This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 04, 2007

President Bush Signs Data Center Energy Efficiency Bill

A photo of a long row of large rectangular boxes of computer equipment receding into the distance.

The growing use of large data centers, the workhorses of the Internet, is causing the U.S. government, computer companies, and others to focus on energy efficiency.
Credit: Š Alim

President Bush signed a bill on December 20th that requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the rapid growth and energy consumption of computer data centers. The study will examine the computer industry's migration to more energy-efficient servers and analyze the potential impacts on costs, energy use, and performance of using more energy-efficient technologies. The study will examine current government incentives for energy efficient data centers and servers and will recommend potential incentives and voluntary programs that could promote their adoption. The study will also analyze the potential cost savings and benefits from the use of stationary fuel cells for backup power. See the White House press release and the text of the legislation.

A number of industry activities have underscored the importance of data center energy efficiency. In November, California's Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) began offering rebates for data centers that employ software to make the best use of their server resources, a technique that allows data centers to accomplish the same tasks with less servers. In late November, Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced a new energy management system for data centers that is designed to deliver 20 to 45 percent savings in cooling costs. And in December, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) issued new liquid cooling guidelines for data centers. See the press releases from PG&E, HP, and ASHRAE.

DOE has also been heavily involved in data center energy efficiency in recent weeks, with Andy Karsner, DOE's Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), heading up a meeting in early December with the Chief Technology Officers of major computer companies in California's Silicon Valley. Representatives from AMD, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, and HP attended the meeting, which led to coverage on and in the Wall Street Journal. DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has long been involved in data center energy efficiency, and recently helped launch two demonstration projects to examine the benefits of running data centers on direct-current (DC) power. LBNL has also launched a Web site to help data center designers and operators achieve greater energy efficiency. See the archive of news items on the EERE Web site, and see the LBNL Web sites on its data center studies, its DC power demonstration, and on data center energy management.