The opposing forces of increased demand for data, the corresponding increased energy demand, and the pressure to reduce energy consumption continue to come into conflict.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other entities like the Green Grid and the United States Green Building Council are working with the industry to quantify the current situation and develop solutions. A current DOE presentation ( makes the following statements.

  • Current server racks design ≥25 kilowatts (kW)
  • Loads in data centers range from 1 to 20 megawatts (MW)
  • The annual cost of electricity to run a modern data center equals or exceeds the capital cost of the IT equipment
  • In 2006, data centers consumed 1.5 percent of energy used by the U.S. total consumption. This equated to 61 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) at a cost of $4.5 billion.
  • DOE projects that this use will grow to 100 billion kWh at a cost of $7.4 billion.
  • Projections that this demand would grow at 12 percent per year.
  • Facilities and the grid have constraints

California recently developed its 2010 Green Building Standards Code (CalGreen) to address these concerns. A statement released by the Office of the Governor described the CalGreen Code as “the nation’s first mandatory statewide standards code to green construction and fight climate change.”

This addition to the California’s existing building codes is mandatory and applies to new construction of residential, commercial, and public buildings. It takes effect in January 2011. For a summary see

The basic requirements of CalGreen include:

  • 20 percent mandatory reduction of indoor water use, with voluntary reductions of 30, 35, and 50 percent.
  • Additional water meters separating indoor and outdoor water use, with a requirement for moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects.
  • Mandatory diversion of 50 percent of construction waste away from landfills, increasing voluntarily to 65 and 70 percent for new homes and 80 percent for commercial projects.
  • Mandatory inspections of energy systems (e.g., heat furnaces, air conditioners, mechanical equipment) for non-residential buildings over 10,000 sq ft to ensure that all are working at their maximum efficiencies and manufacturer’s design specifications. This effort will necessarily require that revenue grade power metering be incorporated into the design of building power distribution systems.
  • Mandatory requirements for the use of low pollutant- emitting interior finish materials such as paints, carpet, vinyl flooring, and particleboard.

These are only the highlights. The entire 193-page standard is available at:

Visit for a detailed look at which parts of this regulation are mandatory vs. voluntary at this time.

While this code is intended to apply to new construction, it is now part of California’s existing building code, and therefore most likely will apply to certain existing structures under some circumstances. For instance, most building codes include provisionary requirements mandating that structures be brought up to current code based upon the character and the degree to which the structure is being renovated, modified, or repaired.

I also found a very interesting marketing effort contained within the summary at: . On page two there is a table comparing “points based systems” (LEED?) with the CalGreen law. In short, the value proposition is that CalGreen represents a more independent, transparent effort than private systems and standards because it is government based and that it is more cost effective.

CalGreen is, of course, only a small part of California’s overall effort to attain total oneness with the environment. California state law AB32 requires the California Air Resources board to develop regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 with mandatory caps on emissions beginning in 2012 coupled with this state’s overall goal of producing one third of the state’s power via renewable resources and green technologies (wind, solar, etc.) by 2020. On the surface, this plan is noble endeavor; however, it is only part of the story.

There are also hidden costs and unintended consequences. For example it is estimated that new transmission lines required to connect new renewable, green, zero impact sources (wind, solar, etc.) to the grid would cost $15.7 billion. As with most government projects, the estimate will probably have no relationship to the actual cost when finished. The projected cost does not include the cost of the lawsuits by environmental groups and landowners that are sure to accompany any new transmission line construction regardless of the purpose.

We could spend many hours discussing and debating the efforts being spearheaded by the great state of California in the face of its potential bankruptcy. But make no mistake, love it or hate it, these efforts are underway and gaining momentum. Want to stay ahead of the curve? Keep your eye on California and CalGreen. Similar mandates and regulations may well be coming to a state near you soon.