With increased awareness — and regulation — of issues such as energy security and climate change, more and more corporations are working to reduce their carbon emissions and consumption of energy and natural resources. But how do you know if your efforts are paying off? Software company CA hopes to help answer this question with a new line of products, called ecoSoftware, officially unveiled Monday. The line includes ecoGovernance, which helps evaluate and track companies’ sustainability initiatives, and ecoMeter, which manages energy use from data centers and other facilities.
EcoGovernance helps manage a company’s sustainability strategy by comparing how well different potential initiatives would help meet companies’ goals, as well as existing and coming regulations, said Terrence Clark, CA’s senior vice president and general manager for ecoSoftware. It sounds simple, but it can be a major task considering that some companies have thousands of ideas to capture, categorize and sift through, and different departments can make individual decisions about what to do.
Once a company selects goals, such as lowering its carbon emissions, water, waste or energy use, employees or other stakeholders enter short descriptions of their ideas into the system, including the expected benefits. The software highlights the ideas that deserve more analysis and helps calculate the expected returns on investments. It also enables stakeholders to track what happens with their ideas, and after a decision is made, monitors the results, Clark said.
In an internal test at CA, ecoGovernance found that one initiative the company already had under way — converting a parking lot into a park for employees at a cost of approximately $500,000 — turned out to be low on the list, Clark said: “Had we had this software, we probably wouldn’t have done it.”
Meanwhile, ecoMeter monitors — and helps reduce — energy use from devices at data centers and other buildings, the company says. The software tracks electricity use, as well as temperature, air flow and other variables that impact electricity consumption, and notifies customers of changes or takes agreed-upon action when consumption reaches certain levels.
In a data center, for example, servers, cooling units, generators, backup power supplies, and many other pieces of equipment all use energy, and it’s often unclear how much energy each of these parts is using. “A lot of times, there’s a lack of a lot of understanding because they might have one or two meters from a utility that measure the electricity going into the building, but they’re not seeing very clearly what [appliances] or groups are using that energy,” said Peter Gilbert, vice president of ecoSoftware at CA.
It’s a critical issue because data centers consume significant amounts of electricity. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that data centers used up 1.5 percent of all U.S. electricity consumption in 2006, at a total cost of more than $4.5 billion. Data centers could use twice as much energy by 2011. In some cases, utilities have prohibited data centers from drawing larger amounts of electricity from the grid, meaning that companies that want to store more data there have no choice but to find ways to do more with less.
Of course, CA faces plenty of competition in both the energy-management and carbon-management space. (We included CA on our list of 22 carbon management software firms you should know about earlier this month.)
But it’s a good sign that ecoSoftware has managed to score some customers. On Monday, CA announced that IT services company Datotel has begun rolling out ecoMeter at its data center. And CA said back in September that grocery retailer Tesco had become an ecoSoftware customer, too.