What is the Energy Star Certification?

Going “green” for data centers has become imperative. Energy costs are rising, so energy efficient operations are more important to the bottom line of many centers. In addition, companies are becoming more environmentally conscience, as are their customers. More energy efficient and environmentally sound practices can lead to cost saving. In fact, data centers that have implemented an energy conservation strategy tend to have much higher revenues as compared to those that haven’t.

One part of a conservation strategy is to obtain energy efficiency certifications. The Energy Star Certification is one such certification system that has been formulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection. There are numerous benefits attached to this certification, including possible increased revenue. However, there are still a number of disadvantages as well. That is why many data centers are still shying away from getting such certifications.

Disadvantages of Energy Star Certification

Although there is no renewal fee related with the Energy Star Certification, the process can be quite complicated. Many data center experts feel that the process requires dedicated attention, which can be cumbersome. They feel that time and energy spent on the renewal process is better invested in other matters directly concerning facility performance and profitability.
Many data center experts have commented on the inability of the Energy Star certification to take into account geographical parameters. Cooling systems within a data center consume a lot of energy normally. That is why if cooling cost is minimized, the energy rating of a data center will automatically go up. There are some regions within the United States where it is possible to get free cooling in some cases. These data centers would easily be able to get an Energy Star certification without having optimized their power utilization infrastructure.
Moreover, under the protocols of Energy Star Certification, a data center must undergo an evaluation period of 11 months. After the evaluation period has passed, the data center is either provided with a certification or it has to reapply. Therefore, 
a newly built data center with an extremely efficient power utilization infrastructure would still have to undergo the same evaluation period. This is regardless of its actual energy utilization rating that is a result of design and construction. 

Lastly, the Energy Star certification is only aimed at analyzing the energy ratings of data centers. It does not factor in other significant aspects that relate to sustainable development. In fact, the actual goal of any data center is to work towards establishing a sustainable structure. Power utilization is an important factor, but there are many others that affect the environment. As data centers customers are requesting more environmentally conscious practices, the facilities are making many changes. Some are energy efficient, but some are involved with recycling or water conservation, etc. These are not taken into account with the Energy Star certification.

Due to the above factors, the majority of data centers generally opt for certifications such as an LEED certification. This internationally recognized certification provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design. It also covers green construction, operations and maintenance solutions.
Overall, certification systems are a good way to implement green strategies, but they can come with prohibitive regulations and processes. Data center managers and their customers should be aware of the challenges before they decide on a certification to work toward. Nevertheless, both the LEED and Energy Star Certification lead to more profitability for Data Centers. For companies that want to ensure that they are able to cut down on costs related to energy utilization, the Energy Star certification is a great initiative.

Author Bio: 
Ted Allred analyzes different cities in the United States to determine the best locations for data centers and colocation. Ted strongly urges companies to seek out geographically "safe" cities when selecting a data center.
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