Power Electronics

Government and Industry Team Up To Save Energy in Computer Rooms

Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the The Green Grid signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote energy efficiency in small computer rooms. According to the EPA, this event recognizes the innovative efforts of the EPA and the information technology (IT) industry to promote the “greening” of computer facilities. EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson and John Tuccillo, a director of The Green Grid, formalized the MOU in a signing ceremony held on Monday in Washington, D.C.

The collaboration begins with evaluating an existing EPA computer room for ways to optimize energy efficiency, then finding ways to standardize processes and performance measures. Ultimately, the goal of this partnership is to share best practices for replication with other governmental agencies and industry stakeholders. Future partnerships between EPA, federal partners, and associations will help design and build a green federal IT infrastructure.

“Throughout the U.S., computer centers are becoming the fastest growing users of energy. As this sector experiences tremendous growth, EPA and The Green Grid see tremendous opportunity,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “By investing in energy efficiency in our own computer centers, we are proving that doing what’s good for the environment is also good for the bottom line.” While these computer rooms may be small, they are numerous at EPA and other large organizations, and this effort promises to yield large energy savings.

The EPA notes that computer rooms across the United States accounted for 1.5% of the total U.S. electricity demand in 2006. That percentage is equivalent to the annual electric consumption of the state of Florida.

The EPA has already begun reducing energy consumption in its National Computer Center (NCC) in Research Triangle Park, N.C. In fiscal year (FY) 2007, the EPA initiated numerous energy saving projects at the NCC. These projects included the use of high-efficiency lighting, solar panels, and heating and cooling systems designed to prevent energy waste.

As a result of this work, the NCC achieved a 20.2% reduction in total energy use (e.g. gas, electric, etc.) for FY 2007 compared to FY 2006. This reduction surpasses the FY07 Conserve goal of 5% for the NCC and equates to a considerable energy cost savings. (Conserve refers to the EPA’s energy tracking and forecasting strategy.)

In addition to recommissioning the entire facility, the EPA focused significant effort in improving the energy performance of the computer wing. An extensive third-party review of the data center’s operating conditions resulted in the EPA shutting off six of the facility’s 13 computer room air conditioning units, while still meeting the sensitive cooling needs of the computer equipment. For more information on energy efficiency at the NCC, see www.epa.gov/greeningepa/facilities/rtp_ncc.htm

The Green Grid is a global consortium of companies dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in data centers and business computing ecosystems. Additional information is available at www.thegreengrid.org.

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