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EPA Reaches Goal On Data Center Study

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the no-plans-to-talk-about-yet-anyway dept.

Government 75

1sockchuck writes "After initially struggling in its effort to find data center operators willing to share data about their energy usage, the EPA extended the program by a month and has managed to recruit 215 facilities to participate in its program to help the government develop an Energy Star program for data centers. An EPA official says there are no plans to regulate the data center industry."

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75 comments

no plans to regulate the data center industry... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24025667)

...yet.

Is the DEA ever proactive (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#24026011)

From my (very limited) understanding, the DEA are loath to do anything until congress/whatever forces them to grudgingly do something.

Anyone motivated enough to get the DEA to do anything will be keen to do some regulating. Getting the DEA to do an investigation is just a formality.

Re:Is the DEA ever proactive (2, Funny)

srjh (1316705) | more than 5 years ago | (#24026195)

DEA?

From my (also very limited) understanding of the DEA, they don't have a lot to do with energy usage and emissions controls.

DEA + EPA (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#24026223)

Then we can have War On Data Centers.

Yeah, sorry I meant EPA but for all the good they do they might as well send in the DEA to to the investigations.

Re:Is the DEA ever proactive (1)

ragefan (267937) | more than 5 years ago | (#24026281)

Hopefully the Drug Enforcement Agency would not be proactive about data center energy consumption. While energy usage is out of their jurisdiction, I can see how it is addictive... always having to plug in just one more server, or had more hard drives to reach maximum capacity.

Re:Is the DEA ever proactive (2, Funny)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | more than 5 years ago | (#24027077)

Maybe in the future the other DEA will be the Data Enforcement Administration and BURN data centers to the ground which commit, or allow people to commit DATA-CRIME.


Oh, remember the days when the DEA used to put out fires.

Smell my finger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24026155)

It wasn't playing with my anus 30 seconds ago.

"No plans"? Not quite. (4, Insightful)

Aussenseiter (1241842) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025671)

"I am not aware of any one planning any regulation of the data center industry," said Fanara. "There may be climate legislation at some point, but that's a broader issue."

Which is political shorthand for "you can bet your ass we'll be pushing for restrictions on data center power usage once the numbers come in".

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (2, Funny)

CDMA_Demo (841347) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025721)

If I was from Control, your data centers would already be throttled
If you were from Control, your data centers would already be throttled
Neither of our data centers are throttled, so obviously I'm not from Control.

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 5 years ago | (#24036111)

That actually makes sense!

(Damn, I have got to find time to see that movie!)

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (5, Insightful)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025915)

The government, with access to regulated utility records, knows exactly how much power a datacenter is using. And the energy star program applied for years to other commercial buildings has resulted in no federal mandates. You're basically pushing a line of FUD for... well no one benefits really. Hopefully you at least get a good Funny mod rating for your efforts to stunt the development of useful data to help the industry.

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (1)

ameoba (173803) | more than 5 years ago | (#24027157)

Without regard to the sort of content being dealt whith, it's completely irrational to apply any sort of standards to data-center power consumption. A data-center that simply regurgitates static continent is going to have significantly different power requirements than a site that is actively dealing with processing and transcoding user-generated content. Compare Youtube to a high-volume brochure-ware site for an extreme example.

The best the EPA could produce, without creating an unnecessary burden on hosts would be to publish standards for OSes and hardware when idle. Anything beyond that is infeasible - govt mandated requirements to use O(log(n)) algorithms instead of O(n^2) ones would be patently absurd.

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24028719)

Without regard to the sort of content being dealt whith, it's completely irrational to apply any sort of standards to data-center power consumption. A data-center that simply regurgitates static continent is going to have significantly different power requirements than a site that is actively dealing with processing and transcoding user-generated content. Compare Youtube to a high-volume brochure-ware site for an extreme example.

The best the EPA could produce, without creating an unnecessary burden on hosts would be to publish standards for OSes and hardware when idle. Anything beyond that is infeasible - govt mandated requirements to use O(log(n)) algorithms instead of O(n^2) ones would be patently absurd.

As a first point, the EPA is NOT looking to regulate data centers, just as they have not regulated schools, offices, hospitals, hotels, warehouses or any of the other types of buildings currently in the energy star database for the last decade or two.

Secondly, typically 37-50% of a data center's power usage goes to support systems: the cooling, UPS, and humidity control. Using the common metric PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness, or the SI-EER if you want to use the Uptime Institute's less smelly nomenclature) you can get a rough handle of the efficiency of a data center on this mechanical component - Total Data Center Power / UPS Output Power.

Completely off the table at the moment are the savings possible from virtualization and implementation of on-board power schemes (sleep modes and such). There is no good standardized way to measure this yet due to the types of problems you mention. But it is exceptionally easy to measure the amount of critical load in a data center (UPS output watts - done), although even that has some unexpected blurry edges (small variable speed fans within the rack can have surprisingly large kW swings in response to different mechanical fan schemes).

And again, why do you think the EPA is going to suddenly want to regulate data centers when they have never shown any inclination over the last couple decades to regulate any other type of building?

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 5 years ago | (#24030743)

The Energy Star program needs to establish a program for computer power supplies hands-down, and regulate it. That is the only way to make things work, and it isn't that hard.

As for Energy Star buildings (and speaking as an Energy Star Partner on that one), there might not be direct regulation by the EPA from that, but it did help the push for state energy efficiency codes.

The problem with making emergy efficiency benchmarks for Data Centers is that it is very difficult to provide prescriptive guidelines as you can for a general purpose building (so many watts/square foot for this, so many BTUs for that). You are then forced into making performance criteria that are difficult (if possible at all) to establish in the design phase of the building.

And of course the biggest hurdle-- in most cases efficiency runs counter to reliability. Sure, you can bump your data center temperature up to 80 (in the cold aisles)-- the equipment is rated for it. Of course, if you lose cooling for five seconds everything will overheat.

I would love to see data centers drop to 27% parasitic losses (including cooling). Unfortunately, too many of the investments have 6-10 year paybacks which makes them not commercially viable. Actually quantifying the performance is also nearly impossible-- software like E-Quest are a miserable attempt for much simpler buildings.

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24039467)

Intel is actually making a good push at moving the market to more efficient power supplies. That is going to happen. Data centers can be benchmarked, it's not simple but over the last few years we've developed some good metrics. Of course, prescriptive codes will probably never be applied - even California has not applied it's prescriptive codes to industrial spaces in the 30 odd years they been around. And if efficiency runs counter to reliability you need to fire your engineer. I know that does not have to be the case. And I'm appalled that you suggest that the cooling provided by the tiny air mass in a data center is anything like a usable buffer in case of a loss of cooling. The difference between 5 seconds to rack meltdown and 15 seconds to rack meltdown is irrelevant and I'd fire (or at least give a good educational berating) to any engineer who honestly suggested otherwise.

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24033879)

Without regard to the sort of content being dealt whith, it's completely irrational to apply any sort of standards to data-center power consumption.

Let me introduce you to my friend - Congress.

To do what? (1)

Capitalist1 (127579) | more than 5 years ago | (#24037909)

Useful data to help the industry? That's not what the government does. At best, we can hope that they don't completely destroy the industry while they put on the political theater that justifies their existence.

Re:To do what? (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24039441)

Do you have any idea how valuable the Energy Star program has been to just about every industry it touches? Your cheap shot makes you look stupid to anyone familiar with the documented reality of its impact. Improving the information distribution in a market is the best way to maximize market efficiency and having an independent entity (ideally the same as the contract enforcer, to use Adam Smith's terminology) provide the information format and dissemination is the cheapest way to do this.

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#24026237)

Don't get too jumpy. Obviously a slow steam of volunteers means there's a massive self presentation bias. I don't think offering a card and cookie boquet for any participants (or whatever pathetic compensation/reward they offer) is enough to draw in a truly random sample. If a data center is horribly ineffecient, would they ever volunteer to be inspected? UM NO! But if one was relatively efficient compared to others, they'd be more likely to volunteer. So overally it's going to look like data centers use less power than they actually do on average.

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#24027651)

Which will skew the numbers and when they do setup the EnergyStar program and make the equipment you do use seem like your datacenter is not only destroying the environment, contribute to AWG and that you club baby seals to death for fun and profit.

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24028823)

The flaw in your reasoning is that I have found over the last dozen or so data centers I've looked at, is that operators have no idea if their data center is inefficient or not. None. They can't even tell if their old Lieberts are less efficient than their new Emerson Liebert units (you'd be surprised), or how their cooling tower setpoint impacts their plant kW/ton. No clue. Never cared.

The typical "cookie" I've seen offered to sites is information - the data on how their site is performing and the (anonymized) data on how that compares to everyone else's site. Smart operators realize it is only to their benefit if they can find out their UPS system is a dog wasting an extra half-million dollar a year, or their air-cooled CRAC system is sucking down double the power of everyone else's chiller plant.

I am somewhat dismayed at how many folks involved in Information Technology appear to be just wire pluggers who have no comprehension of how valuable information is.

Re:"No plans"? Not quite. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24027013)

Which is political shorthand for "you can bet your ass we'll be pushing for restrictions on data center power usage once the numbers come in".

I'm confused. Which faction within the federal government do you think will be pushing for restrictions on data center power consumption... Big Oil, or the coal industry?

It's just 1.21GW (5, Funny)

lazyDog86 (1191443) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025735)

I for one seriously doubt that my flux-capacitor centric data center design will be receiving its Energy Star certification any time soon.

escuse the fuck out of me.. (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025741)

if the EPA is not addressing more pressing concerns why are they looking at data centers? I don't mean to be rude or obtuse, but if the EPA is only focused on items that have been industry concerns for over a year, perhaps they are better off just being quiet. This is the first step that would be needed for regulation, and followed shortly after by monitoring... WTF? The government won't as a whole admit to global warming, nor to anything like it... why ... oh WHY would the EPA start getting involved... IN data centers of all things?

Please people wake up!!!!

Re:escuse the fuck out of me.. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24025847)

The EPA like any government bureaucracy has several components, many of which don't necessarily fall into the realm of highly monitored policy. The Energy Star program has existed since 1992 and pretty much operates under the radar. The fact that the EPA runs the Energy Star program that certifies various components and processes for energy efficiency doesn't mean that there is a coordinated government policy at the EPA to monitor and regulate these components and processes. It is just a small office that handles the certifications. We are talking about a $7 billion/yr agency. Try not to put too much focus on the small Energy Star office which has had its budget cut by the Bush Administration.

Re: no plans... (5, Insightful)

udin (30514) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025767)

I share your natural skepticism of public officials' pronouncements, but there is another factor: it is in the data centers' own best interest to analyze their energy use, since it's their biggest cost by far. Since there's a relatively rapid turnover in gear (compared to, say, power plants), the data centers are going to be very interested in energy use best practices and best gear even without a government mandate. And so are the manufacturers of said gear--they also have a fairly short product cycle. They might be a little cranky if the government pushes them, but their customers are already pushing them by looking at instructions/watt as well as instructions/second.

Re: no plans... (3, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025795)

This is one of those areas that the government does NOT need to meddle. Price and market will fix it. period. go. ahead. argue. now.

Re: no plans... (5, Insightful)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025957)

The government acting as a neutral party to collect useful data is hardly meddling. Next you'll decide to rant about them meddling in pharmaceuticals by funding cancer research. The facts of the matter are that datacenter energy use is very poorly understood by owners and considered a negligible cost of the business. When benchmarked, datacenter efficiency has been found [lbl.gov] to vary by over a factor of two between facilities. Owners don't really know what is efficient - high bills are just part of the business, and competitors aren't willing to share good data on the subject. Hence the need for the government to provide some benchmarks, similar to the flawed, but better than nothing, mpg ratings for cars.

Re: no plans... (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#24026383)

The government acting as a neutral party to collect useful data is hardly meddling.

Why is the government wasting our money collecting data? If somebody finds it useful, let them collect the data themselves. Having a Rolls Royce would be useful, but that doesn't mean the government should buy me one.

The facts of the matter are that datacenter energy use is very poorly understood by owners and considered a negligible cost of the business.

The only thing the "owners" need to know is that using less energy costs them less money. If they're smart enough to build and run a data center, I guarantee you they're smart enough to figure that out by themselves.

Re: no plans... (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24029033)

The datacenter industry is highly competetive. While there are groups like the Uptime Institute that tackle large scale coordination, it is entirely in the government and society's best interest to offer public organization aid. And the taxes data centers pay MORE than covers the cost (and those taxes will NOT be coming in if they all move to India, a real risk as bandwidth becomes far cheaper than labor).

I am a consultant who works for and has worked for many large data center owners. I guarantee you that data center operators are not "smart" enough to figure out efficiency by them selves (hell, some aren't even smart enough to hire me ;). Well, they are, but only after marketing, maintenance contracting, staffing, connectivity contracts, capacity contracts, generator testing, airflow balance for the new racks, battery service, diesel contract, annual maintenance scheduling, roof inspection, etc. is covered. There are still hundreds of large data centers (over 2 MW critical load) running with rows of air cooled computer room air conditioner (Liebert). This is breathtakingly inefficient in 95% of climates and maintenance intensive to boot - but they're still being built. Not to mention all the little guys; are you're saying that every business out there throwing a little 1000 sf data center in the basement of their new building can make a good business case to invest in all this research?

I think we have a fundamental disagreement on the value of government research, which has wasted money on such things as polio vaccines or integrated circuits, versus a pure free market, as they have in Somalia today.

Re: no plans... (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#24035267)

And the taxes data centers pay MORE than covers the cost (and those taxes will NOT be coming in if they all move to India, a real risk as bandwidth becomes far cheaper than labor).

Well then, maybe the government should raise their taxes even higher. Just think of all the studies they could fund! I'm sure that won't drive any data centers to India.

Well, they are, but only after marketing, maintenance contracting, staffing, connectivity contracts, capacity contracts, generator testing, airflow balance for the new racks, battery service, diesel contract, annual maintenance scheduling, roof inspection, etc. is covered.

So basically, what you're saying is, data center efficiency isn't very important, but it's important enough to waste tax dollars on?

Not to mention all the little guys; are you're saying that every business out there throwing a little 1000 sf data center in the basement of their new building can make a good business case to invest in all this research?

I'm saying that doing research for businesses isn't the government's fucking job. Why is it that people on Slashdot are quick to point out how corporations are evil bastards out to make a buck, but when that would actually drive them to do the right thing (i.e. be energy efficient) they want the government to meddle anyway? Seriously, what the hell?

Re: no plans... (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24039401)

Your comment on taxes is moronic. Please clarify if you actually had an intelligent point.

Yes. I am saying data center efficiency is more important to society at large than to individual operators. This is a blatantly obvious fact and governments who have embraced it (for example, through the negawatt approach of avoiding capital-intensive new power plant projects used astonishingly successfully by many utility districts) have saved money and improved their environment. But don't let the well documented experiences of the past three decades get in the way of your heart felt (and never proven successful, anywhere, ever) libertarian/anarchist economic ideology.

Your clever idea to keep government out of doing research for business is one highly cherished by many third world countries. Not a single first world country is stupid enough to disregard decades of evidence and example to the contrary. I wonder why.

The government is meddling by providing free information to the market. This is as "meddlesome" as providing a standardized mpg rating or requiring nutritional information on food in the supermarket.

Other than an ideology as scorned by historical reality as Marxism, do you have any real-world examples of where your completely laissez-faire economy has ever worked? Even once?

Re: no plans... (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#24039639)

I'm sorry, but you still haven't shown any proof that this study needed to be done by the government. You can try to change the subject all you want, but that doesn't change the fact that any competitive data center would be aiming for higher efficiency because it directly lowers their costs and allows them to offer lower prices than their competitors.

Besides that, if the government isn't going to pass legislation based on the study results, why even bother? It's blatantly obvious that higher efficiency equates to lower costs, so if the data centers don't care now, why will they care after the study is finished?

Other than an ideology as scorned by historical reality as Marxism, do you have any real-world examples of where your completely laissez-faire economy has ever worked? Even once?

Here's a clue: If you live in a first world country there's a 100% chance your economy is based directly on the laissez-faire model. Chances are also high that the areas the most screwed up (i.e. telecom monopolies, etc) are the areas with the most government regulation and meddling. Until you can point out a single thriving economy based on socialism, communism, or whatever it is you're advocating, please STFU about how laissez-faire doesn't work.

Re: no plans... (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063661)

I'm sorry, but you still haven't shown any proof that this study needed to be done by the government. You can try to change the subject all you want, but that doesn't change the fact that any competitive data center would be aiming for higher efficiency because it directly lowers their costs and allows them to offer lower prices than their competitors.

This just is not true. I work in the industry, performing studies of this nature. The Uptime Institute, 24/7 Group, etc. are not enough to promote sharing of this data between rivals. In a similar arena (semiconductor cleanroom critical environments), I've been paid to do the same damn study three times - but the third and last time it was funded by the government (LBNL) and disseminated publicly (something industry groups, such as SEMATECH, do not do). That is efficiency that saves money on an industry wide scale (and I have plenty of work, I don't need to do the same thing over and over for every little group of companies out there). The government's investment saved industry ten, possibly a hundred fold, expenditure. That's good business on a national economy scale. Who else would be willing to invest in the economic commons?

Besides that, if the government isn't going to pass legislation based on the study results, why even bother?

The Energy Star program has proven across numerous fields the value of providing information to the market. Are you at all familiar with it's evaluated successes? How do you know the most efficient car to buy (government standardized test)? Most efficient refrigerator (government standardized test)? Most efficient hot water heater (government standardized test)? Or would you rather leave all those details in the hands of the lawyer-funded Consumer Reports or something?

It's blatantly obvious that higher efficiency equates to lower costs, so if the data centers don't care now, why will they care after the study is finished?

Data center operators do not know what an efficient system is, just as you probably do not know how your house's energy use compares to similar houses in your climate (unless you utilized the government's "useless" Energy Star database that has led to no regulation).

Here's a clue: If you live in a first world country there's a 100% chance your economy is based directly on the laissez-faire model. Chances are also high that the areas the most screwed up (i.e. telecom monopolies, etc) are the areas with the most government regulation and meddling. Until you can point out a single thriving economy based on socialism, communism, or whatever it is you're advocating, please STFU about how laissez-faire doesn't work.

You express scorn for publicly funded research (what this entire thread is about) and call it worthless, "socialist," especially if it does not lead to regulation (odd emphasis for you to make, but so be it). Thriving economies that fall under your distorted definition of socialist (ie, government funding of basic research, the subject of this thread) include: The US, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Israel, Germany, France (OK, a bit of stretch there) - actually, can you give me a single country that DOES NOT fund basic research and provide data to the public that has a successful industry? Your absolutist vision of Laissez-faire does not work and has never been implemented (I would argue that based on his writings, Adam Smith clearly accepted the value of public investment in the commons and the extension of that to include intellectual development).

Re: no plans... (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#24063981)

Data center operators do not know what an efficient system is, just as you probably do not know how your house's energy use compares to similar houses in your climate (unless you utilized the government's "useless" Energy Star database that has led to no regulation).

But to money on energy I don't need to know how similar houses compare to mine. Neither do data center operators. It's useless trivia, at best.

You express scorn for publicly funded research (what this entire thread is about) and call it worthless, "socialist," especially if it does not lead to regulation (odd emphasis for you to make, but so be it).

No, you're putting words in my mouth. I'm against spending tax money on research that businesses should be doing for themselves. The only people benefiting from this study will be data center operators. The energy saved by implementing their plans isn't enough to noticeably decrease energy prices for anybody else, and there will be even less of an environmental impact.

As for only wanting the government to perform studies only when they're going to regulate something, it's not an odd stance at all. There are times when government meddling is the best option. I don't think those situations occur very often, and I definitely don't think this is one of those cases, but when it is necessary, I'd like them to at least have some understanding of what they're going to be meddling with.

Re: no plans... (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 5 years ago | (#24030937)

All investments in energy efficiency have to have a measurable payback. A more efficient chiller system will cost about 50% more than the most basic system, and pay back over 5-6 years.

But, that basic system can be re-started in under 3 minutes while the advanced system requires 15 minutes. The basic system can be repaired by anybody, but the advanced system requires a specialized technician.

Suddenly, in order to meet reliability objectives, the data center operator must buy both systems, at a 150% premium and no payback.

There are organizations that help share information among competitors (like 7x24 Exchange). Having the EPA jump into the mess helps to fast-track a lot of the changes (even when they don't always have the best ideas).

Re: no plans... (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24039427)

I have seen more than once a big 'ol tank of water more than deal with long restart time issues (which I am not aware of with modern chillers, but could certainly exist if you're using crap Carriers or something in your plant). And payback is an awful way to assess the value of any measure - IRR or ROI calcs are the metrics businesses tend to prefer.

The most efficient data center design I'm working on at the moment is simpler to maintain than a standard system. And almost anything is easier than laying out five dozen individual CRAC units per building (miles of refrigerant piping, 120 compressors, 240 condenser fans) yet people still use that insane approach.

How is the EPA fast-tracking changes, or promoting ideas? I'm quite baffled how providing a database of typical data center power usage does anything like what you are suggesting, and they have certainly never used the similar databases they have created for other building types to do anything like that.

Re: no plans... (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#24036577)

> Next you'll decide to rant about them meddling in pharmaceuticals by
> funding cancer research.

What does subsidizing a positive externality have to do with legislating a negative externality. They are not only completely different things, but the exact opposite approach (market vs. legislative) to government.

Where is meta-moderating when you need it...

> The facts of the matter are that datacenter energy use is very poorly
> understood by owners and considered a negligible cost of the business

What are you talking about? My consulting firm alone has done numerous "Green IT" projects with data centers being the bulk of it. Why would they pay our tier-1 rates if they considered energy use to be a "negligible cost of the business". Seriously, what are you basing this assertion on?!

Re: no plans... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025995)

Energy Star isn't the government meddling, it's a strictly voluntary program to get a certified power usage metric on a standardized test. In fact I'm surprised someone like UL didn't come out with something like it before the government did, I guess it just goes to show how cheap energy was!

Re: no plans... (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#24029469)

You do realize that the government has had regulations for the energy use in refrigerators for some 25 years now. They've been lowering the ceiling on electricity usage and efficiency of refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and air conditioners, and forcing manufacturers to state, on a big yellow tag, how much electricity their appliance uses. Creating the Energy Star program provided a means for companies to differentiate their products in a positive way, by being able to brag their products used XX% less energy than the regulation. As a result, the fridge you buy today uses significantly less electricity than a few decades ago (I don't have figures in front of me, but it's like 1/3-1/5th).

Go ahead and cry that the government has meddled and that we're all going to hell for interfering in the market. For myself, I'm glad that I can buy a fridge that doesn't cost an arm and a leg to operate. Yes, believe it or not, those bits of government regulation have saved me money. I highly doubt that I would have those same efficient choices available to me today otherwise. The government made the rules through regulation, then let industry sort out how to make it happen. Markets are great at reacting to things, but they aren't as good at having the foresight to avoid crises through long-term planning.

Had the government worked to increase fuel economy in automobiles starting 10-15 years ago, the Big Three might not now be playing second fiddle to Toyota and Honda, and $4/gal gasoline wouldn't be such a hardship.

Re: no plans... (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025989)

You're a little optimistic about data center's approach to their own best interest. There has been quite a bit of work done in the area of data center best practices [lbl.gov] and not a heck of a lot of interest. For example, hot aisle / cold aisle is still honestly debated and considered a 'new' idea in many legacy data centers. Power is still quite cheap and very low on the site totem pole below connectivity and reliability.

Of course, no one was willing... (5, Funny)

hawkeye_82 (845771) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025811)

After initially struggling in its effort to find data center operators willing to share data about their energy usage

Well duh!! None of the data center operators opened their email.

Re:Of course, no one was willing... (2, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#24026387)

If data-center power consumption is that much of a problem then they could install mandatory sysadmin-powered treadmills, killing two birds with one stone: the fat bastards could run all the lard off their asses while lowering operating costs and saving the environment. Don't laugh, many gyms already do it [cherryflava.com].

Re:Of course, no one was willing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24031689)

Especially with operations run by people like this http://thewebsiteisdown.com

no plans to regulate the industry (0)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025945)

Excuse me. We're from the government. May we come in and measure your energy usage? We have no intention of actually using any information we learn.

Who was dumb enough to let them in?????

Re:no plans to regulate the industry (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24025987)

just shut the fuck up. you don't have a valid point, you're just pissing and moaning like a fag. if you want to bring something up than bring it up. otherwise you're just a waste of skin. so shut the fuck up.

nigger

Re:no plans to regulate the industry (4, Insightful)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24026009)

Question: How has the government used the enormous database of commercial building power usage, which is still larger in aggregate than data centers? Other than providing a useful tool [energystar.gov] for setting design goals, what nefarious federal regulations have been spawned by this evil data collection, analysis, and presentation?

Plans to regulate far more (0)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24026491)

Are you talking about the same government that has now outlawed the further manufacturer and sale of inexpensive incandescent light bulbs (to take effect in a few years), leaving us with the option of pricey fluorescent ones that are an environmental mercury hazard whenever one breaks? And lets not ever talk about the problems of running your EZ-bake oven with a fluorescent bulb, or your Lava-Lamp, or even trying to find a fluorescent bulb at will not self destruct if you use it as the light inside your oven (neat place for a mercury melt-down). I don't see completely outlawing incandescent bulbs as very hands off.

Are you talking about the same government that mandated that we switch to daylight saving time earlier in the spring and later in the fall, to save energy, even though it "broke" lots of watches and clocks that knew the old schedule to make the switch automatically? And, by the way, even though it turns out that the change really costs more energy, rather than saving anything?

I could go on, but I think we see where this is headed. You believe that the government is going to solve the problem for you. I believe what Ronald Regan said.

Re:Plans to regulate far more (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24026561)

I believe what Ronald Regan said.

And there is the source of your paranoid excitability. Reagan was a damn actor.

Re:Plans to regulate far more (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24036749)

Reagan was a damn actor.

I thought he was a thespian. And not all that great of one. What made him a damn actor? Are you showing some bias issues here? And the rest of them are politicians. And many politicians are lawyers. Pretty easy choice of which to believe there.

Re:Plans to regulate far more (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24029875)

From wikipedia (although you can drag it from the original bill if you want to): "... when the federal Clean Energy Act of 2007[5] was signed into law on December 19, 2007. This legislation effectively banned (by January 2014) incandescent bulbs that produce 310 - 2600 lumens of light. Bulbs outside this range (roughly, light bulbs currently less than 40 Watts or more than 150 Watts) are exempt from the ban. Also exempt are several classes of specialty lights, including appliance lamps, "rough service" bulbs, 3-way, colored lamps, and plant lights."

Lets just say I'm not impressed when all your catastrophic examples (OMG! I won't be able to run my lava lamp or EZ Bake oven!!11!) are, in fact, completely made up. Not to mention completely irrelevant; regulating individual appliances is far different than regulating buildings, which the feds have never done despite having the data for decades. Why should I waste time responding to any of your other opinions or "reasoning?"

Sorry, but I oppose self-esteem coddling: What you wrote was stupid and you should be a bit embarrassed for having said it.

Re:Plans to regulate far more (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24036853)

So you want to jump on my EZ-bake over quip (intended for what I though was obvious exateration, didn't Ralph Nader and his lot tell us that our kids couldn't have them long ago anyway?), but choose to ignore the bigger issue of mercury contamination in our homes and landfills, why? And the added costs to consumers (if alternatives were really cheaper the free market would take care of itself)? And the issues of the daylight saving time energy debacle?

Re:Plans to regulate far more (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24039329)

Because your concerns about mercury are incredibly well documented to be absolutely stupid, since the mercury emissions to the environment from the coal based power grid in the US are far more harmful. Incandescent bulbs are a greater mercury pollution risk due to the coal plant emissions they directly require to operate (versus a comparable CFL), which ends up in and on the homes of at least half the US population, than the trivial amounts used in CFLs, no matter what the nice lady trying to get you to sign the petition to ban di-hydrogen monoxide told you. This is well documented and measured fact if you care about reality. And none of that "my power comes from clean hydro/nuclear/wind/fairy farts bullshit - it's a national grid (rickity, but functional) and a commodity product. The free market is useless if true costs are not enforced by an outside authority on products. Energy waste is a classic tragedy of the commons to put it simply (since I don't want to waste my time getting into details of split incentives and the current regulatory climate's favoring of capital intensive projects over load reduction with you). No real comment on daylight savings. I don't get my panties in a bunch about moving my clock by an hour. Other than a slightly batty neighbor-of-a-friend in Indiana, you're the only other person I've found who could give a rats ass about it.

regulator doesn't want to regulate. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#24025997)

yeah right. they are just collecting all this data for shits and giggles.

Regulation would be the next step (1)

z_gringo (452163) | more than 5 years ago | (#24026859)

An EPA official says there are no plans to regulate the data center industry."

right.. They need the data first. Then they will start making the regulation plans.

Re:Regulation would be the next step (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24029097)

Sigh. Again, why hasn't the EPA regulated any of the dozen or so building types that have been in their Energy Star program for over a decade? Buildings that combined use far more energy than data centers? What would be the possible framework for such a federal mandate? Even California doesn't regulate data centers, and they have the data and have been regulating other building types since the 70's (enormously successfully BTW, leading to the most efficient building stock in the nation and absurdly low kW/capita requirements even after weather is taken into account).

We had tax money left in the budget... (1)

T3Tech (1306739) | more than 5 years ago | (#24026931)

that we couldn't just let go to waste (back into the general fund - they might give it back to taxpayers as a refund), so we've decided to do a study and come up with an Energy Star rating for.... uhh... datacenters! they use alot of electricity - we'll start handing out a shiny gold^H^H^H^H Energy Star rating for ones that don't use so much. This should be interesting.

How many 1000 sq ft. data centers? (1)

labcfo (888658) | more than 5 years ago | (#24027713)

So the EPA couldn't talk the other Federal Agencies into participating with their data centers? EPA has a Headquarters plus 10 regional offices = 11 data centers. EPA has some influence on every state's Department of Environmental Protection = 50 data centers. Almost every state has at least 1 state run lab = 50 data centers. Universities? I'm pretty sure they have data centers and some get money from the EPA. They should've been able to find hundreds of data centers without leaving their own back yard. And if they've outsourced data center management - make participation in the measurement program part of the contract.

Re:How many 1000 sq ft. data centers? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#24028723)

office != data center. They're not talking about a couple server racks in a closet. They're talking about dedicated supermarket sized server facilities.

Most DOE/DoD labs will have a high-performance computing cluster / supercomputer. That = data center.

Most data centers have had overall efficiency as a secondary metric. Now people are starting to realize how large a portion of their overall hosting costs are related to inefficient hosting.

The idea is to make it easy for dumb consumers. An energy star rating could convince some people to host one place or another, just like it convinces some people to buy one freezer over another.

TerraPass (1)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 5 years ago | (#24027973)

TerraPass sells carbon offsets for personal and business use. If you look at TerraPass for Business [terrapass.com], you'll see they estimate something for servers in a data center. I have heard that the number includes an average power draw for the electronics, plus cooling, security, networking, and related materials -- somewhere over 500 watts.

We're considering TerraPass, though we haven't come to any conclusions yet.

ooooh, I'm scared of the government (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 5 years ago | (#24028017)

Wouldn't it be nice if your rack had 1 big power supply with standardized plugs, that every vendor's kit would plug into, instead of individual power supplies (and tiny screeching fans) for every box in the rack?

Since the industry has completely failed on this front, maybe it's time for an "EnergyStar Rack Certification" with compliance specs and a cute logo.

I'm no AC engineer, but maybe it makes sense to have 1 big fan at the top and a standardized duct fitting on every racked unit, helping to pull hot air right out of the rack.

My point is that when you start packing that much stuff into a small space there's got to be a better way to share power/heat/whatever than what we're doing now, and if the gov't has to be the one to set the spec, it's only because the industry couldn't get their head out of their collective ass and set one themselves.

Re:ooooh, I'm scared of the government (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24029945)

I am an AC engineer, and it makes a hell of a lot of sense to have a standardized air outlet. But cooling densities are so high that airflow requirements dictate the outlet be about the size of the entire back of the rack...

And the government DOES NOT have to set a requirement, just provide a rational and well thought out specification. It is appropriate to allow the market to dictate adoption or rejection of the spec.

Re:ooooh, I'm scared of the government (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 5 years ago | (#24032905)

Even a half-assed spec would be miles ahead of today's mess. If anyone comes out with a rational, well-thought out spec that isn't welded to a particular vendor, the market will be all over it like rabid piranhas.

Not For The Record (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24031745)

A.C. for a reason. I am officially on one EnergyStar committee for my company and an observer on two more. Let me tell you that E* is a sham and pure green washing. It is used by business to give brownie badges to what they already do to avoid having to do anything real. YOU, yes YOU need to get on those committees and go to those meetings and listen in on those phone conferences. This is the publics business and you need to be there or you will get the shaft. Also, give money to NRDC they are the only environmental group that I've seen that is showing up and doing the real work of hiring engineers and sitting on these committees.

EPA is unconstitutional (1)

SonicSpike (242293) | more than 5 years ago | (#24038515)

Nowhere in the US Constitution is the federal government authorized to regulate the environment. The EPA should be abolished.

Not to worry, folks (1)

dave87656 (1179347) | more than 5 years ago | (#24040077)

It's not in the best interest of the government to limit the ability of data centers to collect private data about American citizens.

There, I said it. ...

"Knock. Knock Neo ..."

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