Computer Data Centers: A ‘New Policy Frontier’ For Energy Efficiency, Says Report from Alliance to Save Energy | Alliance to Save Energy

Computer Data Centers: A ‘New Policy Frontier’ For Energy Efficiency, Says Report from Alliance to Save Energy

Release Date: Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Washington, D.C., February 12, 2007 – A new report from the Alliance to Save Energy says computer data centers offer an important area for increasing the nation’s energy efficiency. The report also notes policies and measures that could help mitigate the energy used by this emerging sector.

Energy Efficiency in Data Centers: A New Policy Frontier says the thousands of high-density data centers nationwide that house some 10 million computer servers typically consume 15 times more energy per square foot – and in some instances up to 100 times more – than a typical office building. The report goes on to say that the economic, environmental, and other social benefits that would flow from reducing data centers’ energy use justify governmental policies promoting energy-efficient practices and technology.

“Energy-intensive data centers, which run 24 hours, seven days a week, consume significant amounts of electricity – an estimated 20 to 30 billion kilowatt hours annually, roughly equal to the electricity consumption of the entire state of Utah,” said report author and Alliance Vice President of Research and Analysis Joe Loper. “That electricity costs $2 to $3 billion a year and requires about 30 power plants.”

The new Alliance report offers a number of suggestions for how governments can raise awareness about data center energy use and encourage energy efficiency, including sub-metering to help isolate energy-efficiency opportunities; supporting efforts to develop server and power supply energy performance metrics; evaluating minimum energy performance standards for server power supplies; ensuring that data center best practices are included in commercial building codes; and establishing tax and/or utility incentives to help defray the cost of more efficient equipment.

“The good news,” Loper added, “is that there are myriad opportunities for reducing data center energy use, and that many energy-efficiency measures have quick payback periods. The challenge is to make data center owners and operators aware of those opportunities and comfortable with investing the required time and money in them. We hope this report will further those important goals."

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) provided support for the report. “Energy dependency is a significant growth constraint for the technology industry, particularly for the Internet and networked computing,” said Larry Vertal, senior strategist at AMD. “That is why so many technology companies are driving new innovations in the area of energy-efficient computing. With the federal government’s help, we can reduce energy consumption in the data center to allow for continued growth of the Internet and access to the applications consumers, businesses, and governments depend on.”