Interview: Verdiem, Making Computers Use Less Energy

Wouldn't it be great if your PC took energy consumption into its own hands? By this I mean it would turn itself on and off, shut down the monitor, and go to sleep automatically. Sure, there are a lot of products out that manage power consumption for computers (including OSes), but I'm talking about going one step further- the computer actually learns something about you. It knows you write in spurts, knows that you leave for lunch between 11:30 and 12 every day, knows you never show up on the weekend. It learns your habits so that it can reduce its own power consumption accordingly, without inconveniencing you.

Doesn't that sound, say, farfetched. In actuality, the technology exists and is being deployed to thousands of PC worldwide. VerdiemTM, the inventor, was at hand to explain it to Treehugger in this exclusive interview. Kevin Klustner, CEO of Verdiem, explains the marvel.

So, tell us a little about Verdiem Kevin, the product, the business.

Hi Mark, thanks for inviting me to this interview. The company was founded in 2001 by an entrepreneur whose wife was a school teacher. In light of the consistently tight budgets facing the district, the founder's wife was upset by the amount of energy, and therefore money, wasted by school and district computers that were left on all night. The founder wrote a program to turn them off, and that's where it all began. After developing the initial version of the software and seeing the success it had within the school district, Verdiem's founder saw a bigger business opportunity in managing power consumption of networked PCs for even larger organizations. That's how our main product, SURVEYOR (TM), got started. The development was initially funded by a grant from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance; since then, the company has grown significantly and further refined the product. To date, over 300,000 seats have been sold to schools, universities, government agencies and corporations across North America.

What does your product do? It's smart, right?

It's smart. SURVEYOR works by intelligently placing PCs into lower power settings when not in use. SURVEYOR’s Adaptive SmartProfile (TM) analyzes the behavior of the user. This information is used to control the power settings, ensuring that networked PCs are in right power state (on, hibernate, standby, etc.) at the right time. This maximizes energy savings without interfering with end-user productivity. SURVEYOR also features reporting capabilities to quantify savings.

And how much can I save? I assume energy is the big savings but there may be others.

Verdiem helps save energy, but as we all know, energy is money, and it is getting more expensive all the time, particularly in developing countries. A typical PC consumes 600 kWh of electricity a year. We actually provide a money back guarantee that you will save at least 10 percent off your computing energy bill, but we find that SURVEYOR consistently reduces consumption by about a third. That translates into a 3-6% annual reduction in total electricity consumption. Additionally, organizations also reduce associated CO2, greenhouse gas emissions. It averages about $20 per PC, per year.

Are there auxiliary services that you offer?

Yes, we offer pre and post-sale services for our customers, including Network Energy Analysis. This is for prospective customers who are interested in learning how much their PCs consume each day, and want to know how much energy and cost savings could be achieved with SURVEYOR. Verdiem will conduct a PC energy audit on a sampling of a prospect's PCs. At the conclusion of the energy audit the prospect receives a report detailing baseline costs and estimated savings. We also offer a Maintenance and Support package after purchase that includes free upgrades to any new releases that are made available during the maintenance and support period, and an annual Network Energy Analysis to ensure networked PCs are maximizing their energy savings.

What is the payback period and return on investment (ROI)?

Our pricing starts at $25 per PC – a one time licensing cost. The payback period averages about 15-18 months or less, depending on the cost of energy. However, we have agreements in place with several US utilities which provide various rebates to organizations that buy and install the software. Companies that take advantage of these rebates will see a significantly faster payback. For example, Southern California Edison offers a $15/PC rebate on SURVEYOR through their Express Efficiency program. Obviously, if you take advantage of this offer, the payback period drops significantly.

Is there a minimum or maximum organizational size that would benefit from your product?

Any organization can benefit from our software, but it really comes down to at what point the savings has compelling value for a particular organization. Typically Verdiem works with customers that have 5,000 PCs or more.

Are there other, non software related things that 'Joe User' can do to save energy?

Well, the easiest thing users can do is turn off their PCs at night, but countless studies and personal experience indicate that the majority of users don't. That's why software can make such a big difference.

What do you have planned for the future?

The confluence of several factors – the rising cost of energy, the political climate and the recognition of business leaders that implementing green initiatives delivers bottom line results – is creating a groundswell of interest in our technology, so managing the company's growth is priority number one. We are just beginning to expand internationally. Energy costs are higher and regulations are much tighter across Europe, so we see a huge opportunity there. In addition, we are in the process of investigating ways to wring energy savings out of other IT devices and peripherals, such as printers and copiers, so we can help our customers create even greater efficiencies.

Thanks for the info.

Thank you for the opportunity.

Tags: Conservation | Electronics | Energy