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A previously stalled energy efficiency bill has been reintroduced both as individual parts and as a more comprehensive omnibus bill affecting federal government buildings.

Last week a bi-partisan bill (H.R. 1268) was introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif) and four other co-sponsors from both parties; this bill would specifically target Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to promote energy efficiency via information and computing technologies, with a large portion dedicated to data center efficiency. Among its provisions, the bill seeks to create new metrics for measuring energy use in federal data centers – and enforce new energy efficiency standards.

The slow-grinding wheels of democracy

The bill is now awaiting further discussion and assignment within the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The comprehensive Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014 was overwhelmingly approved (375-36) by the US House during the previous congressional term, but then hit a roadblock in the US Senate when retiring senator, Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), blocked a motion to expedite passage of the federal energy legislation. This time Coburn will not be there to stop the process, but that is only one obstacle cleared.

The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act (S. 128) has also been reintroduced by the new Congress in January and is sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

“The federal government depends on a vast array of over 2,000 data centers housing energy-consuming servers,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and one of the House bill co-sponsors.

“These data centers support everyday operations from electronic communications to data storage, consuming an estimated two percent of all electricity in the United States. The Energy Efficient Government Technology Act will deliver savings to the American tax-payers who are footing these energy bills by increasing energy efficiency, reducing overall energy consumption, and eliminating e-waste in these data centers.”

As previously reported by DatacenterDynamics, the 2014 version required the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to formulate a strategy for purchasing, maintenance and use of energy-efficient IT equipment within each federal agency. The OMB would also work with the Department of Energy (DOE) to create performance goals that can measure impact of the efficiency changes.

Data center-specific portions of legislation would require the DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study server and data center efficiency trends. Another portion of the bill requires all data centers operated by the federal government to undergo yearly inspection under the DOE’s Data Center Energy Practitioner Program (DCEP). Finally, the proposal would create an Open Data Initiative for federal agencies to share data center energy usage data and would help create a new metric to measure the energy efficiency of data centers.