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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Data Center marks a significant accomplishment in its ultra-efficiency. | Video courtesy of NREL.

Video courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Technician Mic Stremel works with a blade server in the green data center at the Research Support Facility.
| Image courtesy of NREL, Dennis Schroeder.

Data centers typically operate 24/7, and while crucial to the operations of many organizations, they’re also power hungry and expensive to maintain.
To save money, the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, set the goal to cut its 30-year data center's power use by 80 percent.

NREL's data center is now a model for energy efficiency.
The achievement captured the attention of the White House, and, as announced on November 1, NREL won a GreenGov Presidential Award. The GreenGov Presidential Awards celebrate extraordinary achievement in the pursuit of President Obama’s Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance.
It also earned praise from Secretary Chu: “NREL’s pioneering data center recognized with the GreenGov Presidential Award for Green Innovation is a testament to the Energy Department's leadership in realizing the nation’s clean energy future,” said Secretary Chu. "I applaud the NREL team for leading by example on their commitment to innovation, which is helping to improve energy efficiency, reduce pollution and save taxpayers money.”
NREL’s Green Data Center is designed to help achieve the building’s net-zero energy goals. By employing advanced equipment to minimize energy use, along with educating the laboratory’s employees about ways to save energy, the data center is expected to help NREL as a whole save $200,000 annually in electricity costs and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 5 million pounds per year.
The green innovation theme also carried over to the first annual Energy Department Sustainability Awards held on Nov. 3. During the ceremony, both the Energy Department Golden Field Office and NREL were recognized for efficiency gains.
The Energy Department Golden Field Office earned an award for its own data center improvements: the Information Technology team employed an innovative "virtualization" strategy, consisting of consolidating and moving dozens of physical servers to virtual servers to reduce the hardware required in the data center. The data center now efficiently supports more than 300 virtual desktop computers and 50 virtual servers.  

As a result, the Golden Field Office’s energy consumption was reduced by 61 percent even though the number of users on its network increased by 152 percent from FY 2008. This effort saved about three billion Btu and more than $88,000 in FY 2010 alone while also enhancing IT security and reducing desktop support.
“Today’s Sustainability Award winners are leading by example, showing what’s possible when employees bring creativity, innovation, and dedication to their efforts to make the Department of Energy more sustainable,” said Deputy Secretary Poneman.  “The efforts undertaken by these individuals and teams are helping the Department to deliver on President Obama's sustainability goals, while inspiring others both inside and outside of government to start investing in cost-saving clean energy technologies."