Energy Star for Server and Data Center, Consumer Reports Raises Interesting Issues

The US EPA has the energy star program for Enterprise Server and Data Center.

Enterprise Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency Initiatives

EPA is working with all interested parties to identify ways in which energy efficiency can be measured, documented, and implemented in data centers and the equipment they house, especially servers. Provided below are EPA's current initiatives in this area:

Consumer Reports raises Issues with the Energy Star program.  Hopefully, the server and data center program can avoid the pitfalls mentioned for appliances.

Qualifying standards are lax
About 25 percent of products in a category should qualify, according to the EPA. But until recently, for example, 92 percent of all dishwashers qualified. Under a tighter standard, it's now about 50 percent. A high number of residential-use oil-fired boilers (67 percent) and dehumidifiers (60 percent) also qualify for the Energy Star program.

Tests are out of date
Federal test procedures haven't kept pace with technology, a point Energy Star leadership conceded in a meeting with Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

"A number of test procedures are out of date or problematic," says David B. Goldstein, codirector of the energy program at the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "Part of the reason is that the DOE doesn't have the staff they need to do very much on test procedures. There's also willpower. They don't want to do it."

What's more, it usually takes the DOE three years to publish new rules—a period that includes comments from manufacturers, organizations such as Consumers Union, and others—and another three years for the updated minimum efficiency requirements to take effect. Comment cycles at other federal agencies are much shorter.

Input into the rule-making process by those who have a vested interest in easy-to-meet standards, such as manufacturers, can also help dilute those standards. "Because of all the parties involved, you may get a level that isn't as aggressive as it could be," says Jennifer Thorne Amann, director of the buildings program for the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Companies test their own products
The DOE does not test products for compliance with its Energy Star standards; manufacturers do it. And there's no independent verification of what they report. Rather, the government relies on manufacturers to test their competitors' appliances and notify it of suspicious energy-use claims.