ENERGY STAR® is a U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency program
helping businesses and individuals fight global warming through
superior energy efficiency.
Free solution will reduce annual energy expenses by nearly $1 million
GlaxoSmithKline, the global healthcare group, was looking for
new ideas. So in late 2009, CIO Bill Louv challenged his staff to put
forward their most promising information technology management
innovations. The 10 best proposals would be presented to an IT
executive panel, with a chance at sponsorship to move forward.
GSK business analyst Matt Bartow was digging for ideas
when he came across an article in Computerworld magazine
about computer energy use. The article, "PC Energy Use: Still
Unmanaged," spurred him to look into what default sleep settings
were used at GSK. What he found was that the settings in use
were minimal. Monitors were set to sleep after 20 minutes of
inactivity, but no settings were in place to put inactive computers
into a low-power sleep mode.
Bartow drafted a proposal for implementing a companywide
computer power management (CPM) policy and for improving
GSK's existing monitor power management policy. He
emphasized how the effort would not only save the company
money, but significantly reduce its environmental impact.
The CPM/MPM proposal was selected for presentation, and
subsequently given the green light by GSK's IT executive panel.
Bartow then teamed up with Michael Freed berg, director of
Enterprise Personal Computing Solutions, to develop a pilot of
the project.
Estimating the Savings
One of the team's first challenges was to figure out how much
money CPM would save the company. With the help of the
ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT website (www.energystar.gov/
lowcarbonit), GSK developed preliminary savings estimates and
confirmed them with input from ENERGY STAR technical support
contractors. The team also consulted savings estimates from the
analyst group Forrester.
Though these estimates ultimately proved relatively accurate,
they were based on typical commercial computer usage patterns
observed by researchers at US EPA and Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory. Matt wanted to base his estimates
specifically on how computers were used at GSK, so he included
questions about computer use in his post-pilot survey. The
responses enabled the team to convert this knowledge into
estimated C02 reduction and cost savings.
Activating Power Management
Settings in Windows XP
You can set power management settings
through a logon script using the command
line utility powercfg.exe, which is included with Microsoft
Windows XP (SP2). It can be used to configure most power
options. An XP workstation has multiple power schemes, each
with its own custom settings, but only one can be the "active"
In Windows XP, only Local Administrators and Power Users have
the rights (by default) to change these settings. It is possible,
however, to give members of the Users group enhanced rights
to the registry. Adding these rights will also give users the ability
to change their Power Policies via the Power Options applet in
Control Panel.
For more information and examples of a batch script forWindows
XP, see http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=power_mgt.
pr_power_mgt_powerconfig on the ENERGY STAR website.
To confirm these estimates, the team compared them to those of
a manufacturing facility in the United Kingdom. The U.K. facility's
estimates of kilowatts used per hour were roughly the same, so
the U.S. team felt its estimates were vindicated.
Pilot Program and Survey
In March 2010, the company began its CPM pilot program, which
lasted two weeks and was conducted across different user
groups. The company solicited volunteers, and received 550
responses. The volunteers received a link via e-mail or were
directed to a webpage to perform the installation of a utility that
would modify their computers' power profile.
The company considered using one of the many commercially
available software tools dedicated to managing computer power
settings, but chose instead to work with something they already
had on hand: a command line utility called powercfg.exe, which
is included in Microsoft Windows XP, Service Pack 2. One clear
advantage of this solution, of course, was that it did not require
any additional investment in software. For more information on
powercfg.exe, see the sidebar, "Activating Power Management
Settings in Windows XP."
September 2010

The company's post-pilot survey was critical for a successful
CPM implementation. Of the 550 people participating in the
pilot, more than half responded to the survey. These 225-plus
responses confirmed what Matt Bartow and Michael Freedberg
had assumed: that CPM had very little to no negative impact on
employees' work.
In addition, the survey was used to gauge typical computer usage
patterns at GSK, which would enable Matt and Michael to better
estimate cost savings from their computer power management
initiative. What GSK learned is that many users were leaving their
desktops powered on at night and during the weekends.
Following the pilot, GSK's IT department collaborated with the
corporate sustainability team to recruit additional volunteers.
Using the team's internal website, IT was able to get 4,000
additional employees to voluntarily use the computer power
management utility. A full rollout began in late July and wrapped
up in August 2010, bringing CPM to a total of 92,000 computers.
Keeping Sleeping PCs Updated and Secure
While many large organizations face the added challenge of
remotely waking up their sleeping computers in order to install
periodic Windows security patches and software updates, GSK did
not. Because a substantial portion of their computers are laptops
that users mighttake home on any given night, GSK patches PCs
during normal business hours. To ensure minimal disruption, they
allow end-users to initially defer updates until a more convenient
time (e.g., lunchtime or during a meeting).
GSK manages software updates and patches with Microsoft
Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, which it has outfitted
with an in-house "wrapper" that provides end users the option of
selecting an early install or deferring the installation of software
updates. For CPM, the company created a wrapper in a standard
scripting tool that works in conjunction with powercfg.exe (the
native Windows power management utility) and pushed the update
to systems using SMS. The sleep settings used are 20 minutes for
monitors, 15 minutes for the hard disk, with a 60-minute system
standby and 120-minute hibernation.
One notable advantage for GSK is its global standardization on
client computer operating systems, hardware and software.
The company outfits all of its PCs with Windows XP, SP3. These
machines are also Energy Star qualified models, which means
they consume less power in active and in sleep modes than typical
models. As a result, GSK's desktop computers consume only about
46 watts when active (compared to nearly 70 watts for a standard
model), while laptops consume roughly 14 watts (compared to
more than 21 watts for a standard model).'
Groups and Global Tools
Of course, not all systems can be put to into sleep mode. GSK
excluded systems that are in use 24/7 from CPM, such as
laboratory computers that control research equipment or perform
overnight data processing, as well as computers that stream video
communications throughout the global organization. In addition,
there are LCD monitors in common areas such as cafeterias
and elevators that were excluded. Conveniently, IT staff did
not have to set up new Active Directory user groups in order
to accommodate these exclusions. Instead, they were able to
leverage standard "focused exclusions" already utilized by SMS
2003 for patches and updates.
An additional challenge that the company faced involved its global
defragmentation tool, which had been deployed earlier in the year.
Because not all end users have administrator rights on their PCs,
employees could not run the defrag tool at their own convenience.
To ensure that the defrag tool ran only when it would not interfere
with user productivity, the department cleverly launched the
defrag tool in conjunction with a screen saver. This ensured that
the defrag tool only ran after the machine was idle for 15 minutes.
Only one problem: if the monitor was set to sleep after 15 minutes,
it could interfere with the defrag tool, which kicked off at the same
time. The solution was to set the monitor to go into standby after
an additional 5 minutes (a total of 20 minutes of inactivity). After
the defragmentation is complete, the system will go into standby
and then hibernate after the system has been inactive for 60 and
120 minutes, respectively.
The Big Payoff
GSK expects to save a lot of money from its CPM efforts. The
company estimates it will save $989,317 a year, or $10.75 per
computer. ENERGY STAR technical support contractors note that
these figures probably understate actual savings, because GSK's
baseline estimate of power consumption (that is, energy use
prior to computer power management) was based on end-user
responses to survey questions about how frequently they shut
down their PCs. People tend to overstate how often they turn off
their PCs, when in reality they frequently forget. In addition, since
turning off your computer is generally perceived as the "right
thing to do," people tend to — consciously or subconsciously
— exaggerate how often they do it. A 2004 Lawrence Berkeley
National Lab Report2found that only 36% of computers got turned
off each night in a sampling of commercial offices. (A more
accurate way to measure baseline energy consumption is to meter
the power used by a sample set of computers selected at random.
Of course this is not always possible.)
How does GSK's power management initiative stack up for the
environment? The company's efforts will save an estimated 5,291
metric tons of C02 per year — that's almost 157 pounds of C02 per
user annually. According to EPA estimates, this is the equivalent
of taking 1,012 passenger vehicles off the road (based on annual
C02 emissions from consuming 595,178 gallons of gasoline). Or,
equal to ridding the planet of the amount of carbon sequestered
each year by 1,128 acres of pine or fir forest. You can use the
ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT savings calculator to estimate your
own CPM savings here: www.energystar.gov/lowcarbonit.
' Based on EPA data and field measurements conducted by Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory and EC OS consulting. Figures for desktop computers do not
include power consumed by monitors.
2 "After-hours Power Status of Office Equipment and Inventory of Miscellaneous
Plug-Load Equipment," Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, 2004. See http://enduse.lbl.gov/
September 2010