In keeping with its mission to become as sustainable as possible, the Kaiser Permanente health system, Oakland, Calif., has made cutting energy use related to its IT department a high priority.

Kaiser's efforts recently were recognized by Computerworld magazine, which ranked the health care system No. 1 on its Top 12 List of Green-IT Organizations for 2011. The award recognizes Kaiser Permanente for its implementation of green IT practices that reduce waste, carbon dioxide emissions, energy use and the use of toxic chemicals.

The IT initiatives include:

  • Decommissioning or virtualizing more than 1,700 servers, which reduced power and cooling demand.
  • Installing more efficient network devices to save energy and better manage network traffic.
  • Purchasing only energy-efficient laptops, desktops and monitors.
  • Reusing or recycling IT assets.
  • Increasing cooling efficiency at its data centers, which saved $450,000 in electricity bills and earned a $300,000 rebate from a local utility service.

"By reducing waste and energy use in our IT practices, we're demonstrating our commitment to greening our operations and reducing our carbon footprint," says Kathy Gerwig, vice president and environmental stewardship officer at Kaiser Permanente.

Moving to an electronic health record system, called HealthConnect, enabled Kaiser Permanente to avoid the use of 1,044 tons of paper for medical charts annually.