REI Data Center Using Free Cooling

REIA rooftop evaporative cooling tower has helped outdoors retailer REI to increase the IT load of its data center while keeping its electricity bill static, reports

The cooler, which allows the retailer to use “free cooling” techniques to keep its servers at the correct temperature, was part of a wider refit of the data center carried out using energy information provided by CLEAResult. REI wanted to decrease energy use without affecting performance. The multi-phase refit also included upgraded battery back up banks, new power distribution units, rewired subfloor cabling and a greater number of distinct hot and cold aisles, the web site reports.

Overall, REI reduced the amount of electricity it uses for its chillers by 93 percent, or about 1.8 GWh a year. That’s enough energy to power six REI stores for a year, the web site reports. While the cost of the project was not disclosed, it paid for itself in its first year of operation.

According to Eaton Corporation’s data center expert John Collins, “free cooling” is one of Google’s five key examples of best practice to boost data center efficiency. Since chillers typically use the most energy in a data center’s cooling infrastructure, you may reap the largest opportunity for savings by minimizing their use. Instead, Google suggests taking advantage of “free cooling” to remove heat from your facility, through methods such as using low temperature ambient air, evaporating water, or a large thermal reservoir. While there are several ways to achieve “free cooling,” a proven and easily accessible solution is a water or air-side economizer, Collins wrote in a column for EMT in April last year.

Google’s four other examples of best practice are to track PUE, turn up the thermostat, manage airflow and to optimize power distribution.

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