Guide for Reducing Data Center Physical Infrastructure Energy Consumption in Federal Data Centers

Posted by on June 20, 2012

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The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007), along with the more recent Executive Order 13514, ask Federal government agencies to improve their environmental, energy and economic performance.  The typical data center consumes 50x the amount of energy of the average office space and is an obvious target for action  In fact, Federal Chief Information Officer Kundra cites an EPA report stating that Federal servers and data centers consumed 6 billion kWh of electricity in 2006.  If the current trend in energy consumption is allowed to continue, that consumption could exceed 12 billion kWh by 2012.  One of Kundra’s goals is to “promote the use of Green IT by reducing the overall energy and real estate foot print of government data centers.”  The federal government is looking for “game-changing approaches” to deal with the problematic growth in data centers rather than “brute force consolidation.”

So what do these high level mandates mean for Federal facility managers, IT managers and energy managers? Federal data center stakeholders will have to assess the energy situation within their own particular data centers and then formulate short-term and long-term plans for changes to their existing practices and existing infrastructure.  This paper will focus on energy efficiency gains that can be realized through optimization of physical infrastructure (i.e., power and cooling equipment).  Physical infrastructure accounts for more than half of the total energy consumption of a typical data center.  Approaches for improving IT equipment efficiency (i.e., servers, storage, telecommunications devices) are NOT within the scope of this paper.

“Guide for Reducing Data Center Physical Infrastructure Energy Consumption in Federal Data Centers” Full White Paper (Click Here To Download)

Executive Summary:

In an effort to create a clean energy economy, recent US presidents and congress have issued a series of legislation and executive orders requiring federal agencies to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in government facilities.  Vivek  Kundra, Federal Chief Information Officer, is supporting that effort by establishing a Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative to help reduce energy consumption in over 1,100 Federal data centers.  US Federal data center managers are on a timeline to respond with their final consolidation plan.  This paper analyzes the implication of these mandates and offers recommendations for how to improve energy efficiency in Federal data centers.  This paper is written for a US-only audience.


  • The challenge of energy efficiency
  • How an efficiency assessment can help
  • Understanding the language of data center efficiency
  • Factors impacting data center efficiency measurement
  • Measuring & modeling
  • Integration of a mathematical model
  • Data center efficiency best practices


Energy efficiency initiatives in Federal data centers can begin with assessments that can easily reveal the “low hanging fruit” when it becomes to energy conversation.  Techniques, such as blanking panels and hot aisle/cold aisle orientation for racks, can begin the process of improved energy efficiency.

However, the essence of improvement is accurate measurement of energy being consumed so that a baseline for improvement can be established.  Data center energy efficiency models can be utilized, at a reasonable cost, to measure consumption to a surprisingly accurate degree.

Once consumption is measured, management techniques and new technologies can then be deployed which significantly reduce energy costs throughout the electrical room, mechanical room and IT room of the data center.

White Paper Written By:

Ellen Kotzbauer, BEP, is a 19-year veteran of Schneider Electric and has held numerous engineering, manufacturing and marketing positions in the company. She is currently the Government segment manager and is responsible for defining and executing marketing strategy and campaigns for Schneider Electric government customers in the U.S. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University and is a certified Business Energy Professional.

Dennis Bouley, is a Senior Research Analyst at Schneider Electric’s Data Center Science Center.  He holds bachelor’s degrees in journalism and French from the University of Rhode Island and holds the Certificat Annuel from the Sorbonne in Paris, France.  He has published multiple articles in global journals focused on data center IT and physical infrastructure environments and has authored several white papers for The Green Grid.

Additional References:

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007)

Executive Order 13514

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