Commercial Energy Use

Data centres, processing centres and server farms are a significant source of growing energy consumption and carbon emissions. Server use is usually under 6% of capacity and facility use is rarely at full capacity. However, servers need constant cooling from air conditioners, which is costly and consumes a lot of energy. To illustrate the importance of this market GE acquired Lineage Power Holdings, a producer of high-efficiency power conversion infrastructure technology and services for the telecommunications and data centre industries, in January 2011. Other sources of energy consumption are office technology, which accounts for 15% of office energy consumption, space heating and lighting and so on, as in the residential sector. Office technology is set to double by 2020.

A study by the Economic Intelligence Unit of 278 senior executives from companies all over the world found that on average just over 40% of respondents believe that implemented energy efficiency initiatives saved the company between 6% and 10% of their energy bill. On average around 25% estimate that it has resulted in an 11% to 20% reduction in their energy bill and around 7% estimate more than 20% has been shaved off the bill.

Furthermore McKinsey estimates that energy efficiency technologies with a return on investment of up to 3.6 years could reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings by 18%. It is estimated that around USD 40 to 50 billion worth of investment will be needed.

As electricity prices are projected to continue to rise, more companies are starting to adopt energy efficiency technologies and the return on investment times would be less. For example, around USD 13 million new of energy efficiency upgrades is being installed at the Empire State Building, which is expected to result in more than a 38% reduction in energy consumption, saving USD 4.4 million annually. Thus, the return of investment for energy efficiency is just under three years.

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