You’re paying too much

Those shoes you bought last week, that new furniture you ordered, your laundry bill, even that trendy shirt cost too much.  Why? because the manufacturers, and their supply chain have wasted energy, that in turn means higher costs that ultimately you as consumer have to pay.  As you reading there are countless injection moulding machines, chillers, entire data centres, and other production equipment operated with careless abandon wasting energy Gigawatts of energy with nobody minding the store. I have visit many facilities, a couple of recent examples might surprise you:

  • Comfort air conditioning plant running 24 hours/day for an office block with only 9-5 occupancy!
  • Steam systems where process equipment burns unnecessary fuel, poor steam distribution, no condensate recovery

Reality bites, its you the consumer pays that for this waste.

Why waste energy?
So the real question: why do these businesses keep wasting energy? Is it the often cited lack of technology, finance, or availability of know how? I think not. Seriously, is it that difficult to Goggle energy consultant, pick up a phone and ask? It might be an awareness problem, but it’s not a shortage of resource problem.

A code problem?
One of the often cited explanations is absentee regulation. Generally every facility must be built to the current “code” for example the local fire code. But in circumstances where no code exists, i.e. energy waste, there is no limitation to the amount can be wasted.  However, assume for a moment the plant was efficient on day one, it is commonly recognized that maintenance budgets are wholly inadequate, so over time the plant efficiency deteriorates resulting in excessive waste. For buildings an energy code is not going to solve all the problems.

Accountability
Yes, having an Energy Czar, reporting at board level puts a driver at the wheel of the bus, but is that enough? You also need the ability to handle change, without guidance and drive we all generally work to avoid change. We are creatures of habit, and prefer the easy way, its less stressful, less pain, than considering change.  We need support, we need systems to motivate and embrace change. And I feel that is the real key to understanding energy efficiency projects, we all know having management “buy in” is critical, however if the employees fear change little progress would be made.

Often the employees already know where energy could be saved, but businesses are not structured to leverage that knowledge. Large facilities with quality circles, etc. have the opportunity to use that change structure to benefit the bottomline.

– John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

helping lower the cost and impact of doing business in Asia

data centre energy efficiency

It’s not a secret, my most frequent comment in energy audit work is that a director/senior director takes responsibility for “energy”.  It is clear if you review the processes, energy costs are overlooked, and considered as a fixed expense. When the electricity, oil or town gas demand hits the mat, it is paid with little or no scrutiny.

With the recent introduction of carbon footprint into management vernacular perhaps now energy will finally have a seat in board room. If not through carbon foot-printing then pressure for CSR reporting, and sustainable business practices will provide the needed energy oversight at board room level.

If proof is need, I read that the Uptime Institute (USA) has caught up. They recommend, in a typically flamboyant style it must said, that in the data centre space organisations assign an “Energy Czar” and that’s great news. However, a recent Uptime Institute survey of the executives and IT managers found that although 41% were aware of the recommendation to create an energy Czar position, only 13% had assigned a personnel.

So for the time being I’ll have to keep fighting for an energy Czar’s in the firms here in Asia.

energy efficiency of data
Across the planet bits and bytes sit on hard drives and virtual servers, helping business, why the sudden interest in data centre energy efficiency? It energy consumption became a key issue in initially in USA, when the US EPA issued a report with some startling figures, it focused attention on the infrastructure cost to provide IT services we have all grown to reply upon, including every blog note ever written. It also highlighted the existing inefficiencies found in the data center environment. It sparked new debates if servers should be powered by DC or AC, power supply manufacturers where reminded of the poor conversation efficiencies.

New metrics, include PUE were created by IT consortium with little thought about the real meaning of efficiency or efficacy.

John Herbert
Consultant
Kelcroft E&M Limited