The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hoping to improve the energy efficiency of U.S. data centers by updating its Energy Star certification for data storage products.

In addition to updating its certification, EPA also unveiled a new website dedicated to sharing data center energy efficiency resources. Additionally, the EPA confirmed that it and be revising its 1-100 Energy Star score for data centers.

“The data center computing sector is growing rapidly. Reducing the sector’s annual 70 billion-plus kWh use is essential to fighting the climate crisis,” Joseph Goffman, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said. “The Energy Star updates EPA is announcing today will lead the industry towards greater innovation and deep carbon savings.”

In a press release, the EPA stressed the importance of improving data center energy efficiency, saying that data centers are one of the most energy-intensive building types. Data centers consume 10 to 50 times more energy per square foot than a typical office building. In 2014, data centers in the U.S. consumed roughly 1.8 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption.

The EPA also explained that ten years ago data center energy use was predicted to grow exponentially as digital computing expanded. However, gains in energy efficiency in both the network hardware and storage level have mostly offset this growth.

The EPA noted that between 2010 and 2018, data center computing grew by 500 percent, while data center energy use only grew by six percent. EPA claimed that its Energy Star program has played a significant role in this progress but said much more is required as digital computing data needs continue to grow rapidly. Currently, more than 190 data centers, which represent nearly 30 million square feet of floor space, have earned EPA’s Energy Star certification.

To further improve data center energy efficiency, the EPA released an updated ENERGY STAR specification for data center storage products, adding active-mode requirements and requiring more efficient power supplies. The program also added new how-to content and case studies to its website.

Regarding its 1-100 rating program, EPA said the score was introduced in 2010 and is currently based on 2008 survey data. EPA said that this fall it will partner with the data center industry association the Green Grid to survey data centers’ energy and water use. With the new data, EPA intends to update its 1-100 Energy Star score.


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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.