Green IT has flourished in datacenters across the United States and beyond over the past couple of years, driven primarily by organizations' desire to cut costs on energy, cooling, new hardware investments, and facility expansion or construction projects. A new driver for honing datacenter efficiency is now looming, however, and datacenter operators should pay heed: Governmental regulation is coming, and the industry needs to prepare.
Such is the argument laid out by Mike Manos, senior vice president of technical services at Digital Realty Trust. Manos -- formerly the general manager of Microsoft's datacenter division -- argues in his blog that political leaders will soon shine a legislative spotlight on datacenters in the name of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to prevent global warming. "Whether you view this to be a good thing or bad thing, it's something that you and your company are going to have to start planning for very shortly. This is no longer a drill," he cautions.
[ Learn why and how IT can prepare for forthcoming carbon regulations. ]
Moreover, Manos makes the case that datacenter operators need to get involved now in helping develop the aforementioned regulation, unless pencil-pushers who don't understand datacenters crank out unreasonable or unsuitable rules.
Already we've seen governmental bodies paying special attention to the technology industry -- specifically datacenters. Manos points to the United Kingdom's Carbon Reduction Commitment, introduced as part of the Climate Change Act 2008. "The main purpose of the CRC is a mandatory carbon reduction and energy efficiency scheme aimed at changing energy use behaviors and further [incentivizing] the adoption of technology and infrastructure," Manos writes. "While not specifically aimed at datacenters (it's aimed at everyone), you can see that by its definition, datacenters will be significantly affected."
U.K. organizations can expect a carbon cap-and-trade system to be implemented in 2010. They'll face limits on how much CO2 they can emit. Companies that are able to produce fewer emissions than they're allowed will be able to sell their extra CO2 emissions permits to companies that can't keep their emissions within bounds. Organizations that fail to comply face fines (not to mention bad PR).
Why do datacenter managers specifically need to take heed? Organizations that consumed more than 6,000 MWh (megawatt hours) in 2008 need to participate in the program, and as significant consumers of energy, datacenters will not escape scrutiny.