Uptime: Light Adoption of Energy Czars

A year after The Uptime Institute called for companies to appoint "energy czars," few companies have adopted the recommendation.

At last year's Uptime Symposium, a key emphasis was the appointment of "energy czars" inside corporations to work across organizational silos and provide a holistic approach to energy management. A year later, few companies have adopted the recommendation, and in most of those scenarios the energy czar duties are an add-on to an existing position.

At last week's Uptime Symposium 2009in New York, Uptime's John Stanley presented data from a progress report on the 2008 recommendations. The follow-up found that just 14 companies had created energy czar positions, including just five of the 59 end-users surveyed.

The good news? Of the 14 energy czars, none were public relations staffers. But all of the end users that created energy czar posts structured them as an expansion of existing job duties, usually assigned to an executive in the facilities department. "Uptime was hoping the energy czars would be someone who reports higher in the organization," said Stanley, adding that there were very mixed levels of staff support.

The recommendation to implement energy czar positions emerged from a joint study by Uptime and McKinsey & Company published at the 2008, which predicted that if current trends continue unchecked, data center greenhouse gas emissions will quadruple. The report warned that meaningful improvement of enterprise energy efficiency would require "an immediate overhaul of corporate management practices," including the establishment of energy czar positions in major corporations.

“Industry is starting to understand the path forward," said Stanley. "We realize that we need to do. We just haven't been able to do it."

Uptime founder Ken Brill said companies need to incorporate energy and data center costs into their calculations of the cost of their IT operations and equipment. "We need a new set of management skills that combine many variables on TCO (total cost of ownership)," Brill said. "We're back to the day 30 years ago when TCO was a big part of IT (due to the high cost of mainframes). We have to take an attitude of 'we can' rather than 'it's just too difficult'."

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