Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

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Industry hopes fed computers go dark on Power IT Down Day

I don’t know about you, but at our house everything goes dark at bedtime. I’m pretty good about turning the lights off, but my wife pulls the plug on everything that can connect to the power grid so that we can save on the last possible cent before it dribbles away into the power company’s coffers.

Power IT Down Day is an attempt by a group of companies to convince the government IT universe to do the same. Despite all the push for green IT, apparently agencies are still pretty wasteful with their power consumption.

There have been mandates for agencies to reduce their energy use, there’s a goal to cut government energy use and emissions by 28 percent by 2020, and the Obama Administration earlier this year launched its GreenGov Challenge. Given that the federal government accounts for around 1.5 percent of the total U.S. annual energy consumption, and is the largest user, just a little savings could add up to a lot of green.

The trouble is getting this message down into the trenches, or in this case down to the regular government employee at his or her desk or workplace. It doesn’t matter what the muckety-mucks in the White House or on the upper floors at agency headquarters dream up: If those employees aren’t convinced to turn their computers, printers or other devices off when they leave at night, then it’s just talk.

Most of the efforts around green IT have so far centered around the data center and other large energy users. But the largest user population, those everyday government grunts, probably have the greatest effect on energy consumption but haven’t been the focus of anything much. Hence, Power IT Down Day.

This is the third of the annual Power IT Down Days, which this year is happening on Aug. 27. The number of participants last year doubled from that of the initial event to 5,600 and achieved a total energy savings of around 73,000 kWh. The Wounded Warrior Project got $45,000 as a result.

This year, the event’s sponsors -- Citrix, Intel, Hewlett Packard and GTSI -- have a goal of getting 6,100 people to participate and, given that Aug. 27 is the first day of a weekend, save a total of 335,000 kWh of energy. That’s around $45,000 in hard dollar savings. And the Wounded Warrior Project gets another donation.

For the goals of the sponsor’s corporate citizenship, the intent is to be positive. Get people to sign up at the Power IT Down website to participate and, broadly, show government what the ROI is on better managing this every day power drain.

Here’s a more devious idea. On Aug. 27, get someone to drive around town with some kind of luminosity meter. I’m sure some bright spark can invent that in time. See which agency comes out as the best saver, and which the worst. The winner gets a shiny gold star it can put onto its Web home page proclaiming it the government energy champion, while the loser has to pay the winner’s energy bill for that weekend.

Who do you think will be the winner and the loser? Leave us a comment.


Posted by Brian Robinson on Jul 30, 2010 at 9:28 PM

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