My first week in Louisville, Kentucky as an EDF Climate Corps fellow at Humana was a blur.
I learned more about data centers than an average person would ever care to know. Terms like hot-aisle, cold-aisle, CRAC's (computer room air conditioners), PDU's (power distribution units) and UPS's (Uninterruptible Power Sources) galloped by me faster than thoroughbreds at Churchill Downs.
Sustainability for the Health Care sector: Data Centers
My mission this summer as an EDF Climate Corps fellow is to examine energy efficiency investments for Humana's two data centers in the Louisville area. Data centers are facilities which house computer systems that support a business' core operations. In Humana's case, computers are essential in ensuring that clients receive healthcare as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
The challenge: Supporting Humana's mission of perfect service while guiding the company on environmental stewardship.
As I walked through the server racks that first week and saw all the blinking lights, I thought about the millions of clients whose vital medical information is stored on these machines. These two buildings use more energy than any other facility in Humana's real estate portfolio and are crucial to the core operations of ensuring that clients receive vital health care.
Helping Humana, Helping Kentucky
During one of the first sessions at EDF's Climate Corps training last month, EDF expert Emily Reyna presented a graph from leading nonprofit think-tank Rocky Mountain Institute showing each state's adjusted electric productivity, a measure of how much GDP is generated for each kilowatt hour of energy used. What stood out was that Kentucky ranked second to last in this productivity metric – dramatically lower than every other state where Climate Corps fellows are placed.
This means that through my work this summer, I have the opportunity to not only help Humana but the entire state of Kentucky in closing this electric productivity gap.
The Weeks Ahead...
Working with an organization that already displays a clear commitment to sustainability doesn't make my job any easier.
Shortly before I arrived, Humana received the Energy Star certification for its corporate headquarters, designed by renowned architect Michael Graves. In addition, the IT department has already received industry accolades for building a super-efficient data center.
My charge is to seek out further capital improvements and continue to build the business case for energy efficiency. As I go through this journey, I will be blogging about my projects and findings throughout the summer.
I look forward to seeing Humana and the environment in the winner's circle.
--By John-Paul Fontelo, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Humana, MBA Candidate at The University of University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business
Previously on The Intern Diary:
Looking for Energy Efficiency Solutions at Booz Allen
More on CSR and Sustainability @ Humana:
Day in the Life: Virginia Kelly Judd, Executive Director, Humana FoundationWhen an Employer's CSR Philosophy Becomes Personal
How Humana Created a Cross-Sectional CSR Function