April 4, 2011 – The Greening of U.S. Bank's happening on three fronts when it comes to its internal strategy: The bank's bringing new efficiencies to software, slimming down its work stations and wringing dramatically greater utilization out of its data centers.

Measuring success is the most important piece of ensuring its goals are matched with tangible action. Further to that, the bank announced in February that it's tapping Hara's environmental and energy management software system to identify, track and measure energy reduction initiatives across U.S. Bank properties. A central repository collects energy and environmental data on more than 2,200 U.S. Bank sites across 25 states and serves as a resource for pinpointing areas ripe for reductions, as well as standardizing reporting of results gleaned from the firm's energy reduction projects.

In another initiative, a "state of the art refresh" is underway, focused on modernizing office technologies throughout the bank's 3,050 regional branches, in-store and customer support facilities. The refresh is expected to enable $2.2 million in power savings, says Robert Erickson, the bank's svp of infrastructure services.

The effort includes the upgrade of nearly 87,000 hardware devices to equipment with lower power usage, more efficient management, and lower overall power consumption. The PCs, laptops, servers, multi-functional printers, and specialty banking printers are manufactured to meet or exceed the government's Energy Star ratings which deem efficient power consumption.

Workstations are also being upgraded: Nearly 20 percent of U.S. Bank's corporate desktops scheduled for upgrades this year and next will be replaced with 1,640 new laptops, Erickson says. Laptops are 20 to 30 percent more energy efficient than PCs, and U.S. Bank estimates a potential reduction in annual utility costs of nearly $358,528. A new 15-minute power monitor time-out standardized across more than 60,000 workstations could save the organization another $750,000 in annual energy costs, Erickson says. Finally, a limited pilot rollout of virtual desktops will also begin in the fourth quarter, and if successful more desktops will be virtualized in the first quarter of 2012.

In the bank's new data center, "green" cooling designs, including towers that draw in outside air and more efficient centrifugal chillers, remove heat from water more economically than traditional methods. "We believe that the overall chiller plant energy consumption will eliminate electrical energy costs of $637,000 per year," Erickson says.

On the real estate front, Lisa O'Brien, svp and director of environmental affairs at U.S. Bank, says the firm has aimed since 2007 to build new branches to LEED-compliant specifications. So far, nine new branches have cleared that bar, including banking centers in Oregon, Wisconsin, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Tennessee, Missouri and Nebraska.

Staff buy-in for all its sustainability initiatives is crucial: the bank regularly communicates information about its progress via its intranet, where it also shares detailed information about its environmentally-focused initiatives, goals and the desired impact.

U.S. Bank also provides online training about its IT energy strategy, which is included in the institution's centralized training curriculum and guidance for staff on the individual impact they can have on the bank's energy use.

This story originally appeared on Bank Technology News.

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