According to Information Week, companies in every industry are getting into the “green” movement—more out of a desire to save money, rather than being motivated by saving the planet—by slashing operating costs. However, the scale of energy consumption is so immense that policymakers are considering additional regulation. A cadre of government and industry leaders is attempting to establish a clear green computer standard with which IT execs may have to comply.

Companies’ and government agencies’ desire to embed green criteria in IT requests for proposals inspired an IEEE council to create the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), and President Bush signed an executive order in late January, requiring 95 percent of all electronic products purchased by federal agencies to adhere to EPEAT standards, so long as a standard exists for that product. EPEAT standards currently only encompass PCs and monitors, but it is probable that will be extended to servers, routers, printers and cell phones.

Data centers are a major issue in terms of both energy consumption and the attention they are drawing from policy makers, and starting this summer the EPA must inform Congress how much energy data centers are using on a national scale and make recommendations for cutting consumption; the president’s mandate that EPEAT inform government purchases will build momentum for the standards.

EPEAT’s energy-consumption criteria use the EPA’s Energy Star requirements for PCs as a foundation, while its sensitive material criteria require companies’ adherence to the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances standards for cutting dangerous chemicals and elements out of products. Tapping a cheaper source of energy for data centers, such as hydroelectric power, is a solution some are pursuing, but most companies are focusing on efficiency-boosting measures, which can be found in innovations such as multicore processors, server virtualization, grid computing, blade servers and better cooling technology.         EC