Green IT Leader Surprise: Kaiser Permanente

The top ranking green IT organization of 2011 isn’t a computer company, it’s a national healthcare provider. So says Computerworld in its latest Top 12 List of Green-IT Organizations, which has Kaiser Permanente sitting at the top of the heap in the “Users” division. Companies were judged on a variety of green IT practices including reduced waste, carbon dioxide emissions and energy use.

Kaiser Permanente noted that was the only nationwide healthcare provider to make the list. One of the company’s notable achievements was at its Napa data center. By using cooling efficiency measures, electricity costs savings at the data center were $450,000, and the company also earned a $300,000 incentive from the local utility. The same data center was also awarded an Energy Star rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its cooling efficiency.

Kaiser_Recurrent_Solar

image via Kaiser Permanente

“A tag-team effort by Kaiser Permanente’s data center IT and facilities groups delivered a one-two punch to energy consumption in the company’s three data centers this year,” Computerworld wrote, “cutting an eye-popping 7.2 million kilowatt-hours of power from overall data center operations.”

As part of the organization’s effort to make the switch to electronic health records, the company has been able to reduce waste and decrease carbon footprints. According to company statistics, Kaiser avoided the use of 1,044 tons of paper for medical charts annually and eliminated carbon dioxide emissions by 92,000 tons by replacing face-to-face visits with virtual visits.

Despite using energy-consuming computers, Kaiser said the changes had a positive net effect: An Additional 7,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided by filling prescriptions online, and the use of toxic chemicals like silver nitrate were reduced by digitizing and archiving x-ray images and scans.

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Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.

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