Government data centers exist all over the country, in various states and in a variety of buildings. It is no secret that data centers consume a lot of energy but government data centers must comply with data center energy efficiency requirements. According to the Federal Energy Management Program, data centers account for a significant portion of overall energy consumption in the United States, “In 2013, data centers accounted for 2.7% of the 3831 billion kWh used in the US, or 102.9 billion kWh.1,2,3 Federal data centers used about 5 billion kWh in 2013, or nearly 10% of federal electricity use.” While, for the most part, the country does not have a specific government mandate or law in terms of energy consumption in data centers, more and more states are moving towards mandating energy efficiency in data centers. As the government and independent businesses strive to improve energy efficiency, be more green, and save money wherever possible, it is inevitable that data centers will see the initiation and implementation of energy efficiency requirements.
The PUE rating, or power usage effectiveness rating, helps measure how efficiently a data center uses energy. TechTarget explains what exactly PUE is and how it is measured, “Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is a metric used to determine the energy efficiency of a data center. PUE is determined by dividing the amount of power entering a data center by the power used to run the computer infrastructure within it. PUE is therefore expressed as a ratio, with overall efficiency improving as the quotient decreases toward 1.” Many federal buildings are very old and were certainly not designed with data centers or energy efficiency in mind. For this reason, many federal data centers have a poor PUE, with some in the high 2s or even 3s, dramatically highlighting the need for improved energy efficiency in data centers across the board. The U.S. government has taken on a new mandate for energy efficiency – an average PUE of 1.4, a 30% energy usage reduction, and more. This is no small task considering that many are in the 2s or 3s, necessitating the closure of many data centers and a move towards new more energy efficient data centers, data center pods and other measures. Whether discussing a federal data center or an independent data center, it often comes down to the bottom line. Ultimately, consolidating energy usage and implementing energy saving strategies to drive down PUE will not only make data centers more compliant in advance of a government mandate but it will also save money. Over time, both compliance with energy efficiency mandates and money saved due to reduced energy usage will provide much needed sustainability in data centers.