The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has determined that data centers offer the federal government an excellent opportunity to reduce energy consumption as agency demand increases to adopt cloud services and modernize legacy IT systems.
Brian J. Anderson, director of 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 more energy per square foot of floor space compared to a typical commercial office building.
“If we’re focused on decarbonizing our electricity sector, there are huge components of our economy that we’re missing out on,” Anderson said at the General Services Administration’s Data Center Sustainability Summit on Friday. April 7.
He added that IT professionals, facility managers, energy managers and sustainability coordinators can identify many opportunities to save energy, ranging from virtualizing their servers to better organization of data, through the management of the airflow of the data center.
Anderson also explained that the placement of federal data centers can also transform communities left behind by a declining 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 mining land – demonstrate how hazardous sites can be reclaimed to boost efforts decarbonization, and generate jobs and support expanded data services. The center has even sparked local economic investment and renewable energy investment, he said.
“Our colleagues at the Department of the Interior are rolling out billions of dollars for the abandoned mining land reclamation program under the infrastructure bill” approved by Congress last November, Anderson said. The DoE received nearly $62 billion in the infrastructure bill, allowing NETL to leverage these recovery projects for data centers, he added.