Implementing Energy Efficiency Measures Could Mean Big Savings for Federal Data Centers

June 13, 2014 By Karen Henry

data-center-power-use-energy-manageLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) concluded that if three federal data centers implemented energy efficiency measures, they could achieve an estimated $700,000 annually in energy cost savings.

The recommended energy efficiency measures were included in a report “Case Study: Opportunities to Improve Energy Efficiency in Three Federal Data Centers,” prepared by Berkeley Lab for the US Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program.

LBNL was tasked with evaluating three data centers for potential energy efficiency improvements during the summer of 2012. The three locations had different geographic locations, facility layouts, spatial configurations, IT power supplies and demands, and mechanical, electrical and cooling system equipment. The data centers also contained a variety of new and old infrastructure support equipment; dynamic, growing IT platforms; and thousands of computing, storage, and data transport servers and devices.

The assessments of the data centers included potential energy savings, potential greenhouse gas emission reductions and average payback periods for completing the recommended projects at each data center.

LBNL’s recommendations included aligning IT rack units and equipment rows into hot and cold aisles. Containing hot aisle air flow will result in substantial reductions in cooling energy expenditures, as well as increased efficiency and lowered costs, the study said.

The most ubiquitous and significant findings involved increasing the data center supply air temperatures and increasing the use of a waterside economizer. Increasing the room temperature reduces the need for cooling provided by computer room air handlers, allowing many to be turned off. In addition, sufficient cooling could be provided with higher temperature-chilled water supply, thus reducing the number of hours of compressor-based cooling.

By implementing these measures, LBNL said that the data centers could achieve energy savings of approximately 11,500 MWh. The measures have an average payback period of about two years.

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