Brad Brech

Distinguished engineer, software systems, IBM Rochester
Brad Brech

• Building systems for more energy-efficient data centers 

IBM’s Rochester campus has been in the news for its work on Mira, purported to be the world’s most powerful computer. Under Brech’s direction, IBM Rochester also has been developing projects that, while mostly under the radar, could have a more significant social impact.

Brech works in a practice called the Systems and Technology Group. “We look . . . for new solutions that we can bring to problems that we find, new opportunities we can develop into business for IBM or into licensable ideas,” he says.

As part of that practice, Brech began working five years ago to develop technologies to make data centers—whose design and construction is a major part of IBM’s business—more energy efficient. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has projected that by 2012, the annual cost of power for the typical data center is expected to exceed the cost of the original capital investment.

“We’ve updated many of our products . . . from components all the way to the work that we did with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on helping them come up with the Energy Star rating system,” Brech says. IBM has developed software that measures and regulates energy usage throughout the data center. The result, according to the company: Customers have reported using between 10 and 50 percent less energy to run the same workloads.

“Green IT has become a significant piece of business for IBM,” says Brech, who is now working on helping develop more energy-efficient (or “smart”) buildings. “About 56 percent of all the energy used in the U.S. is used in buildings, and 50 percent of energy used in buildings is wasted,” Brech says. “Having a way to reclaim that would reduce 25 percent of our energy budget in the United States.”