gren_grass_power_outlet_300x150Energy Star just released its new guidelines for certifying data center IT equipment. Although no products have yet to be noted specifically by the government agency, this move shows that the organization is being more proactive in regard to data centers. For companies looking to make their facilities more environmentally friendly and obtain LEED certification, this is welcome news that should shape future procurement strategies.

In particular, Energy Star will now be inspecting and certifying data storage devices. As this type of IT equipment becomes prevalent in conjunction with the rise of big data, the role of storage will grow within data center environments. By applying its energy usage standards and seal of approval to storage arrays, Energy Star is acknowledging this hardware’s new role in the enterprise, making these certifications critical for data centers striving to become more environmentally friendly.

Energy Star is a joint initiative between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. The organization is one of the biggest names in the energy efficiency field, and their green stamp of approval carries a lot of weight for consumers and enterprise procurement strategists.

Calculating the Real Cost of Green Certifications
Companies are under pressure to make sure their data centers are as eco-friendly as possible, as reports released over the last few years paint these facilities as energy hogs. Uptime is the top concern for any IT department, but environmental standards and electricity usage are a close second.

“Online storage systems are designed to be on all the time and use approximately 80% of their peak energy capacity while simply idling their spinning drives,” the government agency stated. “Additionally, most storage products exhibit a characteristic power/performance curve with increasing efficiency up to some size, then a drop off after passing their optimal peak. The ENERGY STAR specification recognizes products that perform well around this peak point, so labeled products perform near their optimal peak. The specification also requires the use of energy efficient power supplies and power consumption reporting. It promotes the use of capacity optimization methods and adaptive active cooling where appropriate for end users.”

Not only will using Energy Star-certified IT equipment allow data centers to significantly reduce annual electricity bills, having this IT hardware in place will make it easier for a facility to achieve LEED certification. Created by the U.S. Green Building Council, the various tiers of LEED certification serve to signify just how eco-friendly a data center or other building is. While the state of the IT equipment inside a data center is only one of the many factors the GBC takes into account, having energy-efficient hardware will go a long way toward helping the facility achieve this goal.

“LEED certification, which includes a rigorous third-party commissioning process, offers compelling proof to you, your clients, your peers and the public at large that you’ve achieved your environmental goals and your building is performing as designed,” the National Resources Defense Council noted. “Getting certified allows you to take advantage of a growing number of state and local government incentives, and can help boost press interest in your project.”