In 2009, local governments continued to reduce energy costs in their information technology (IT) departments, according to a report released by Vernon Hills, Ill.-based CDW Government (CDW-G). However, fewer of them had energy reduction plans in place than in the previous year, a trend that some officials and CDW-G say should change.

Fifty-one percent of the local governments surveyed with defined and enforced IT energy plans in place said they had reduced IT energy costs in 2009, up from 46 percent in 2008. At the same time, 42 percent reported having an energy management strategy in place, down six percentage points from 48 percent in 2008. The report says that implementing IT energy guidelines maximizes savings.

Orlando, Fla.'s plan has helped the city take an overarching approach to reducing energy costs and saving money, says Mayor Buddy Dyer. In 2007, Dyer instituted an energy-efficiency plan called “Green Works Orlando.” As part of the program, the city replaced 3,000 aging desktop and laptop computers with newer, more efficient models, a move that is expected to save the city $7,400 in energy expenses every year. The city also is designing all new city buildings to comply with the Washington-based U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Environmental and Energy Designs standards.

Hutto, Texas, which saw its population grow from 1,200 at the start of the decade to about 17,000 now, realized in 2005 it needed to maintain its IT infrastructure without significantly increasing costs. Without a specific energy plan in place at the time, the city embarked on several measures to stem energy costs before it got too late. They included virtualizing three of the city's 15 servers (partitioning one physical server computer into multiple “virtual” servers), replacing older computers and purchasing Energy Star-certified equipment. The city now is beginning to formulate a concrete energy plan to save more money and further reduce energy costs, says Tim Howell, Hutto's IT manager. “I can see us having specific energy plans down the road that will call for us not to exceed purchased energy levels, annual energy reduction goals, and renewable energy goals,” he says.

Bryan Yurcan is a New York-based freelance writer.