Seeking Energy Savings at the Heart of the Internet

By Kate Galbraith on October 11, 2009

Scattered around the world are scores of data centers that sift through the endless streams of information that keep the Internet and office computers running. In the United States alone, those data centers accounted for 1.5 percent of the country’s electricity use in 2006 — more than the entire state of Massachusetts. And their power use could nearly double over five years, according to government reports.

Experts say that data centers present an obvious opportunity to improve efficiency.

“It’s becoming a big deal,” said Dale Sartor, an energy efficiency expert at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory near San Francisco. He noted that in some cases, the energy costs of a server over its useful life of three or four years exceeded the initial cost of the server itself.

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