Data Centers Target Higher Energy Efficiency, Lower Carbon Footprint

by | Sep 3, 2010

Data centers across the nation are implementing a host of initiatives aimed at energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ranging from HVAC optimization to being powered by renewable energy sources.

As an example, Georgia Data Center, an 80,000-square-foot data center located in Atlanta, Georgia, was designed to use 40 to 50 fewer air conditioning units than typical data centers.  The data center worked with WayPoint Systems to integrate an efficient building system and to ensure that the HVAC system operates efficiently to maximize its energy performance.

The Georgia Data Center also features an Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard from QA Graphics. The interactive application is used to showcase the organization’s sustainability efforts including how efficient the building’s performance is and what “green” features are used throughout the building.

To display the real-time building data, QA Graphics worked with WayPoint Systems to integrate the Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard with the data center’s control system, which allows the application to “talk” to the building automation system. This lets staff and visitors see the building’s real-time chilled water system, electric use, and CO2 levels.

It also shows how these initiatives help reduce the building’s operating costs and improve the environment. The data center is seeking gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED for New Construction Rating System.

In the northeast, MetLife’s Troy, N.Y., data center claims carbon neutral status based on its 2009 indirect electricity consumption. The facility achieved carbon neutrality by purchasing a diverse mixture of electricity, comprised mainly of hydro, nuclear and gas.

MetLife also purchased renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset the property’s electricity generation through Native Energy, which was verified by energy consultant MCEnergy. The purchased wind energy through Native Energy has reduced the data center’s greenhouse gas footprint by more than 6.3 million pounds since 2007.

The property offset its electricity use through energy-efficient enhancements and virtualization and server consolidation, which compensated for approximately 14 percent, or 4.1 million kilowatt-hour (KWh), of the facility’s total electricity reduction since 2007.

The Troy office is the company’s primary data center and houses MetLife information technology (IT) operations and systems.

MetLife was named to the Uptime Institute’s Global Green 100 list for its energy-efficiency achievements in the operation of its enterprise IT and data centers in 2009.

In Hunt Valley, Maryland, System Source’s data center is powered by a solar power system that is already exceeding revenue and output estimates by 14 to 17 percent after only three months in service.

Distributed Sun LLC (D-SUN), the project’s developer and services provider, says the installation will deliver approximately 70 megawatt hours (MWh) of electric power per year, and 3 gigawatt hours (GWh) over its lifetime. The system is estimated to reduce millions of pounds of CO2 emissions.

On the west coast, Digital Realty Trust, a wholesale data-center provider, has conducted an energy efficiency audit of its San Francisco and Silicon Valley properties, which indicates that the company’s energy-efficiency initiatives are producing significant cost savings for its customers. The provider estimates its saving customers about $6 million to $10 million in power costs annually.

The analysis of energy efficiency across all of Digital Realty Trust’s Bay Area “Turn-Key Datacenters” showed a PUE of 1.6 at only 53 percent utilization, and an estimated savings of 10,000 kW a year in electricity use.

The data-center facilities surveyed in this audit use a wide range of energy-efficiency technologies and best practices, including hot and cold aisle containment, outside air economization with differential enthalpy control, higher operating temperatures in the data centers, PowerVu monitoring software, and variable frequency drives on fans, pumps and chillers. Some are also LEED Platinum buildings.

Digital Realty Trust says its new energy management tool, PowerVU, will help businesses increase energy efficiency in their data centers and reduce power costs by allowing them to monitor actual power demand and use.

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