Data centre owners in the dark on energy efficiency

Commercial requirements still take the lead over green credentials, but data centre managers need to think more long term, warns research.

Nearly half of companies have no energy efficiency objectives in place for their data centres, according to new research from industry consortium The Green Grid.

While 88 percent of respondents said their data centres are an important part of their corporate social responsibility strategy, 43 percent admit they have no energy efficiency objectives in place for the design and operation of their data centres.

Furthermore, only one in three (29 percent) of organisations are able to entirely quantify the environmental impact of their data centres. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 97 percent saw areas in which their data centre monitoring, including energy efficiency, could be improved.

Data centre electricity consumption is projected to increase to roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours annually by 2020 -- the equivalent annual output of 50 power plants. This will cost American businesses $13 billion annually in electricity bills and emit nearly 100 million metric tons of carbon pollution per year, according to a report by the US Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The NRDC report warned that the vast majority of energy is consumed in corporate data centres rather than those owned by the tech giants -- and these smaller data centres don't have the same focus on efficiency as their hyper-scale cloud counterparts, with a lack of proper metrics being one issue.

Green computing has slid down the list of corporate priorities over the last few years. The Green Grid said its research found the top challenges and opportunities at the board level were to do with reducing and predicting costs, rather than on 'green' or resource efficiency objectives.

While it said this is likely driven by customer requirements in an extremely competitive marketplace, The Green Grid warned: "Data centre managers need to adapt their ambitions for the future, moving away from immediate ROI towards long-term sustainability."

The research questioned 150 IT decision makers with data centre responsibilities in the UK, France and Germany.

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