Why wait for a new budget when planning infrastructure upgrades?

June 6th 2024

Sustainability initiatives can pay for new upgrades in only a few weeks

Energy savings in the IT network can play a pivotal role in funding infrastructure upgrades, creating a sustainable and financially viable cycle of improvement. It is estimated that ICT is responsible for 2-4% of global carbon emissions* and with increased power demands from technologies such as AI, balancing reduced power consumption with IT network needs can be challenging.

Here we explore areas of cost reduction on energy spend, and potentially use that funding to reinvest in infrastructure for modernisation.

Reduced Operating Costs

Lower Energy Bills: Energy-efficient technologies and practices can significantly reduce the electricity consumption of the network. For example, software controlled infrastructure that can switch off components when usage is low is ideal, using dynamic topology optimisation. Keeping underused interfaces powered down until needed offers enormous optimisation opportunities. 

Example: Consider for every 100 switches that each consumer 500 watts, consolidating to 60 active switches can save around 20,000 watts (20kw). Combined with the lower cooling requirement of 30% (as an example), a 20kw reduction in power would lead to an additional 6kw reduction in power usage. With the average KwH commercial cost of £0.246p this could translate to annual savings of £56,028 – per 100 switches.

Incentives and Rebates

Government and Utility Incentives: Many governments and utility companies offer incentives and rebates for adopting energy-efficient technologies. These can include tax breaks, grants, and direct rebates. Taking advantage of these programs can provide additional funds for infrastructure upgrades. You can find the latest schemes via the link below:


The Energy Bills Discount Scheme just finished in April, however other schemes and initiatives are available, and more likely to follow. 

If you’re investing in new buildings, such as new data centres, the UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard could open up financial incentives, and various local authorities provide grants for certain energy improvements. For smaller organisations, the Carbon Trust’s Green Business Fund can help finance energy assessments and equipment.

Part of the Climate Change Agreement (CCA) means that businesses that meet efficiency targets get a discount on the Climate Change Levy (CCL), a tax on energy delivered to non-domestic users.

Improved Efficiency and Capacity

Higher Server Efficiency: Optimising the topology of the network creates energy and capacity efficiencies through better managing redundant paths and under utilised network devices that are consuming power even when not being used much. 

Example: Even as your network carries exponentially more traffic over time, implementing Software Defined Networking (SDN) you can dynamically configure traffic flow and energy consumption during off-peak, redirecting onto fewer network paths, and deactivating idle devices and links. Switching from a traditional three-tier topology model to a leaf-spine architecture further reduces the number of switches needed overall, and minimises the number of active devices to handle the same amount of traffic. Overall SDN can deliver 30-50% power savings, a combined approach (SDN, plus other initiatives outlined in this blog) can save as much as 90% according to the Green Touch consortium.

Capital Expenditure (CapEx) Justification

Shortened Payback Periods: The energy savings achieved can justify the initial capital expenditure on new, energy-efficient infrastructure. A detailed analysis showing the reduction in operating expenses can help secure budget approvals for upgrades.

Example: A project to assess the current network usage patterns, traffic flows and energy consumption across time periods, using network topology mapping provides detailed insights into how data crosses the network and enables you to identify under utilisation and redundancies on the network.

Enhanced Reliability and Performance

Reduced Downtime and Maintenance Costs: Energy-efficient infrastructure often comes with advanced management features that enhance reliability and reduce downtime. This translates to lower maintenance costs and higher availability, indirectly saving money that can be allocated to further upgrades.

Example: Implementing energy-efficient power management solutions can decrease the frequency of power-related failures. If a data centre reduces its downtime by 50 hours annually, with each hour of downtime costing £10,000, it saves £500,000 per year. These savings can support continuous improvement efforts.

Sustainable Investment Cycle

Reinvesting Savings: By creating a culture of reinvestment, energy savings from the network infrastructure can be used to continuously fund new upgrades. Each cycle of investment leads to further savings, creating a sustainable model for ongoing improvement.

Example: A network IT team saves £300,000 annually from various energy-efficient initiatives, perhaps including dynamic power management that reduces clock speeds of network processors during quiet periods. Instead of treating this as profit, the finance team reinvests it into further network modernisation, perpetuating the cycle of savings and reinvestment.


Energy savings in the network offer a strategic and financially sound way to fund infrastructure upgrades. By reducing operating costs, leveraging incentives, improving efficiency, and justifying capital expenditures through clear financial benefits, IT can create a sustainable model for continuous improvement in sustainability and cost efficiencies. 

Having the data to make informed data-driven decisions is necessary for understanding the scale and efficiency of your energy consumption. 


Innovative technologies are creating ever more efficient infrastructure options. Silicon photonics enables high-speed data transfer using relatively low power consumption, and this technology is expected to be a growing market3. Cisco has demonstrated significant power reduction using Co-Packaged Optics (CPO)4, which will help mitigate the environmental impact of higher bandwidth applications.

Getting your infrastructure into shape is not a one-off activity, it's ongoing. BestPath can help you, every step of your networking journey.





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