Government Procurement of Green Data Centers

Information technology data centers are facilities that house a vast array of computer systems and equipment. Data centers are pervasive throughout the United States (U.S.) government, and are required to effectively manage the scale and complexity of information technology processes required to deliver various government services. Data centers support a multitude of critical business operations and information processing services for the federal government.

A significant amount of energy is required to power and cool the servers that compose a atypical data center. Since 2000, the overall rate of energy consumption for U.S. data centers, sourced primarily from polluting energy, has grown at an average of 14 percent per year. This trend is projected to continue as information technology services become ubiquitous. Moreover, research suggests that government dependency on scarce/vulnerable energy resources may have adverse consequences (i.e., security and aggregate cost concerns). However, a federal procurement guideline for green data center energy is still absent. This is an issue that must be remedied.

This report, “Green Data Center Federal Procurement Options,” compares alternatives to current data center service procurement trends based on: (1) total emissions, (2) relative cost, (3) performance, and (4) feasibility. Overall, the research herein suggests that, due to the complexity and variety of data center technology needs, a transformative green policy option is not currently available for data center services. However, it is recommended that the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) mandate energy measurement standards and encourage agency procurement officers to incorporate the Energy Star® Program guidance into future data center procurements.