Energy Department Criticized for…Wasting Energy
Monday, June 04, 2012
(graphic: Mark Group)
The Department of Energy (DOE) wastes too much energy, and could see great improvements at very little cost, according to an Inspector General report released May 25. DOE IG Gregory Friedman audited energy usage at the agency’s approximately 530 data centers and server rooms, which vary greatly in size and design. In fact, one of the key criticisms of the report is that DOE is not entirely sure how many data centers and server rooms it funds, and hence cannot develop plans to identify and consolidate operations that are redundant or that would operate more efficiently if brought under one roof.
The IG deemed nine locations as significant space and energy wasters, finding that some data centers and server rooms were not used to full capacity, and more than 74,000 square feet within 77 data centers was either empty or “otherwise inappropriately used.” The report recommends several “best practices” that DOE could adopt at low cost, including configuring server racks using hot/cold rows, hot and cold row containment, perforated tiles, blanking panels and floor skirting. The IG placed some of the blame on DOE not creating incentives for achieving efficiency, noting that DOE has “not always established specific goals or performance metrics, or otherwise incentivized its organizations” to attain energy efficiency goals.
At the same time, the IG recognized that DOE has taken several measures to increase energy efficiency at its data centers, including powering data centers with electricity produced from experimental solar panels at Sandia National Laboratories. Nevertheless, the IG wrote, “additional effort is necessary to ensure that all data centers operated by or on behalf of the department are managed in an energy-efficient manner.”
The IG specifically recommended that DOE make the following four changes: review and update data center configurations; establish and implement effective performance measures for enhancing data center energy efficiency; review and modify IT funding and resource practices; and ensure coordination between organizations and sites. DOE has indicated its agreement.
To Learn More:
IG Slams Energy Department for Wasting Energy (by Camille Tuutti, Federal Computer Week)
Efforts by the Department of Energy to Ensure Energy-Efficient Management of Its Data Centers (Department of Energy Inspector General) (pdf)
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