Cisco has won the prestigious 2013 Uptime Institute 2013 Green Enterprise IT AwardTM (GEIT) in the Green Digital Infrastructure Strategy category. Uptime Institute grants GEIT Awards each year to companies that significantly improve energy productivity and resource use in IT.

A cross-functional team at Cisco that included lab management, engineering, IT, and workplace resources won for our LabEnergy Management program—an internal, worldwide, energy-conservation program that is reducing electricity consumption in our labs. Although representing only 10 percent of our real estate footprint, our labs consume more than 60 percent of our electricity and are critical to the success of our engineering, service, and sales organizations.


Cisco’s LabEnergy Management program addresses three improvement opportunities:

  1. Infrastructure: Improving air flow management, ventilation, cooling, and similar building infrastructure systems
  2. Lab Technology: Installing smart power distribution units (PDUs) to monitor power and control the use of our lab equipment
  3. Change Management: Deploying multiple employee engagement strategies to educate our employees and provide incentives for labs to actively monitor and conserve energy

I had the privilege to be an integral part of the program management team and was personally involved in many aspects of the program. All three of the objectives were important to the success of the program, but the change management track was crucial. Our lab employees manage the equipment in our labs on a daily basis, and without their buy-in and commitment, the program would not have been a success.


Because of that, we deployed a number of innovative employee engagement strategies, such as:

  • Energy Champion Program. We recruited employees who work in the labs to be “on-the-ground” change agents and help drive a more personal energy conservation message throughout Cisco.
  • Digital Signage Program. In the majority of our largest labs, we installed digital signs that show informative content such as lab energy consumption statistics, tips on how to save energy in labs, and winners of energy conservation awards.
  • Enterprise Collaboration Platform. We utilized Cisco’s WebEx Social technology and set up an online community specifically for the LabEnergy Management program, which allowed lab employees to network with one another, ask questions, get feedback, submit ideas, and stay informed on the overall program.
  • Energy Management Plans and Performance Goals. We developed detailed energy management plans and performance goals that labs and employees could adopt and get credit for their energy conservation accomplishments from their own business unit.
  • Rewards and Recognition. We created regular opportunities throughout the year for labs and employees to be rewarded and recognized by their peers for exemplary energy conservation efforts. For example, we recently recognized the employees of 8 labs that were all able to achieve at least 60 percent energy savings during Cisco’s 2013 year-end shutdown period.
  • Education and Training. We created 7 online courses (so far) that provide detailed training on the various tracks of the program and teach employees how to participate in the program.
  • Program Branding and Marketing. To increase program adoption and participation, we created a formal marketing and communications plan that included imagery, taglines, and messaging campaigns.

The LabEnergy Management initiative started in late 2011 and, when completed later this year, will avoid approximately US$9 million in electricity costs and 30,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. This program is also key for Cisco to achieve its latest corporate energy and GHG reduction goals.

We presented our LabEnergy Management program to attendees at the Uptime Institute Symposium in Santa Clara, California, on May 16, 2013.  Our presentation and detailed case study on the program is available at the Uptime Institute’s Green Enterprise IT Awards website.


Andy Smith

Global Sustainability Manager

Cisco Workplace Resources (WPR)