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Covered Product Category: Enterprise Servers

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for enterprise servers, a product category covered by the ENERGY STAR program. Federal laws and requirements mandate that agencies buy ENERGY STAR-qualified products in all product categories covered by this program and any acquisition actions that are not specifically exempted by law.

MEETING EFFICIENCY REQUIREMENTS FOR FEDERAL PURCHASES

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the efficiency criteria for this product category in its ENERGY STAR program requirements. Manufacturers meeting these requirements are allowed to display the ENERGY STAR label on complying models. Visit the ENERGY STAR website for the most up-to-date enterprise server efficiency levels and product specification information, and a list of qualified products.

DEFINING THE PRODUCT CATEGORY

This acquisition guidance and associated ENERGY STAR program requirements apply 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), network equipment, and products covered under other ENERGY STAR product specifications are excluded.

The federal supply sources for enterprise servers are the General Services Administration (GSA) and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). GSA sells servers through its Multiple Awards Schedules program and online shopping network, GSA Advantage! DLA sells them through its online supply network, DOD EMALL.

The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is a worldwide classification system for eCommerce. It contains over 50,000 commodities, including many used in the federal sector, each having a unique eight-digit, four-level identification code. Using the UNSPSCs will assist federal buyers with identifying covered product categories and improve record keeping. The UNSPSC for enterprise (computer) servers is 43211501.

REDUCING ENERGY COSTS: SAVE AN AVERAGE OF $355 BY PURCHASING ENERGY STAR-QUALIFIED ENTERPRISE SERVERS

FEMP has calculated that the ENERGY STAR-qualified product is cost effective if it is priced no more than $355 above the less efficient model. Note that enterprise servers that exceed the ENERGY STAR specification requirements can save even more energy.

The complete cost-effectiveness example and associated assumptions are provided in Table 1.

TABLE 1. LIFETIME SAVINGS FOR AN EFFICIENT ENTERPRISE SERVER
Performancea Required ENERGY STAR Model Less Efficient Model
Annual Energy Use 1,244 kWh/yr 2,308 kWh/yr
Annual Energy Cost $112/yr $208/yr
Lifetime Energy Cost (4 years) $420 $775
Lifetime Energy Cost Savings $355 -
a Based on the following assumptions: Both the ENERGY STAR and less efficient servers are in idle mode all 8,760 hours of the year and consume 142 and 264 watts respectively. Both are managed servers with an assumed product lifetime of four years. The electricity rate is $0.09 per kWh, the average at U.S. federal facilities. Future electricity price trends and a 3% discount rate are Energy Price Indices and Discount Factors for Life-Cycle Cost Analysis - 2013: Annual Supplement to NIST Handbook 135 and NBS Special Publication 709 (NISTIR 85-3273-28).

 

DETERMINING WHEN ENERGY STAR IS COST-EFFECTIVE

An efficient product is cost-effective when the discounted savings (from avoided energy costs over the life of the product) exceed the additional upfront cost (if any) compared to a less-efficient option. EPA considers upfront costs and lifetime energy savings when setting required efficiency levels so federal purchasers can assume that ENERGY STAR-qualified products are life cycle cost-effective.

EXCEPTIONS

For most applications, purchasers will find that energy-efficient products have the lowest life cycle cost. Agencies may claim an exception to these purchasing requirements through a written finding that no ENERGY STAR-qualified product is available to meet functional requirements, or that no ENERGY STAR-qualified product is life cycle cost-effective for the specific application. Additional information on federal requirements is available.

COMPLYING WITH CONTRACTING REQUIREMENTS

These requirements apply to all forms of procurement, including project specifications; renovation, repair, maintenance, and energy service contracts; lease agreements; acquisitions made using purchase cards; and solicitations for offers. Energy efficiency requirements should be included in both the evaluation criteria of solicitations and the evaluations of solicitation responses.

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 23.206 requires federal agencies to insert the clause at FAR section 52.223-15 in solicitations and contracts that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products. FEMP recommends that agencies incorporate efficiency requirements into both the technical specification and evaluation sections of solicitations.

BUYER TIPS: CHOOSING EFFICIENT PRODUCTS

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.

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: USING PRODUCTS MORE EFFICIENTLY

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.

Updated January 2015