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Better Buildings Challenge Expands to Take on Data Centers

Summary: 
The President's Better Buildings Challenge expands to take on data centers, which consumed about 100 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity last year, representing more than 2% of all U.S. electricity use.

Data center energy use has grown rapidly in recent years and is expected to continue to grow. In 2013, U.S. data centers consumed about 100 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, representing more than 2% of all U.S. electricity use. If all U.S. data centers were just 20% more efficient, we could save more than 20 billion kWh by 2020 as a nation. That translates to roughly $2 billion in cost savings.

That’s why the President’s Better Buildings Challenge is expanding to take on data centers with 19 new partners today.  The Better Buildings Challenge was launched in 2011 to help American commercial, industrial, and multifamily buildings become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020.  Across the country, Better Buildings Challenge partners have completed upgrades to more than 9,000 facilities with 2,100 buildings improving efficiency by least 20 percent, and another 4,500 by at least 10 percent, compared to their baseline years. 

The new partners joining the Better Buildings Challenge today include national laboratories; Federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense, and the Social Security Administration; as well as companies including CoreSite Realty Corporation, ebay inc., and Staples. For example, the Social Security Administration recently announced that its new national data center in Frederick, Maryland, will use about 30 percent less electricity than a typical data center. 

These partners are pledging to improve the efficiency of data centers which altogether are currently consuming more than 90 megawatts of power:

  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • CoreSite Colocation Realty Corporation
  • U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Information Systems Agency
  • Digital Realty
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration
  • ebay, inc.
  • Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • The Home Depot
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Michigan State University
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Schneider Electric
  • Social Security Administration
  • Staples
  • U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

The Department of Energy will work with the data center owners and operators to improve efficiency when Challenge partners install emerging IT systems and technologies. Like all Challenge partners, the new data center partners will work with the Department of Energy to share publically their results and savings, which will be made available on the Better Buildings Challenge website.

Kate Brandt is the Federal Environmental Executive at the White House Council on Environmental Quality