The government's energy white paper, which sets out plans to cut carbon emissions, will put pressure on datacentre owners to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities, experts said this week.
The paper, published last month, sets out a mandatory "cap and trade" regime, which requires companies that use more than 3,000 megawatt hours of electricity a year to purchase energy allowances.
"As datacentres use such large amounts of electricity, they will certainly fall within the scheme. The potential to be penalised will give them an incentive to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities," said Charlotte Eddington, power specialist and senior surveyor at datacentre energy adviser CBRE.
"High energy demand will probably make the datacentre sector the largest buyer of credits within the scheme," she added.
Andrew Fanara, development leader of the US EPA Energy Star Programme, which advises on energy efficiency, advised IT directors to adopt best energy management practices now, rather than wait for legislation to come into force.
However, some IT managers believe that using more energy-efficient equipment is risky and could make systems less resilient, said Patrick Fogarty, director at engineering consultancy Norman, Disney and Young.
Forrester Research said that organisations had a broad awareness of green IT and a desire to implement energy-efficient systems, but few have turned this into action in the form of IT procurement or operational changes.
In a survey by the analyst firm last month, 85% of companies said environmental concerns were important in planning IT operations, but only 25% had formalised green criteria into their IT procurement processes.
"We would do green because it makes business sense, not because it is green. It would have to show cost savings," the CTO of one manufacturing firm told Forrester.