A Priority and a Plan

A new cross-industry survey on IT energy efficiency suggests that the highest energy savings are among organizations that make energy reduction a priority and have well-defined energy management strategies in place.

Higher education institutions are making progress toward more IT energy efficiencies, but saving energy is still a relatively low priority compared to other IT projects, and most institutions report they do not have a defined IT energy management plan. This is according to 152 higher education institutions that participated in CDW-G’s 2009 Energy Efficient IT Report.

In a follow-up to its 2008 study on the same topic, the national technology reseller canvassed five industries-- K-12 schools, higher ed institutions, federal government agencies, state and local governments, and mid-size to large businesses-- to track practices, challenges, and successes in IT energy efficiency.

If higher ed institutions were to adopt a full menu of IT energy reduction initiatives, they could save up to 16% or $352K annually on IT energy costs*.

Of the higher education IT participants, only 21 percent ranked energy use reduction as "very important" compared to other IT projects, although none of the sectors ranked energy reduction much higher-- the 27 percent of K-12 respondents who said reducing energy was a top priority represented the highest percentage among all the market sectors surveyed. (The survey claims an individual industry sample equates to a margin error level of ±8 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.)

Even without energy savings as a high priority, the survey found improvement in higher ed IT energy practices and efficiencies over the previous year. Thirty-six percent of higher ed respondents now have defined IT energy reduction programs in place, compared with 31 percent in 2008. And of those with programs, a greater number are realizing more efficiencies: In 2009, over half (54 percent) reported reduced IT energy costs of 1 percent or more, compared with 38 percent in 2008. One percent of the average higher ed IT budget spent on energy ($2.2M) represents about $22K in annual savings. The study estimates that if higher ed institutions were to adopt a full menu of IT energy initiatives (such as purchasing Energy Star qualifying devices and virtualizing servers and storage), they could save up to 16 percent or $352K annually on IT energy expenditures.

The CDW-G report suggests that having IT energy management strategies in place is probably the single most important factor in determining whether an organization will reduce energy costs. CDW-G’s analysis points to four key practices of successful IT energy management:

  1. Institutions need to directly ask IT to manage energy efficiency as a priority and then support the effort across the institution.
  2. IT organizations need to inform all of their operations about the tools available to monitor IT energy efficiency.
  3. IT should designate an energy advocate within its organization to take responsibility for tracking consumption and advocating for improvements.
  4. Institutions should recognize and reward IT efforts that result in energy reductions and savings. To see the full report, go here.

*Based on average higher ed IT budget spent on energy: $2.2M

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