Report: Green IT Equals Greenbacks

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-06-27 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

IT systems makers can indeed become more environmentally friendly and make money at the same time.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.-The U.S. Department of Energy, through the Environmental Protection Agency's EnergyStar program, in 2007 asked Silicon Valley systems makers to take a hard look at how they do business and explore whether they could run their operations and produce IT hardware that could be less power-hungry and more environmentally friendly.

Then in August of the same year, the EPA reported to Congress that it is taking stock of power usage in the IT sector, asked for tax breaks for companies that become "greener" and set out some general industry guidelines on how much power could be saved over the next several years.

So a number of key decision makers sat down, asked questions, did some research and came back with an aggregate answer on June 26: Yes, we can, and we can do it within our budgets.

At a daylong conference called the Data Center Energy Summit, organized by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and staged at Sun Microsystems' campus here, SVLG member Teresa Tung of consulting and research company Accenture presented a compilation of a year's worth of data in its Data Center Energy Forecast Report, the executive summary of which can be downloaded here.

Pointing at a chart on Page 7 of the report showing the fast increase in data center power usage recorded over the last few years by the EPA and highlighting several projected future downturn scenarios in that usage (depending upon varying degrees of adoption of best environmental  practices by IT systems makers), Tung said the research indicated good things lie ahead.

"We're tracking well with what needs to happen with the EPA report," Tung said in her summary remarks. "The technology is available; it's just about increasing adoption. We're hoping that this project is going to help do that."

Key findings from the research-some of which were already quite apparent to those of us who have been following this story for awhile-include:

- Although data centers continue to be large energy consumers (about 1.5 percent of all power in the United States), the results show that best-practice levels as laid out by the EPA in its general requirement report are indeed achievable in all types of data centers: legacy, new, R&D and production. Good news, and not a surprise.

- Green IT initiatives offer large savings in both power consumption and in bottom-line costs. We knew that.

- There is a gap, however; companies have yet to fully harness IT capabilities, such as consolidation, virtualization, data deduplication and rationalization. That, too, we knew.

- Today's available site technology can achieve state-of-the-art efficiencies defined by the EPA. Not a big surprise.

- Legacy upgrades can nearly match new commissions in terms of efficiency. This was a mild surprise.

"Implementing today's technologies can significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions-by up to 8 million cars annually by 2011," the summary said. "Measured results already track the best-case scenarios from the EPA report. Technology is on track for meeting the EPA scenarios.

"Moreover, by increasing adoption of the demonstrated technologies and by improving IT optimization, data centers can exceed the EPA scenarios."

The Data Center Energy Summit presented 11 technology initiatives with 17 case studies. Results were computed in terms of energy savings and its impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and costs.

This 2008 effort is the first of an ongoing series to show quantifiable results from adopting new technology, the SVLG said.

Ray Pfeifer, moderator of the event and chairman of the SVLG's data center initiatives, told me that he thought the event-which attracted about 350 company executives, engineers, IT managers, analysts and venture capital folks-fulfilled its mission by bringing a useful report and a set of real-world case studies to prove some points.

"I think we're all pleased at how it turned out," Pfeifer told me. "We were pretty close to the vest about what we were doing, why we were doing it, and what the results were. The takeaway from this, I suppose, is that we can build momentum and get more companies that used to be just observers of the [green IT] process-I call them 'nibblers'-to become 'doers.'"

Even 18 months ago when he started working on this project, Pfeifer said, "When I knocked on companies' doors, I got a lot more 'noes' than 'yeses.' But I was persistent. I just kept going back and back, and finally Yahoo agreed, then Sun agreed. Then we got some traction.

"Post this event, I think we can go back to those companies who kind of sloughed us off before and get them involved now," Pfeifer said.

Ron Croce, an executive with DC power supply company Validus, told me that he got a lot out of the event because it was about "real-life situations, so we weren't talking about theoretical anymore."

The full report will be made available on the Accenture Web site on July 11.

 
 
 
 
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
 
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters























 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rocket Fuel