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Celebration of Service

When awareness goes up, costs go down

IBM employee Kok Chin Tay goes back to school to promote energy efficiency

We do it all the time: leave the lights on, don’t turn off the printer, or keep an unused computer running (which is ok if you’re on the World Community Grid). But multiply those conditions by thousands or millions of occurrences everyday, for years, and the outlook for energy efficiency and cost savings is bleak.

It is that situation that Kok Chin Tay, an IBM solutions alliance leader in Singapore, and others are trying to reverse—with support from an IBM Centennial Grant. Their plan is to pilot an energy awareness and monitoring solution in some of Singapore’s schools.

“We are faced with increasing problems due to climate change, and the need to be more energy efficient is even more critical,” says Kok Chin.

The urgency is high for Singapore, a small, urbanized and densely populated island city-state with no natural resources, which has become an advocate for livable cities and a test bed for IBM’s Smarter Cities technology and solutions.

Learning by doing, Smarter Planet in action

In early 2011, Kok Chin met Lee Chuan Seng, president of the non-profit Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC). With other members of the council, they decided to pursue a grant that would promote energy efficiency by focusing on educating the next generation of leaders.

“Teaching the youth today that business and social objectives are not mutually exclusive will help develop the leaders of tomorrow,” says Kok Chin. “They will then be prepared to build a more equitable and sustainable society, with a conscience of environmental sustainability.”

Officially called The Singapore Green Building Council’s Project Green Insights, the team will raise awareness about energy efficiency in 20 schools in Singapore and then monitor energy usage to measure progress.

As students and faculty become more knowledgeable about their impact, the idea of “energy usage” will be more tangible and meaningful through reports that reveal electricity reductions, and possible cost savings. It’s “learning by doing.”

“This project is IBM's Smarter Planet in action,” Kok Chin says. “It has smart meters to monitor energy usage, wireless mesh network to convey results, and energy analytics for insight.” IBM volunteers with diverse skills will be invited to participate in the areas of project and financial management, technical implementation, and marketing communications.

IBM awarded the project a Centennial Grant recognizing its goal to enhance sustainability and quality of life, and to contribute a model of Smarter Cities for other volunteer engagements elsewhere.

“We hope this project will be a catalyst for other schools to begin their journey for more energy efficient practices,” say Kok Chin. “Through this project, I am helping others contribute back to the community. I’m very excited to be involved and part of the team.”

IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.