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Data centers provide mission-critical computing functions to the daily activities of institutional and commercial facilities. One problem with large and small data centers is that they use large amounts of energy. Maintaining the essential computer systems, servers and associated high-performance components is very costly.
Energy-efficiency improvements in data centers can produce significant savings, and they can reduce the load on the electricity grid. Exploring options for improving an existing facility operation can enable managers in both large and small facilities deliver benefits to their organizations.
Retrocommissioning is one of the most effective ways to prevent energy loss and improve data center efficiency. Retrocommissioning is a systematic, documented process for identifying operational and maintenance improvements to help facilities operate at maximum efficiency. One U.S. Department of Energy study at the Savannah River National Laboratory found a simple payback of 2.5 months from retrocommissioning.
Data centers often do not address changing infrastructure needs when advancements on the information technology (IT) side cause changing conditions, especially when less HVAC or other infrastructure is needed. This was the case for the Savannah River Site, which found a savings of 1.4 million kilowatt-hours (KWh) per year after an initial cost of $25,000.
Retrocommissioning can benefit any existing facility that has never been commissioned or that had been commissioned but either the requirements have changed or the facility is not operating at its peak performance as it should have been on day one. When applied correctly to data centers, the process should reduce energy while bringing facilities up to date with best practices and maximizing uptime.
When systems are running at peak efficiency, maintenance costs also typically are reduced to the lowest possible level. The typical simple payback for retrocommissioning is between 0.2 and 2.5 years, making it one of the most cost-effective strategies available to maintenance and engineering managers.
Strategies and Tactics for Efficient Data Centers