EPA Now Awarding Energy Stars for Data Centers

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-06-07

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with seeing that enterprise IT devices such as servers and storage arrays become more environmentally friendly by using less electrical power, announced June 7 that it is extending its Energy Star program to include entire data centers.

Stand-alone data centers and buildings that house large data centers now can earn the familiar aqua-and-white Energy Star label if they pass the agency's qualification requirements. To earn the label, data centers must be in the top 25 percent of their peers in energy efficiency, according to EPA's energy performance scale.

By improving their power-usage efficiency, data centers -- which are enormous power hogs -- can save substantial amounts of energy and money while reducing a center's carbon footprint.

Data centers account for about 1.5 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption at a cost of $4.5 billion annually, an amount that is expected to almost double over the next five years, the EPA said.

The EPA uses a commonly accepted measure for energy efficiency called the Power Usage Effectiveness metric to determine whether a data center qualifies for the Energy Star label. Before being awarded the Energy Star, a licensed professional must independently verify the energy performance of these buildings and sign and seal the application document that is sent to the EPA for review and approval, the EPA said.

The Green Grid recently came out with a similar Power Efficiency Estimator that enables data center operators to compare different possible situations involving power topologies and technologies inside their facilities.

For example, data center managers can input factors such as workload, availability and space constraints into the PEE and obtain a report designed to improve planning and subsequent decision making.

Significant energy and cost savings are possible through modest gains in efficiency, the EPA said. Energy consumed by data centers is growing every year due to the preponderance of new devices to handle the data storage explosion and an increasing number of more powerful servers and storage arrays.

The EPA has estimated that improving the energy efficiency of America's data centers by only 10 percent would save more than 6 billion kilowatt-hours each year, enough to power more than 350,000 homes and save more than $450 million annually.

Go here for more information about the Energy Star label for data centers.

Rocket Fuel