Stanford Environmental Consulting

Energy Efficiency in Data Centers


Case Study: Energy Efficiency in Data Centers
Client: Natural Resources Defense Council

Broader Challenge

  • Servers account for 1.5% of total U.S. electricity consumption and $4.5 billion in electricity costs each year.
  • Server virtualization offers a significant opportunity to reduce server energy use
  • NRDC asked SEC to design a survey that will identify the barriers to implementation of server virtualization.


  • SEC worked with NRDC to design and write a survey that would help us obtain specific information about server use and data centers in small and medium businesses.
  • Through personal contacts, networking, and visiting career fairs, SEC built a contact list of employees of small and medium businesses and distributed the survey to those employees.  
  • After gathering responses, SEC analyzed the survey results and graphed our findings. 
  • At the end of the project, we did a PowerPoint presentation for NRDC and submitted a report.


  • Security and compatibility are the main concerns surrounding server virtualization.
  • Cost was an argument both for an against virtualization (i.e., virtualization was cost-beneficial for some and not for others.)
  • Most companies surveyed had not virtualized at all.
  • 85% of businesses had not tried to measure the energy use in their data centers.