Purchasing Energy-Efficient Data Center Storage

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One watt-hour of energy savings at the storage level results in roughly 1.9 watt-hours of facility-level energy savings. These additional savings stem from reducing energy waste in the power infrastructure (e.g., power distribution unit, uninterruptible power supply) and reducing 24/7 energy needed to cool the waste heat produced by data storage.

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for data center storage, a product category covered by ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements. Federal laws and requirements mandate that agencies purchase ENERGY STAR-qualified products or FEMP-designated products in all product categories covered by these programs and in any acquisition actions that are not specifically exempted by law.

FEMP's acquisition guidance and associated ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements for data center storage are technology neutral, meaning that one technology is not favored over another. However, ENERGY STAR's requirements are limited to products that satisfy definition of qualifying products in the ENERGY STAR data center storage specifications.

All other data storage center types are excluded, including but not limited to personal/portable data storage products; computer servers; blade storage products; direct attached storage products; network attached storage products that cannot perform block I/O; storage products capable of object based storage; storage devices in the following categories of the taxonomy: near-online, removable media library, virtual media library, adjunct storage products, and interconnect elements; and products that are covered under other ENERGY STAR product specifications.

This acquisition guidance was updated in January 2017.

Find Product Efficiency Requirements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides data center storage efficiency levels and product specification information on its ENERGY STAR website. Manufacturers meeting these requirements are allowed to display the ENERGY STAR label on complying models. Get a list of ENERGY STAR certified data center storage.

Make a Cost-Effective Purchase: Save Up to $117 by Buying Energy Star

FEMP has calculated that the required ENERGY STAR-qualified data center storage saves money if priced no more than $91 above the less efficient model. The best available model saves up to $117. Table 1 compares three types of product purchases and calculates the lifetime cost savings of purchasing efficient models. Federal purchasers can assume products that meet ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements are life cycle cost-effective.

Table 1. Lifetime Savings for Efficient Data Center Storage Models
PerformanceBest AvailableENERGY STARLess Efficient
Annual Energy Use (kWh)302378648
Annual Energy Cost$27$34$58
Lifetime Energy Cost$102$127$219
Lifetime Cost Savings$117$91======
View the Performance and Model Assumptions for Table 1
Performance Column

Annual Energy Use: Based on ENERGY STAR-reported values and values from Plug Load Solutions' website, 80 PLUS Certified Power Supplies and Manufacturers; EMC Corporation's 2008 white paper, Assessing and Improving Data Center Storage-Related Energy Efficiency: Technology Concepts and Business Considerations; ASHRAE's 2015 white paper, Data Center Storage Equipment - Thermal Guidelines, Issues, and Best Practices; IEEE's 2011 article, Assessing Data Deduplication Trade-Offs from an Energy and Performance Perspective; and NYSERDA's 2015 report, New York State Data Center Market Characterization-listed in kilowatt-hours.

Annual Energy Cost: Calculated based on an assumed electricity price of $0.09/kWh, which is the average electricity price at federal facilities throughout the United States. Learn more about Federal Government Energy/Water Use and Emissions.

Lifetime Energy Cost: Calculated as the sum of the discounted value of the annual energy cost over the assumed product life of 4 years—from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's June 2016 report, United States Data Center Energy Usage (LBNL-1005775) and Bio by Deloitte and Fraunhofer IZM's July 2015 report, Preparatory Study for Implementing Measures of the Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC DG ENTR Lot 9 - Enterprise Servers and Data Equipment - Task 3: User. Future electricity price trends and a 3% discount rate are from Energy Price Indices and Discount Factors for Life-Cycle Cost Analysis - 2016: Annual Supplement to NIST Handbook 135 and NBS Special Publication 709 (NISTIR 85-3273-31).

Lifetime Cost Savings: The difference between the lifetime energy cost of the less efficient model and the lifetime energy cost of the ENERGY STAR model or best available model.

Best Available Model Column

Calculated based on the December 2016 ENERGY STAR-Qualified Products List with all available capacity optimized methods (COM): data deduplication, delta snapshots, thin provisioning, and compression. More efficient models may be introduced to the market after FEMP's acquisition guidance is posted.

Energy Star Model Column

Calculated based on December 2016 ENERGY STAR efficiency levels. Federal agencies must purchase products that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR efficiency levels.

Less Efficient Model Column

Calculated based on typical products used in non-federal applications.

Determine When ENERGY STAR Products Are Cost-Effective

An efficient product is cost-effective when the lifetime energy savings (from avoided energy costs over the life of the product, discounted to present value) exceed the additional up-front cost (if any) compared to a less efficient option. ENERGY STAR considers up-front costs and lifetime energy savings when setting required efficiency levels. Federal purchasers can assume ENERGY STAR-qualified products and products that meet FEMP-designated efficiency requirements are life cycle cost-effective. In high-use applications or when energy rates are above the federal average, purchasers may save more if they specify products that exceed federal efficiency requirements (e.g., the best available model).

Claim an Exception to Federal Purchasing Requirements

Products meeting ENERGY STAR or FEMP-designated efficiency requirements may not be life cycle cost-effective in certain low-use applications or in locations with very low rates for electricity or natural gas. However, for most applications, purchasers will find that energy-efficient products have the lowest life cycle cost.

Agencies may claim an exception to federal purchasing requirements through a written finding that no FEMP-designated or ENERGY STAR-qualified product is available to meet functional requirements, or that no such product is life cycle cost-effective for the specific application. Learn more about federal product purchasing requirements.

Incorporate Federal Acquisition Regulation Language in Contracts

These mandatory requirements apply to all forms of procurement, including construction guide and project specifications; renovation, repair, energy service, and operation and maintenance (O&M) contracts; lease agreements; acquisitions made using purchase cards; and solicitations for offers. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 23.206 requires agencies to insert the clause at FAR section 52.223-15 into contracts and solicitations that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products for use in federal government facilities. To comply with FAR requirements, FEMP recommends that agencies incorporate efficiency requirements into technical specifications, the evaluation criteria of solicitations, and the evaluations of solicitation responses.

Find Federal Supply Sources

The federal supply sources for energy-efficient products are the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). GSA sells products through its Multiple Awards Schedules program and online shopping network, GSA Advantage!. DLA offers products through the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia and online through DOD EMALL. Products sold through DLA are codified with a 13-digit National Stock Number (NSN) and, in some cases, a two-letter Environmental Attribute Code (ENAC). The ENAC identifies items that have positive environmental characteristics and meet standards set by an approved third party, such as FEMP and ENERGY STAR.

The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is a worldwide classification system for e-commerce. It contains more than 50,000 commodities, including many used in the federal sector, each with a unique eight-digit, four-level identification code. Manufacturers and vendors are beginning to adopt the UNSPSC classification convention and electronic procurement systems are beginning to include UNSPSC tracking in their software packages. UNSPSCs can help the federal acquisition community identify product categories covered by sustainable acquisition requirements, track purchases of products within those categories, and report on progress toward meeting sustainable acquisition goals. FEMP has developed a table of ENERGY STAR and FEMP-designated covered product categories and related UNSPSC numbers.

Data Center Storage Schedules and Product Codes

GSA offers data center storage through Schedule 70 (General Purpose Commercial Information Technology Equipment, Software, and Services).

As of December 2016, DLA does not offer an ENAC for data center storage products.

The UNSPSC for hard disk drives is 43201803, tape drives is 43201807, and solid state drives is 43201830.

Buyer Tips: Make Informed Product Purchases

Agencies should consult the Center of Expertise for Energy Efficiency in Data Centers website for information on energy-efficient design strategies and opportunities in data centers. DOE has partnered with key public and private stakeholders to provide technical information, tools, best practices, and analysis that assist government agencies with decreasing energy use in data centers. Purchasing efficient products for use in data centers can be an important component to meeting data center energy reduction goals.

Consider the following factors when purchasing data center storage.

Storage Product Selection

The current ENERGY STAR data center storage specification (Version 1.0) includes Online 2, 3, and 4 storage products (among other storage product types such as near-online storage and removable media library). Buyers should investigate their individual storage needs before selecting the storage product types that maximize performance and energy cost savings for the specific applications.

Solid State Drives

Solid state drives (SSDs) feature faster read and access speeds, but are more expensive than conventional hard disks. If SSDs are too costly for the application, buyers should consider purchasing systems that use only the smaller 2.5-inch form factor hard disk drives, which provide the same performance as the traditional 3.5-inch form factor drives but consume less energy.

Capacity Optimizing Methods

Capacity optimizing methods (COMs) are technologies used to improve data storage by shrinking stored data, thereby reducing energy consumption. COMs may include thin provisioning, data deduplication, compression, and delta snapshots, as defined in the ENERGY STAR data center storage specification. Buyers can consult with product vendors or IT professionals for the type(s) of COMs suited for the application and workload.

Some utilities offer rebates or other incentives for the purchase of ENERGY STAR-qualified products. Use the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder to see if your local utility offers these incentives.

User Tips: Use Products More Efficiently

Buyers can track the power used by data center storage products and implement power-saving technologies to optimize equipment efficiency.

Power Data Measurements

Per the current ENERGY STAR data center storage specification (Version 1.0), Online 3 and 4 storage products are required to measure and report input power in watts through the full range of operation. Data are available to users in formats readable by third-party, non-proprietary management systems, over a standard network connection, and via embedded components or add-in devices that are packaged with the storage product. Users can make use of collected data to facilitate equipment selection and optimize operation strategies.

Massive Array of Idle Disks

Many hard disks run on a continuous basis—this not only wears out the mechanical parts, but also consumes energy as long as the disks are running. For data that are accessed very infrequently and do not demand a fast response time, Massive Array of Idle Disks (MAID) is an alternative in which only those disk drives in active use are spinning at any given time, and hard disks not accessed for a longer period are switched off. If used properly, the MAID technology reduces power consumption and prolongs disk lifespan.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provided supporting analysis for this acquisition guidance.