U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Green Grid, to increase energy efficiency in the ever-growing information technology sector. The Green Grid is a consortium of information technology companies seeking to lower the overall consumption of power in data centers around the globe. Assistant Secretary Karsner and John Tuccillo, director of The Green Grid, signed the MOU at the New York Stock Exchange, kicking off a day of in-depth discussions with operators of financial services data centers. “The agreement signed today with The Green Grid builds on the department’s continued effort to improve energy efficiency in the private sector,” says Karsner. “Data centers represent an important part of the information economy, and joining forces with The Green Grid puts us on a path to identify and build the necessary tools for thousands of data centers to more easily capture energy savings.”

The DOE-Green Grid MOU intends to focus on assisting data center operators and facilities to initiate and implement an energy management program and adopt clean energy and efficiency technologies. Specifically, the MOU identifies future activities the DOE and The Green Grid may collaborate on to develop a common set of metrics and tools; develop a Web site so data centers can easily access tools and resources to initiate and implement an energy management program, encourage data centers to obtain energy savings assessments, train company personnel in conducting energy savings assessments and in using tools to identify energy efficiency enhancements, and define areas of pre-competitive research and development for data center operations.

The DOE and The Green Grid have also set a common goal of improving overall energy efficiency in data centers by 10% by 2011, factoring in current projected data center use. Approximately 10 billion kilowatt-hours would be saved, equivalent to electricity consumed by 1 million U.S. households annually. These energy savings would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 6.5 million tons per year.

Because data centers are among the fastest growing industries in the United States, the DOE has identified them as key to increasing energy efficiency, reducing load on the electricity grid, and enhancing data center reliability. Last year, data centers were estimated to have used 61 billion kilowatt-hours, or 1.5% of electricity in the United States, and it is projected to grow 12% per year through 2011.