A new bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives proposes a set of energy efficiency standards directed at federal data centres, requiring agencies to improve and develop strategies in an attempt to reduce their energy consumption.

The Energy Efficient Government Technology Act (HR 306) was sponsored by representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and was passed unanimously by voice vote. The bill now awaits a Senate vote.

HR 306 includes clauses requiring each federal agency to compile a report describing their efforts and results to improve energy efficiency in their data centres and computing infrastructure.

A comprehensive report, produced by the Secretary and Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, would then be made available, including comparisons with previous projections from the period 2008-2015, an analysis of the impact of virtualisation and cloud computing, as well as the impact of mobile devices, social media, and big data on data centre energy usage.

The Act also covers details regarding an Open Data Initiative, which would encourage the sharing of energy usage data in order to support data centre ‘innovation, optimization, and consolidation’ initiatives.

The bill outlines several strategies which the agencies must consider to boost their efficiency savings. These include deploying advanced metering infrastructure, intelligent power management tools and secure teleworking.

“As the nation’s largest energy user, landowner, and employer, the federal government should lead by example to improve the energy efficiency of its technology equipment and data centres,” said Eshoo. “This legislation will reduce the federal government’s energy use, save taxpayer dollars, and set the standard for the private sector.”

Data centres account for almost 2% of all U.S. electricity consumption, and 10% of the federal government’s electricity consumption. With over 2,000 federal data centres, the proposed efficiency legislation hopes to save the government as much as $5 billion in energy costs by 2020.

Last summer, the federal government announced an update to its Consolidation Initiative, now known as the Data Center Optimization Initiative. The scheme requires that all agencies develop and report on their plans to consolidate inefficient data centre infrastructure, optimise existing facilities, improve security, achieve cost-savings and deploy more efficient technologies.

The policy also stipulates that agencies can no longer allocate funds or resources to building new data centres or expanding existing sites without approval from the Office of Management and Budget.

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