A panel debating energy management at an event hosted by APC parent company Schneider Electric said technology in place now could save businesses as much as 30 percent on their power costs, but that many companies aren't adopting them. Educating the companies on what they can do to save money, and giving them the tools to do so, would go a long way in driving the adoption of energy-efficient products and methods, the panel said. And businesses need to start thinking about green IT, because the Obama administration is ready to put money and regulations behind the issue.
NEWPORT, R.I.-As an analyst with Gartner, Dave Cappuccio has been in a lot of data centers.
What Cappuccio sees is distressing. In many of those data centers,
he sees inefficiencies in 40 to 50 percent of the operations, and that
by doing things a little differently, those companies could save money.
He also finds that in many cases, IT administrators choose not to do
"If [a data center is] designed properly, you can do twice the work
in half the space," Cappuccio said, speaking June 5 on a panel on
energy management during a day-long event here hosted by Schneider Electric
, the parent company of American Power Conversion. "There's an amazing level of inefficiency."
Panel members all agreed that buildings of all types-from office
buildings and data centers to factories and homes-all are riddled with
energy management problems that cost money and dump a lot of carbon
into the atmosphere, and that there are steps that can be taken now to
remedy some of those issues.
However, they diverged somewhat on what the key challenges were.
Ronald Bowman, executive vice president at Tishman Technologies,
said financing is a key issue. For businesses to institute the
solutions they need to drive down power consumption and increase
efficiencies, they need to find ways to finance them, Bowman said.
However, Andrew Lawrence, an analyst with The 451 Group, disagreed
with moderator Aaron Davis, Schneider chief marketing officer, that
American businesses are "awareness-rich but action-poor" when it comes
to energy management. Education, particularly at the C-level executive
level, is crucial, Lawrence said.
Neil Rasmussen, founder of APC and chief innovation officer
Schneider's IT business unit, agreed, saying that until businesses see
energy efficiency as an issue, they won't do anything to change.
"[To many executives], -inefficient' doesn't mean -broken,' and
that's what we need to fix," Rasmussen said. "Once -inefficient' means
-broken,' then it will get fixed."
However, it may be that IT administrators are too aware of the issue, said Gartner's Cappuccio.
"They see green as a problem," he said. "They roll their eyes or
they see green, as in money. ... They see this as a problem, not an
"There are things going on out there that are so silly and so
stupid, they're observable to [even] slightly trained people," said
Chris Curtis, president and CEO of Schneider's building business and
North American operating division.
Paul Hamilton, senior vice president of Schneider's newly founded
Energy University, said a key will be getting people to think about
energy management as a financial issue, not an ecological one.
Businesses can save 30 percent on their power bills simply by doing the
things they do better.
What will drive these savings are technologies that enable
businesses to meter, monitor and measure their energy usage, Hamilton
Automation technologies also will be key drivers of energy
efficiencies, particularly as more intelligence is built into them,
Data centers are examples of facilities that can benefit from what's
available already, particularly in the areas of virtualization and
technologies that enable measurement, Cappuccio said.
However, data center administrators and their counterparts in other
buildings and factories need to figure out how they're going to
increase efficiencies, because the federal government-particularly now,
under the Obama administration-has made green energy a key policy
issue, the panelists said.
That will mean federal money flowing into the pipeline, but it also
will mean more pressure on companies to comply with regulations. For
example, the federal Environmental Protection Agency in May set specifications for servers
to meet the organization's Energy Star rating.
"We certainly have an administration that's committed [to green
IT]," Schneider's Curtis said. "Can they do it? We'll have to wait and
see, but we do have a commitment."