HP expands energy and carbon monitoring services

HP is expanding its consulting services to data centers, buildings and supply chains

Hewlett-Packard on Thursday announced a new portfolio of services to determine and implement ways to cut energy costs and carbon emissions across organizations.

HP's Energy and Sustainability Management (ESM) program will include services to monitor and report energy usage and carbon emissions in buildings, data centers and supply chains, said Ken Hamilton, director of global energy and sustainability services at HP's Technology Consulting group. The services will also include determination of financial models to balance business operations with energy use and sustainability.

"Organizations are investing in point-specific opportunities," Hamilton said. For example, companies are spending on specific cooling techniques in data centers, but HP wants companies to think across the board to include building facilities and the supply chain. Such an expansion could help build a more accurate business model to cut energy costs and mitigate emissions.

The services include an audit of materials, parts, water and waste management. The program also offers specific monitoring and reporting services through tools such as analytics software for water usage, energy efficiency and carbon emissions.

The services could be useful for companies looking to squeeze more savings out of existing business operations, said Michael Kanellos, senior analyst at Greentech Media.

"Energy and natural resources are going up in price," Kanellos said. "It could be a larger share of the operating expenses."

There is a growing interest in evaluating and applying geothermal energy alternatives into business operations, Hamilton said. The services could help a company choose options for renewable energy sources based on requirements driven by either regulatory or company policy. HP then helps evaluate costs, benefits and operational factors of the options and provides recommendations, Hamilton said.

The usefulness of HP's services varies, Greentech's Kanellos said. For example, retailers may look to cut costs and be environmentally friendly by reducing packaging material like Styrofoam, which may not be in line with HP's expertise.

HP could however provide its distribution, data center and operations expertise to companies. Many data centers in New York City are being told that they can't get more energy because of power caps, Kanellos said. To stick within power limits, companies are virtualizing more applications or switching to power-efficient air conditioners and cooling systems. HP's services could help companies tweak operations to stay within specific power caps, Kanellos said.

HP already provides services related to the design, planning and construction of data centers. The company also sells services associated with the operation of data centers and buildings, including mechanical, electrical, and heating and cooling designs.

But the company wants to move from the data center further up the enterprise, Hamilton said. As the world's largest PC maker, HP has a strong supply chain, and it is taking that expertise to help companies reduce energy costs associated with shipping, sourcing of material and manufacturing. The company is also extending its internal engineering and research resources to provide monitoring and reporting tools.

For example, HP's supply chain analysis service includes a lifecycle analysis capability based on a sustainability assessment tool developed by HP Labs. This tool helps evaluate multiple aspects of a product or building, including energy, water, waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The evaluation is based on factors such as materials, operational requirements, environmental impact, safety, costs and carbon intensity.

HP is also using tools from partners like specialist software vendor Hara to provide environmental and energy software management.

Hara is a hot company and could be acquired over time, especially after carbon reporting becomes a common practice worldwide, Kanellos said.

The more energy a company uses, the larger the carbon footprint is, Kanellos said. Not every company is required to report their carbon footprint in the U.S., but it is the right thing to do, Kanellos said.

"It's good practice for when we have carbon regulations," Kanellos said.

Reporting a company's carbon footprint is also a good idea as there are business risks associated with not being environmentally friendly, HP's Hamilton said.

To spread awareness about energy efficiency and carbon footprint, an HP service called the Energy and Sustainability Discovery Workshop has established a forum where decision makers in a company gather to gain a common understanding of goals on energy and sustainability.

HP competitors SAP and Cisco also offer tools and services to help companies monitor and reduce carbon emissions. SAP in 2009 acquired Clear Standards to offer carbon measurement. Cisco offers the EnergyWise portfolio of products to track and monitor energy usage and requirements.

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