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Data Center Sustainability Summit 2022 Recap: IT Modernization and Green Tech

Data Center Sustainability Summit 2022 Recap: IT Modernization and Green Tech

| Office of Government-wide Policy, Information Integrity and Access
Post filed in: data center optimization

On April 6 and 7, GSA, the CIO Council, and the Information Technology Industry Council co-hosted a virtual, two-day summit focused on highlighting and celebrating the energy, environment, and infrastructure benefits that result from a transition from government-owned data centers to commercially-owned facilities, cloud computing, or software-as-a-service. Speakers explored ways in which the federal government could reach its sustainability goals established under President Biden’s 2021 Executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability. A series of videos of the discussions held during the summit are available.

GSA’s Office of Government-wide Policy Associate Administrator Krystal Brumfield remotely welcomed more than 500 attendees and reaffirmed GSA’s commitment to optimizing and consolidating thousands of federally owned data centers, ranging from small server closets to large stand-alone facilities.

Brumfield joined federal leaders and experts across government, industry and academia, all of whom addressed various facets of sustainability and energy, as they relate to data centers, cloud and continuous IT modernization.

In the two years since GSA hosted the Cloud and Infrastructure Summit, “federal agencies have made much progress with consolidating data centers, moving to the cloud, leveraging commercial services, or otherwise modernizing their IT infrastructure,” said Brumfield. “By making some purposeful changes – as well as some hard decisions – about the data centers that we own and operate as federal agencies, we can help the government take a big leap forward in its transition to clean, zero-emission, and renewable technologies,” she added.

GSA’s chief sustainability officer and director of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings Kevin Kampschroer also spoke at the event in an opening keynote, noting “data centers in the U.S. consume more electricity than the entire US federal government.  Aligning standards, sharing facilities, improving data center building operations, and increasing sophistication in measuring performance are all leading the government to moving to sustainable environments.” Reflecting on the summit, “I am impressed with the quality, breadth and depth of the presentations, and more importantly, the engagement and knowledge of the people imparting their hard won wisdom,” he said. 

Federal leaders, industry experts and academics participated in various panel discussions on covering specific areas of IT sustainability, such as:

  • IT’s Role in Achieving Net Zero Emissions by 2050
  • Securing Climate-Resilient National Infrastructure
  • Data Center Sustainability Strategies and Initiatives
  • “Greening” Federal IT Infrastructure Contracts & Purchasing
  • The Green Grid: Future Data Center Metrics

The summit also hosted tech talks, round tables and case study conversations to further dive into how the adoption of such modern IT infrastructure solutions is critical to the country’s transition to clean, zero-emissions technologies, as well as explore these solutions’ additional economic and national security benefits.

Additional highlights include:

  • Jim Connaughton, CEO of Nautilus Data Technologies and former Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, shared that we can use the federal dollar, the consumer dollar, the taxpayer dollar, to drive the greenest, most powerful, most important infrastructure the world requires today, all the while moving to net-zero carbon emissions. 
  • Sylvia Burns, CIO of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, noted that by moving to the commercial data centers and cloud, these vendors can diversify and create sustainable environments at scale, not to mention all the other benefits. 
  • Pete Tseronis, founder and CEO of Dots and Bridges and former CTO of the Department of Energy, added that we have our mandates from EO M-22-09EO 14057, EO 14028 and the federal government needs to reimagine prioritizing funding; and 
  • Suzette Kent, CEO of Kent Advisory Services and former Federal CIO, also added that agencies need to reevaluate those applications/programs that are not delivering value to the mission. 

GSA is working to develop the ideas and thoughts shared during this summit to reenvision how we measure IT modernization, data centers, and cloud usage. We believe if we partner with industry, we can quantify IT’s role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.