Co-location Facilities Can Tout Energy Efficiency Efforts as Cost Savers
Pursuing certification is especially good for co-location facilities, since they can tout their efforts in their marketing materials as measures that control costs, Zatz says.
Jason Yaeger, director of operations of Online Tech, which has an Energy Star facility, says that certification "shows our commitment on making sure that we are energy efficient. There's a huge benefit of cost savings and carbon footprint savings. Our clients depend on us to be energy efficient so we can pass those cost savings on to them."
Yaeger says that Online Tech made a large investment in upgrading the UPS and critical air-handling infrastructure for servers as part of their measures to achieve efficiencies. "We also use cold aisle containment. We do as much as we can to separate hot air that servers produce and inlet cold air that we are giving the servers to cool down," he says.
Justin Jensen, president of Great Lakes Power and Cooling, worked with Online Tech to help the co-location facility get Energy Star certification. Jensen's company used metering for IT floor loads, since Energy Star benchmarking requires separating IT and non-IT loads.
Measures that Online Tech used to become more energy efficient included getting rid of less efficient UPS units, using blanking panels as part of cold-aisle containment, and using hoods on all critical air handlers to raise inlet temperature.
Monitoring Key to Efficiency
The key piece of an energy-efficient program is monitoring, says Yaeger. "If you are not monitoring your IT load and what your critical infrastructure is using — if you have something that is using more electricity than it should — you will not know unless you are monitoring on a daily basis. We first invested money in monitoring."
New data centers have the opportunity to incorporate energy efficiency into the original design, which is what the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, did with its 12,944 square foot primary data center that opened in December 2010. The building has an Energy Star rating of 77, says Jonathan Flannery, executive director of engineering and operations, campus operations. The 54-building campus has been an Energy Star partner for five years and added the new facility to its existing portfolio.
In order to separate the data load for monitoring, a modem on the UPS tracks the energy used by the data center and reports it to the building management system.
Some of the energy-saving features being used in the data center include using outside air to cool the building instead of chilling the air with air handlers. The data center also uses other typical technologies such as hot water controls, which are reduced during the evening, automated lighting controls and occupancy sensors, and a digital power management system.
The program dates back to at least 2000, when "we were able to get funding and could make major impacts to our program." Energy efficiency is important, said Flannery, because "to make a dollar at a hospital, it requires a lot of work."
Every dollar the hospital makes costs 70 cents, according to Flannery. "If I don't have to spend a dollar on utilities, we can save a dollar that can go somewhere else—to patient care, buying a new MRI, education for our university. Every dollar we can save is a dollar that gets invested somewhere else."
Maryellen Lo Bosco is an Asheville, N.C.-based freelance writer who covers the facility market.