Data Centers Help Measure How To Be Green

The inconvenient truth about data centers is that they consume lots of power. In addition to running a building-full of systems and storage devices 24/7, power is also consumed for networking equipment, cooling, battery backups, and even to support more modest human needs, such as lights and coffee makers. 

Both economically and socially, the United States is growing more conscientious of the need for power conservation. That's where programs like Energy Star take an active role. You've probably seen Energy Star stickers on air conditioners and refrigerators. "Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices." The Energy Star program is not relegated to just helping manufacturers and consumers be more energy conscious of consumer products; the energy Star program also focuses on large-scale consumers of power, such as data centers.

As part of Energy Star's National Data Center Energy Efficiency Information Program, Energy Star is now attempting to develop an Energy Star rating for data centers, using a 100 point scale (each point represents a percentage of performance efficiency). In order to accomplish this, however, Energy Star needs to collect power consumption and operating characteristics data from existing data centers. The call went out to data center operators asking them to volunteer to join the data-collection program and supply the relevant information to Energy Star over a one-year period.

Energy Star's original deadline for data center operators to sign up was June 1, with the hope of having at least 100 facilities on board. However, as Data Center Knowledge reported, only 54 facilities had signed up by mid-May. Energy Star extended the deadline to July 1, hoping to interest more facilities. The extra time paid off, and "at least 215 data centers have volunteered to provide data on their energy usage," as was announced last week by "Andrew Fanara of the EPA's Energy Star program... at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's Data Center Energy Summit in Santa Clara, Calif. The EPA has provided participants with assurances that any information shared will be masked and untraceable."

The data will be collected on a quarterly basis for one year, through June 2009. The plan is for Energy Star to analyze the data and then launch the new rating system in January 2010. (It is unclear if the one-month extension to garner additional participants will impact the January 2010 delivery date.) Data centers with a rating of at least 75 will be offered the Energy Star label.

The Data Center
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