Operational Impact
Promoting Energy Efficiency

Promoting Energy Efficiency and Reducing Our Carbon Footprint, with a Goal of Reducing Our Carbon Emissions to Zero by 2020

This year we reduced the carbon footprint from our offices by 19 percent – well exceeding our initial target to reduce the footprint from our offices by 7 percent from a 2005 baseline by 2012. We accomplished this entirely by deploying our global Carbon Reduction Framework, which challenges us to design, construct and operate our facilities and technology as efficiently as possible. 

Recognizing the impact of our data center emissions, in 2012 we went beyond our initial target by reducing the carbon footprint from both our offices and data centers by 10 percent from a 2005 baseline. We achieved this additional  reduction with the purchase of a balanced mix of high-quality, credible Gold Standard and Voluntary Carbon Standard offsets that support the growth of renewable energy markets where we operate. We have committed to be carbon neutral across our facilities by 2020.

Maximizing the Efficiency of Our Offices

We reduced the carbon footprint of our offices by 19% through improved efficiency. Significant drivers contributing to the reduction were consolidating our offices into energy-efficient, LEED-certified space and optimizing how we use our space – from modifying lighting and temperature levels to decreasing the area-per-staff allocation to managing the power utilized by our desktop PCs.

Optimizing existing buildings
On average, we manage over 30 efficiency optimization projects per year in our offices, such as raising temperature set points, installing occupancy sensors and additional LED lighting, and reducing lighting levels. In 2012, we invested $2.6m in energy efficiency retrofits that we anticipate will result in carbon savings of over 6,400 mt and cost savings of $1.9m in less than three years.

Using space smartly
Since the introduction of our Environmental Policy Framework, the firm has also increased the efficiency of our real estate by adopting the Global Workplace Standard.  As a result, the floor area per seat has decreased by 25 percent and more, resulting in reduced energy costs and material use for the firm broadly.

The Global Workplace Standard includes an open floor design and reduction of enclosed offices: desks are located along the perimeter, and offices along the building core. These efforts enhance our operational efficiency, promote collaboration and communication by increasing our people’s access to each other and improve our working environment by increasing access to daylight and views.

As a follow-on strategy, we are piloting new workplace design to support our firm’s flexible work patterns. Currently, more than 2,000 of our people are participating in pilots across multiple divisions and locations. Implementing this program will further decrease the area-per-staff allocation, which increases our energy efficiency.

Deploying new technology solutions
Our Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) enables a highly efficient desktop computing environment in our offices and facilitates: 

  • Desktop Power Management: We enhanced our proprietary power-management solution, now deployed on approximately 35,000 Network Desktop Client PCs, saving an estimated $1.1 million in 2012 on power and associated cooling costs.
  • Desktop PC Hardware Fleet Optimization: We are replacing older, inefficient PC workstations with new low wattage thin desktop clients on our trading floors, reducing wattage as much as ten-fold per position.
  • Desktop Video Conferencing: Our custom software solution enables greater access to video conferencing for global collaboration between our geographically dispersed facilities, potentially reducing our need for global travel while using less energy than traditional room based video conferencing systems.

Reducing the Impact of our Data Centers

We work to maximize the operational efficiency of the building infrastructure and technology systems in our data centers by consolidating facilities, driving efficiency in how we power and cool them and optimizing the efficiency and utilization of technology equipment. Accomplishments include:

Maximizing the Efficiency of Our Infrastructure
In 2012, we began the first phase of a long-term modular data center strategy which will enable us to achieve measurable power consumption reductions and, start consolidating our regional data center footprints into more efficient models. Our strategy relies on the adoption of high-efficiency modular data centers: pre-fabricated “data centers in a box” which house servers and the data center infrastructure in secure shipping-container-sized modules. Such modular technology exemplifies a new operating paradigm, fundamentally shifting the way data centers will be assembled, consumed and operated.  Goldman Sachs is partnering with our  strategic modular data center solutions provider on the design and implementation of a new air-cooled module that will significantly reduce power usage; after deployment in our data centers, the technology will be made publicly available.   Adopting modular data centers will also allow us to scale our data center operations more efficiently, and advance our broader commitment to environmental stewardship and carbon reductions in our global data center operations.

One of our primary data centers in New Jersey recently achieved Energy Star Certification; a significant and rare accomplishment for data centers. Energy efficiency highlights include:

  • Cooling: Extensive use of variable frequency drives (VFDs) throughout the facility on pumps, air handling units, chillers, and cooling towers, to match actual IT load
  • Lighting: Occupancy sensors throughout data center fields, hallways, conference rooms, etc., to turn lights off automatically when unoccupied
  • Free Cooling: Use of water-side economizers to cool IT loads without chillers during times of low outside air temperatures
  • Chiller Optimization: Use of a chiller optimization program when mechanical cooling is required that minimizes electrical consumption by adjusting energy use to match load conditions with outside air temperatures

We continue to seek out efficiency opportunities across our North American vendor-owned colocation data centers, exiting older inefficient facilities and migrating our application servers to new data centers that provide lower power usage effectiveness (PUE) compared to legacy facilities and further reductions of our carbon footprint. In 2012, we reduced our physical data center footprint across vendor-owned collocated data centers by 13 percent, further reduced overall power consumption, while increasing central processing unit (CPU) core capacity through hardware upgrades.

Driving Efficiency in Our Technology
Driving efficiency in our technology footprint helps maximize the gains we achieve in data center infrastructure efficiency and space consolidation.  Some highlights of these efforts include:

  • Open Compute Project: Goldman Sachs senior technologists continue to participate with a broad consortium of industry members in the Open Compute Project (OCP) driving innovative designs to develop the most efficient computing infrastructures at the lowest cost. OCP standards promise to deliver computing hardware that is 24 percent more energy efficient and 38 percent more cost efficient, on average, than so-called commodity hardware.   Efforts over the last year have now resulted in high-efficiency server hardware that we plan to deploy in our data centers in Q4/2013.
  • Server Utilization: Improving utilization on our existing server hardware was a significant focus in 2012, with increased effort to right-size application computing resources, reducing CPU cores and memory for individual virtual servers and creating additional computing capacity for new applications instead of only procuring and installing new servers in our data centers. As with hardware upgrades, this approach allows us to increase our data center computing power without increasing our power consumption. This also helps us to avoid building additional data center space.
  • Server Power Management: Extensive engineering completed to certify hardware and software configurations on our server fleet that reduce power consumption during periods of low server utilization. Deployments of these new optimized configurations for our standardized virtual server environment have commenced in 2013.
  • Enterprise Storage: With ever-increasing data, driven in part by new regulatory requirements, continued adoption of tiered storage offerings--including solid state disks, lower speed SATA drives, and denser disks--help us maintain or reduce the power footprint often associated with data growth.