Related Covered Product Categories
The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for enterprise servers, 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 enterprise servers are technology neutral, meaning that one technology is not favored over another. However, ENERGY STAR's product specification requirements are limited to blade, multi-node, rack-mounted, and pedestal form factor enterprise servers with no more than four processor sockets. Fully fault tolerant servers, server appliances, high performance computing systems, large servers, storage products (including blade storage), large network equipment, and products covered under other ENERGY STAR product specifications are excluded.
This acquisition guidance was updated in December 2022.
Find Product Efficiency Requirements
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides enterprise server 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 enterprise servers.
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). Contact ENERGY STAR for more information about calculating the life-cycle cost-effectiveness of their products.
Did you know?
An Uptime Institute survey suggests that close to 30% of servers are unused in data centers, providing no business value. Each one costs more than $4,000 per year in energy, space, and maintenance costs. To save energy and important business resources, create and regularly update a server hardware and application inventory to track the number of applications running on each server, and identify unused servers or servers with low utilization. These servers can then be consolidated, with some servers eventually turned off or reassigned.
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.
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.
FAR Contract Language
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.
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.
Federal Supply Sources and Product Codes
The federal supply sources for energy-efficient products are the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide programs that help federal agencies buy products with positive environmental attributes.
Identification codes for product categories covered by sustainable acquisition requirements are provided by DLA and the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC).
Under the Multiple Award Schedule program, GSA issues long-term governmentwide contracts that provide access to commercial products, services, and solutions at pre-negotiated pricing.
DLA offers products through the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia and online through FedMall (formerly DOD EMALL).
- Visit FedMall.
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.
USDA BioPreferred Program
USDA's BioPreferred Program was created to increase the purchase and use of biobased products. Federal law, the FAR, and Presidential Executive Orders direct that all federal agencies and their contractors purchase biobased products in categories identified by USDA.
EPA and Other Industry Resources
EPA offers several resources for choosing which products to buy. The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program helps federal government purchasers utilize private sector standards and ecolabels to identify and procure environmentally preferable products and services.
- Learn more about the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program.
- Review federal purchasing specifications, standards, and ecolabels.
- Get an overview of the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) and procuring environmentally preferable electronic products.
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.
- Review FEMP's table of product codes for ENERGY STAR and FEMP-designated covered product categories.
Enterprise Server Schedules and Product Codes
GSA offers enterprise servers through Multiple Awards Schedule IT Hardware 33411.
The UNSPSC for enterprise servers is 43211501.
Buyer Tips: Make Informed Product Purchases
Server energy efficiency improves significantly from generation to generation. The latest servers deliver much higher performance per watt than 3- to 4-year-old servers. Establish server refresh policies that take into account increases in generation-on-generation energy efficiency and power manageability improvements. Refreshing servers is also a good opportunity to consider consolidation, as new servers usually have much more capacity than the servers they replace. The savings in energy and software costs can sometimes justify a faster refresh than expected.
Purchasing high-temperature-tolerant servers can also save energy by reducing cooling needs.
ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder
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.
Enterprise servers are generally used in data closets or data centers. Agencies should consult the Center of Expertise for Energy Efficiency in Data Centers website for information on energy-efficient design strategies and opportunities. DOE has partnered with key public and private stakeholders to provide technical information, tools, best practices, and analysis that assist government agencies with reducing 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.
For ENERGY STAR-qualified servers, manufacturers are encouraged to provide a hyperlink to a detailed power calculator on their websites. Purchasers can use the power calculator to understand power and performance data for a specific server model or model family. Full power load and idle power draw for these server models can also be found on Energy Star's Qualified Products list.
User Tips: Use Products More Efficiently
When used and handled properly, energy-efficient enterprise servers provide years of safe and effective service. Federal users should be aware of the following user tips.
Servers that comply with the ENERGY STAR program requirements offer processor power management that is enabled by default in the BIOS and/or through a management controller, service processor, and/or the operating system shipped with the enterprise server. Whenever possible, the default power management setting should remain in place, which helps reduce power consumption at times of low utilization. The "available power saving features" versus "enabled power features" when the products are shipped are listed in Energy Star's Qualified Products list.
ENERGY STAR-qualified servers collect data on input power, processor utilization, and inlet air temperature, and users can access these data via one of the following methods: 1) for products with a pre-installed OS, the OS includes all necessary drivers and software for data access; 2) for products without a pre-installed OS, documentation on how to access data is provided on the manufacturer's website, or via electronic or printed documentation shipped with the enterprise server. The collected data can inform users how to optimize operation of servers by observing the correlation between processor utilization and input power. Inlet air temperature data can inform the operation set point of cooling equipment in order to achieve higher energy efficiency in the server space.
Optimize Server Utilization and Turn Off Unused Servers
An Uptime Institute survey suggests that close to 30% of servers are unused in data centers, with each one costing more than $4,000 per year in energy, space, and maintenance costs, without adding business value. To save energy and important business resources, create and regularly update a server hardware and application inventory to track the number of applications running on each server, and identify unused servers or servers with low utilization. These servers can then be consolidated, with some servers eventually turned off or reassigned.
Consolidate and Virtualize Applications
Consolidating multiple applications on a smaller number of servers accomplishes the same amount of computational work, but lower energy consumption per application. Virtualization is a proven method for consolidating applications, allowing multiple applications to run in their own environments on shared servers. Increasing server utilization reduces both the number of servers required to run a given number of applications and overall server energy use.
Examine Power Backup Requirements
Redundant equipment in the power delivery chain increases capital cost and consumes additional energy, as power conversions create heat that must then be removed. Not all information technology equipment needs backup power. For example, some applications fail-over to other IT equipment, so dual individual power supplies may not be required. Backup requirements should be determined on a case-by-case basis to avoid costly redundant equipment that consumes additional energy.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provided supporting analysis for this acquisition guidance.