The Energy Efficiency Revolution

Today’s research provides consensus that enterprise level efficiency measures are extremely cost effective and highly impact conservation efforts.  Historically, government initiatives have not actively promoted sustainability or constituted it as a smart bottom line for business.  However, visionary leaders, such as Vivek Kundra, the first United States Federal Chief Information Officer, have allowed city, county and federal government the ability to find new budget efficiencies.   Mr.  Kundra has been willing to utilize sustainability and advances in technology to obtain operational advantages.  In addition, he has used those advantages as an opportunity to increased efficiency instead of treating sustainability as an added investment.  Utilizing sustainability to increase energy efficiency was not the case even a few years ago. 

The history of how this trend in government is building momentum has some interesting points and critical components.The greater movement towards sustainability appears to have origins in the United States around the early 1990s when the United States Environmental Protection Agency developed the “ENERGY  STAR” program. The program helped generate interest in energy efficiency.  The EPA’s success with the ENERGY STAR program has lead to other countries, such as Australia, Canada, and the European Union, to implement similar programs.  In order to build momentum in the US in the early 1990s, the Energy Star philosophy of efficiency still needed to blend together with sustainability and a Total Quality Management (business) practice or philosophy.

The   term “Energy Efficiency” generally falls under the broader term “Sustainability.” Ambiguity surrounds the term sustainability and consequently efficiency measures were slow to develop in the US unlike Europe — where sustainability was championed as a priority in the 1970’s. Demands for profit, collaboration and other business drivers were taking precedent within the US. Within the last several years, US organizations finally began to understand the cost benefits of efficiency, thus blending sustainability programs with Total Quality Management (TQM).

Today, this blend of sustainability and management efficiency is apparent in all levels of our government.  The Federal Government is implementing Data Center Consolidation to save three billion dollars. The state government of Minnesota has mandated a goal of 20% energy reduction through the direction of the Division of Energy Resources. 

These measures can have a powerful effect on the expense to all of us while making our governments better stewards of the environment.  There is a lot of room for efficiency improvements in IT as well as all other areas of government from PC Power Management to data center cooling improvements and virtualization.  The momentum is building in government and hopefully has just scratched the surface.  

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