The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that stand-alone data centers and buildings that house large data centers can now earn the Energy Star label. To do so, data centers must be in the top 25 percent of their peers in energy efficiency according to the EPA’s energy performance scale. By improving efficiency, centers can save energy and money.

EPA uses a commonly accepted measure for energy efficiency, the power usage effectiveness metric, to determine whether a data center qualifies for the Energy Star label. Before being awarded the Energy Star, a licensed professional must independently verify the energy performance of these buildings and sign and seal the application document that is sent to the EPA for review and approval.

Data centers are found in nearly every sector of the economy and deliver vital information technology services, including data storage, communications and Internet accessibility. Data centers use a significant amount of energy, accounting for 1.5 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption at a cost of $4.5 billion annually, an amount that is expected to almost double over the next five years.

Significant energy and cost savings are possible through modest gains in efficiency. The energy consumed by data centers is growing every year. Based on the latest available data, improving the energy efficiency of America’s data centers by just 10 percent would save more than 6 billion kilowatt-hours each year, enough to power more than 350,000 homes and save more than $450 million annually.

Data centers can improve energy efficiency in many ways, such as purchasing Energy Star-qualified servers and ensuring that all heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment functions properly. Electrical contractors can help data center owners in this endeavor.