Ohara said participation could help construction companies expand the role they play in new data-center projects, increasing competition. "If they had this knowledge and information, the construction industry guys could get involved in a project earlier on, versus being handed the drawings at the end and being told to go build it," he said.
Not surprisingly, large engineering firms reject the idea that they are holding back the industry. Bruce Edwards, president of CCG Facilities Integration, one of the largest engineering companies, said data centers have seen significant innovation in the last 10 years, in areas such as electrical power delivery and cooling.
"It's not like we're sitting there parceling out the work; we're at each others throats," he said.
He also questioned the need for another industry group. "The idea that a nonprofit, collaborative, noncompetitive model will be a powerful engine to drive innovation -- I'm not convinced of it at this point," Edwards said.
The alliance says it doesn't aim to compete with groups like the Green Grid Forum and the Uptime Institute, but that it is frustrated with the rate of progress.
"These groups have been out espousing best practices for years," Manos wrote in his blog. "They do a great job of highlighting the challenges we face, but for the most part have waited around for universal good will and monetary pressures to make them happen. It dawned on us that there was another way."