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Making Small Data Centers Green
It’s not unusual for most commercial office buildings to have one or even several small data centers, depending on how many tenants call the building home. “They are prolific,” says Bill Kosik, managing principal for EYP Mission Critical Facilities.
When it comes to being green, those little data centers are a big problem. Small data centers waste more energy per square foot than larger facilities, experts say.
Many small data centers don’t use the hot/cold aisle configuration, a standard in larger facilities. That’s the first place to make a change, says Thomas Reed, principal for Kling Stubbins.
At the very least, even without a raised floor, it’s possible to run small ducts over the hot aisle back to the cooling units, says Reed, who says the efficiency of cooling equipment can improve by 20 percent just by reducing the mixing of hot and cold air.
Next, consider variable frequency drives for computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units, which often run at part load, Kosik says. Evaluate set points, which can be too cold. And make sure set points aren’t too close, so compressors and humidifiers don’t cycle too often.
Finally, watch for opportunities when leases expire. Many servers today are built in compliance with ASHRAE’s TC9.9 standard which means they can accept an inlet temperature of 80 degrees F, not 68 degrees. That may allow for free cooling using outside air, says Reed.
If the data center is being reconfigured for new servers, that’s a good time to evaluate metering strategies, because when energy use isn’t measured, it can’t be managed. “It’s certainly best for CIOs to understand how much energy is being used in the data center, whether or not they are paying the bill,” says Kosik.