In December of 2006, Congress passed a law requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to put together a report regarding power consumption in information technology data centers by mid 2007. The goal of the report was to outline potential incentives and voluntary programs that would promote energy-efficient computer servers and data centers. In other words, Congress wants corporations to go Green with environmentally friendly technology.
In July 2007, the government will launch the upgraded Energy Star 4.0 standards, which is a tougher rating system that will help users measure their computer’s energy efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency says the upgrade will prevent the same amount of ozone-depleting greenhouse gases that is annually released by 2.7 million cars. In addition, Energy Star 4.0 will also help companies lower their electric bills-by enough to light 730 million square feet of U.S. commercial building space each year, according to the EPA.
While the new standards may seem annoying, the information highway’s fast-growing power consumption has already been forcing companies to adopt green energy practices. Technology experts say the power consumption of data centers doubles every five years or so, making them one of the fastest-growing leeches of energy in the U.S.
"The IT industry is where the automotive industry was 20 years ago," says Rakesh Kumar, research vice-president at consulting firm Gartner (IT). "We are so backwards when it comes to using alternative-energy and energy-efficient technologies."
Green light for Green technology
On May 10, 2007 IBM took the LED spotlight with their plans to invest $1 billion a year in products and services that will help reduce IT power consumption in data centers while doubling the computing capacity of its data centers. A hefty goal that other IT companies such as HP is also committing to.
Soaring electric bills for power-hungry data centers has companies creating energy-efficient products such as chips, desktop computers and servers. Last year, an industry consortium of IT companies called the Green Grid was formed to address the growing problem of power consumption in data centers.
One small data center in Romoland, Calif., has figured out how to run on only alternative energy. "We use no electricity from the power grid," says Phil Nail, chief technology officer of Web hosting company AISO.net. The company operates its 2,000-square-foot data center with solar energy captured via ground-mounted solar panels. But right now alternative energy is not a viable option in most cases… not yet.
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