Downsizing energy footprints

By Max Cacas

Now, more than ever, there’s a big push in federal offices to keep a lid on how much electricity is consumed by the all-important IT data centers that agencies depend on. John Kimball with the Department of Energy’s Office of Industrial Technology outlines why this is a concern:

In the U.S., data centers account for 1.5% of all electricity consumed in this country, and this demand is doubling every five years. Many of the data centers can be 50 to 100 megawatts in size. Of this, almost 50% of this power is being used for cooling for the servers.

Kimball told the recent Green IT Computing Summit that, out on the cutting edge, there are software solutions now available to help fed IT managers tame the energy beast.


“Over the years, we’ve developed a number of software tools and strategies,” he said, “to assist these industries to reduce the high energy intensities required in those processes.”

Kimball went on to say that the possible savings from managing the cost of cooling data centers can be significant.

From our case studies and research, we’ve found that 20-40% energy savings are possible. Agressive strategies can boost that figure up to 50%. Typically, the paybacks are short, with 1-3 year return on investment, depending on the type of equipment that’s deployed.

To spread the word about the benefits of data center energy management in both the federal and private sectors, Kimball says the Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program, or ITP, has been a pioneer in the use of “energy assessments” to find ways to save power.

“ITP has been responsible for training thousands of energy professional engineers. We have 400 certified and qualified energy experts who actually go out and do energy assessments, and reduce their energy costs and become more competitive.”

And Kimball says just a few weeks ago, the ITP released its first case study of a successful private sector energy assessment for Lucasfilm, the California-based film maker that pioneered the use of large data centers to create CGI, or computer generated imaging, for films such as the Star Wars saga.

On the Web:
Department of Energy – ITP: Save Energy Now

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