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Andrew Fanara leaves the EPA Energy Star program

Until recently, Andrew Fanara, ran the EPA's data center Energy Star program. In this interview, he discusses his departure and whether Energy Star has a credibility problem.

Until this year, Andrew Fanara led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's effort to get Energy Star labels for servers and other IT equipment as well as for data center facilities. Last week Fanara began his new job in the private sector working for OSIsoft, a real-time data management company. spoke with Fanara about his tenure at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), why he's moving on, and whether the Energy Star program has credibility issues.

Why did you leave the EPA?
I'd been thinking for the last several years whether there was life for me after the EPA. You get to do a lot of interesting work that is valuable at the EPA. But at the same time there's a big world out there and there's a lot going on. I felt like we had developed or put into place a lot of the things that directionally were important.

But I think the primary thing for me was, as interesting as my job was, you don't get to do everything. You find out about things that are fascinating, and I really wanted to try my hand at working for an organization that helps companies overcome challenges they face.

Do you think the EPA is limited in what it can do to create change?
There is an abstraction in federal government in that there is only so much you can do to help them. You can bring a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. From the standpoint of Energy Star, our programs are voluntary. We can get out and get on our soapbox, we can point our finger and cajole. Sometimes the agency can encourage people to do things, but in the end the people have to do it themselves. A company like OSIsoft does a lot of hands-on work with their customers, so I'm excited to get down into the trenches.

What will you do there?
My major priority will be to help OSIsoft figure out a sustainability strategy that is customer-facing. They have many customers that they are helping save money in energy, in water. They help them store data, trend it and analyze it. Then they find the best practices to better manage facilities and equipment. That's a story they want to tell, and I think it's valuable. It may sound like it's a ways from the data center, but it translates. These data center folks -- we've been telling them to measure, monitor and report. So I decided to put my money where my mouth is and go to a company like OSIsoft.

With the recent audit by the Government Accountability Office (which found vulnerabilities in the Energy Star program such as approving a hypothetical gasoline-powered alarm clock), do you think Energy Star has lost credibility?

I don't think so. I understand the GAO has a job to do, and they cleverly found a backdoor, administrative way to get some products to technically meet the specifications, such as the gasoline-powered alarm clock. If that came across my desk, it would have gotten flagged. But it was an unusual product that, in the end, didn't even exist. No one could purchase it. GAO did a good job of getting imaginary products that no one could purchase approved.

But it did raise an important point. Over time it behooves the Energy Star program to move to a more rigorous certification process. That has been happening, but it's been somewhat glacial. It could be sped up by what the GAO did, so that could be the silver lining to this.

Mark Fontecchio can be reached at

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