Amping Up Energy Efficiency

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Survey evidence indicates greater education and promotion of energy reduction guidelines may be needed to help reduce each agency’s carbon footprint.

Despite aggressive IT energy efficiency goals from the White House, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Department of Energy (DoE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), much work remains to ensure federal IT organizations fully leverage available tools to help measure, monitor and streamline IT energy costs.

Since Oct. 2009 when the president signed Executive Order 13514 (Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance), and the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, announced by the OMB in Feb. 2010, there have been multiple memos, updates and guidance issued from senior officials at the White House, OMB, EPA and DoE, instructing agencies to reduce energy consumption and eliminate and consolidate data centers in the next five years.

Survey evidence indicates greater education and promotion of energy reduction guidelines may be needed to reduce each agency’s carbon footprint. Last fall, CDW-G surveyed 756 IT professionals in public and private sector organizations, to better understand how energy efficiency is being adopted. One finding – government organizations may need more help. For example, to help achieve energy efficiency goals, government IT organizations can use free U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy programs to assess data center improvements and validate investments. In the CDW-G survey, when asked whether they use the DoE’s Data Center Energy Profiler (DC Pro), 52% of respondents said no and only 23% said yes. The rest were unsure about the program. More respondents, 75%, noted at least some familiarity with the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Rating for Data Centers program, but a full 25% of respondents said they had either “only heard of it,” or “had not heard of the program.”

What Agencies Can Do

There are numerous ways public sector IT organizations can achieve greater data center energy efficiency. Among the tips industry observers and officials at CDW-G recommend, are the following:

Leverage Available Tracking Tools – Utilize free EPA and Department of Energy programs to assess data center improvements and validate investments. Install the tools to track efficiency metrics, such as power usage effectiveness (PUE), which is the ratio of total power into the data center compared to the power used by IT.

Measure to Manage – reducing energy consumption is impossible without keeping track of detailed information regarding data center power consumption. In addition to measuring for PUE, another metric called data center infrastructure efficiency (DCIE) is calculated by dividing IT equipment power by total facility power.

Think Big – While training employees to shut down computers will aid in energy reduction, to further reduce costs organizations must make more significant changes, such as investing in LCD monitors and low-power servers and computers. Others are upgrading to more power-efficient switches.

Rethink when Renovating – a new server infrastructure calls for an overhaul of the cooling and power subsystems. Leverage the opportunity to reduce square footage and install ‘greener’ lighting and peripherals.

Give IT Incentives – Demonstrate the organization’s commitment to energy efficient IT by recognizing and rewarding energy reduction efforts. Reduced IT energy spending is worthy of reward and/or recognition.

Data Center Optimization

About the Author

Barbara DePompa is a freelance writer for 1105 Government Information Group’s Content Solutions unit. This Snapshot report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Government Information Group Content Solutions, please email us at GIGCustomMedia@1105govinfo.com