellence in IT practices that benefit the environment

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kaiser Permanente announced today that it ranks No.1 on IDG’s Computerworld magazine Top 12 List of Green-IT Organizations for 2011, a ranking that considers applicants from many industries. Kaiser Permanente was the only national health care provider to receive this rating and is recognized for its implementation of green IT practices that reduce waste, carbon dioxide emissions, energy use and the use of toxic chemicals.

“We know that healthy communities and healthy people go hand in hand. Our IT practices can hurt or help the environment, and we’ve chosen the latter,” said Philip Fasano, executive vice president and chief information officer, Kaiser Permanente. “Because of our commitment to healthy communities, we've upgraded all data center hardware to reduce power and cooling usage. That’s just one thing of many we’ve done to move toward greener IT practices.”

Fasano points to Kaiser Permanente’s innovative work to increase cooling efficiency at its Napa data center as a shining example of the health care organization’s innovative green achievements. The project resulted in an electricity cost savings of $450,000 and a $300,000 incentive from the local utility service. This same data center received a 2010–2011 Energy Star rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its innovations in cooling efficiency. At the time of the award, Kaiser Permanente was the only national health care provider to receive this rating. The health care organization also received the Uptime Institute’s 2011 Green Enterprise IT Award for developing a new way to measure optimized cooling in data centers.

A recent Kaiser Permanente study published in Health Affairs found that the comprehensive use of health IT by Kaiser Permanente:

  • Avoided the use of 1,044 tons of paper for medical charts annually
  • Eliminated up to 92,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions by replacing face-to-face patient visits (and the associated travel) with virtual visits
  • Avoided 7,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions by filling prescriptions online
  • Reduced the use of toxic chemicals, such as silver nitrate and hydroquinone, by 33.3 tons by digitizing and archiving x-ray images and other scans
  • Resulted in a positive net effect on the environment despite increased energy use and additional waste from the use of personal computers

These positive impacts are a result of Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, the organization’s electronic health record, which connects 8.8 million members with 16,000 physicians.

Kaiser Permanente’s green IT achievements are part of the organization’s broader environmental stewardship efforts, which include groundbreaking energy conservation, sustainable design and construction innovations. Through its green building practices, Kaiser Permanente saves more than $10 million per year and has eliminated the purchase and disposal of 40 tons of harmful chemicals in its facilities. In 2010, Kaiser Permanente launched a Sustainability Scorecard, the first effort in health care to evaluate the sustainability of each medical item it purchases while also encouraging suppliers across the industry to provide greener products.

“Kaiser Permanente recognizes the health of the environment directly affects individual and community health,” said Kathy Gerwig, vice president and environmental stewardship officer at Kaiser Permanente. “By reducing waste and energy use in our IT practices, we’re demonstrating our commitment to greening our operations and reducing our carbon footprint.”

Additional Kaiser Permanente green IT initiatives include:

  • Implementing more virtualized servers, which significantly reduces power and cooling demand
  • Installing more efficient network devices to save energy and better manage network traffic
  • Exclusively purchasing energy-efficient laptops, desktops and monitors
  • Responsibly reusing or recycling assets
  • Encouraging virtual meetings and events, which in 2010 helped the IT department avoid 151,187 car roundtrips and 26,680 air roundtrips, the equivalent of avoiding 14,888 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

The Top Green-IT Organizations recognition is part of Computerworld’s annual Top Green-IT Organizations feature, which was published in the Oct. 24 issue of Computerworld and online at Computerworld.com. For the fourth year in a row, Computerworld set out to identify organizations that are implementing smart, efficient strategies to achieve “green IT.” The Top 12 Green-IT Users and the Top 12 Green-IT Vendors lists were recognized.

“Many of the organizations recognized in our fourth annual Top Green-IT issue have woven energy-saving initiatives into the fabric of their IT strategies,” said Scot Finnie, editor in chief, Computerworld. “These top organizations are tapping the collective brainpower of their IT staffs to capitalize on existing technologies that lower energy use and seek out new methods to better control their carbon footprints.”