By Robert Sauchelli and Deborah E. Miller
Energy Efficiency Article Use Policy
Energy Star has steadily expanded the range of building types that are eligible for a 1 to 100 score. In the past year, two new types have been added: data centers and senior care facilities. That brings to 15 the number of building types that can use Portfolio Manager: banking and financial institutions, courthouses, commercial and corporate real estate, data centers, hospitals, hotels, houses of worship, K-12 schools, medical office buildings, municipal wastewater treatment plants, residence halls and dormitories, retail stores, senior care, supermarkets and both refrigerated and non-refrigerated warehouses. All can receive a 1 to 100 energy performance score with the exception of wastewater treatment plants.
The expansion of Energy Star to data centers was the outcome of more than two years of work with the data center industry to define an energy use metric and collect data.
It is estimated that there are more than 17,000 buildings that have some type of data center in them. With the growing use of the Internet, reducing data center energy consumption is critical for our country's energy security because of the energy-intensive nature of these operations. In 2006, data center and server energy use was estimated at approximately 61 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), or 1.5 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, costing approximately $4.5 billion. According to an EPA report to Congress published in 2007, the energy use of data centers, servers, and infrastructure more than doubled from 2000 to 2006, and it is expected to continue to grow exponentially.
In late 2010, EPA released an energy performance scale for data centers to enable operators to measure and compare their energy performance to similar facilities across the nation. During EPA's analysis of data center energy use, which drew upon information from both stand-alone data centers and data centers located within commercial buildings, an important finding was that the variability in energy use was more dependent on energy management practices than on operating characteristics.
EPA's energy performance scale for data centers is based on a common industry metric, power usage effectiveness (PUE), which is the ratio of total energy consumed by the data center to the energy consumption of just the IT equipment (e.g., servers, switches and storage). Building owners with data centers in their buildings (usually in commercial office space) must work with tenants to ensure that they have the proper metering in place to capture the IT energy consumption output of the uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
In March 2011, EPA released an energy performance scale for senior care facilities. Now, nursing homes, assisted living communities, and certain types of continuing care retirement communities are eligible to earn the Energy Star. A senior care community is defined as all buildings in a multi-building campus setting or a stand-alone facility that are designed to house and provide care and assistance for elderly residents including assisted living, skilled nursing, and select continuing care retirement communities. Recently, EPA recognized 30 Sunrise Senior Living communities as the first senior care facilities to earn Energy Star certification.
Whether you own or manage one building or a portfolio of buildings, the Energy Star website provides valuable information and training to develop an energy management strategy. Here are some resources in which building owners might be interested.
Energy Star Offers New Ratings, Easier Benchmarking for Buildings
Data Centers, Senior Care Now Eligible For 1 to 100 Energy Star Scores
New Energy Star for Hospitals, Federal Involvement Among New Plans