IBM Offers Energy Savings Certificates

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IBM is launching a program to perform energy audits on customer data centers, with savings recognized in Energy Efficiency Certificates (EECs). In addition to documenting the before-and-after measurements and energy savings, the credits can be traded for cash in a burgeoning market for energy certificate trading.

IBM will partner with Neuwing Energy Ventures, which will conduct the audits and help companies sell their EECs. IBM said the program provides a way for customer to benchmark data center efficiency and document their energy savings, and is the “first corporate-led initiative” to award energy efficiency certificates.

IBM said it will work with customers to plan energy efficiency projects using IBM’s data center evaluation tools, which will recommend strategies including virtualization and server consolidation, and addressing data center design flaws to reduce unnecessary power consumption.

Neuwing Energy will then gather information about the customer’s energy usage before and after the project. Reductions in power usage will be measured using IBM’s Power Executive for server consolidation projects, with utility bills providing comparisons for design improvements and other equipment. Neuwing Energy will issue customers an IBM Energy Efficiency Certificate for the total reduction in megawatt-hours of energy. In return for the assessment, Neuwing will keep a portion of each customer’s earned certificates or charge a fee based on megawatt hours saved.

While the certificates will be most useful for benchmarking and documentation of energy savings, they can also be traded. In addition to collecting data and issuing certificates, Neuwing can also monetize a data center operator’s EECs by selling them in private markets for energy certificates, much like carbon credits are bought and sold. EEC trading is a newer concept, and any gains from the sale of certificates would be far exceeded by savings in corporate power bills. But the ability to sell certificates could further extend ROI on energy efficiency projects.

“Since the recent emergence of energy efficiency certificates as a market, we have seen market volume quickly grow into the millions of megawatt-hours and expect the energy efficiency market to surpass the renewable energy certificates market in a couple of years,” said Matthew Rosenblum, CFO of Neuwing Energy. “Large or small, any company can take steps to reduce their climate impact by improving energy efficiency. These certificates further reward those companies that make a difference. We’re proud to collaborate with IBM to launch this first-of-a-kind initiative that reinforces both companies’ commitment to helping clients reduce the impact of data centers on the environment.”

IBM intends to make the Efficiency Certificates program available across its entire line of systems and storage offerings, beginning with its mainframe System z and System p in 2007. IBM Efficiency Certificates will first be available in the United States, and expand to Europe in 2008.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.