The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has determined that data centers offer a prime opportunity for the Federal government to cut energy consumption while agency demand grows to embrace cloud services and modernize legacy IT systems.


Brian J. Anderson, director of the NETL at the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), explained that buildings housing data centers are among the most energy-intensive buildings, consuming 10 to 50 times the energy per square foot of floor space compared to a typical commercial office building.


“If we focus on decarbonizing our electricity sector, there are huge components of our economy that we miss,” Anderson said during the General Services Administration’s Data Center Sustainability Summit on April 7.


He added that IT professionals, facility managers, energy managers, and sustainability coordinators can identify numerous opportunities to save energy, ranging from virtualizing their servers, to better organizing data, to managing data center airflow.


Anderson also explained that the placement of Federal data centers can also transform communities left behind by a waning fossil-fuel-based economy.


Projects such as the Mineral Gap Data Center in Wise County, Va. – which is the first solar energy project in Virginia to be built on abandoned mine land – demonstrate how hazardous sites can be reclaimed to boost decarbonization efforts, and generate jobs and support expanded data services. The center has even sparked local economic investment and investment in renewables, he said.


“Our colleagues at the Department of Interior are in the process of deploying billions of dollars for the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program under the infrastructure bill” approved by Congress last November, Anderson said. The DoE received nearly $62 billion in the infrastructure bill, which allows NETL to leverage those reclamation projects for data centers, he added.


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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.