Sabey Data Centers Use ‘Hot Aisle Containment’ to Achieve Top Energy Savings


Seattle-based Sabey Data Centers achieved the highest level of energy savings in 2016, according to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2017 Better Buildings Progress Report.

Sabey’s energy savings beat all other data center companies enrolled in the Better Buildings Challenge program, a DOE initiative launched in 2011 to improve energy efficiency in commercial, industrial and multifamily buildings.

An example of Sabey’s energy-saving measures can be seen in its 480,000-square foot Quincy, Washington, data center. The center uses The Munters Oasis Indirect Evaporative Cooling, which takes advantage of evaporation to reject heat without ever adding any moisture to the data center.

From Sabey’s website:

By using hot aisle containment, the hot air leaving the servers is kept separate from the cool air being supplied to the servers, which allows the use of warmer supply air temperatures. This also results in hotter return air temperatures, which is an excellent situation for implementing an indirect evaporative cooling solution. With Munters Oasis™ Indirect Evaporative Coolers (IEC), the air from the data center is cooled using Munters patented Oasis™ polymer heat exchanger, often without the need for supplemental mechanical cooling or water.

On cold and cool days the Oasis polymer heat exchanger operates dry and simply acts as an air-to-air heat exchanger. Outside air (commonly referred to as scavenger air) indirectly cools the data center air through normal heat exchange, without the use of any water.

Once the ambient temperature rises to a certain point, the Oasis heat exchanger will not be able to provide enough cooling while operating in this dry mode. When this happens, water is pumped from sumps that are internal to the air handlers to spray nozzles that wet the outside surface of the Oasis™ heat exchanger tubes, coating them with a thin layer of water. During the few hours a year when the outside temperatures are too high and moist for the evaporative cooling alone, a small mechanical cooling system (“trim DX”) supplements the evaporative cooling process, so that the air supplied to the data center is maintained at the right temperature. This condition, where refrigeration is required to supplement the IEC, only occurs during ambient conditions with simultaneous high heat and humidity.

In 2014, Sabey Data Centers partnered with McKinstry, a construction and design company that advocates sustainable solutions, to develop the Mobile Commissioning Assistant for data center owners. With the device, owners can simulate actual operating conditions prior to installing servers in new data centers. Owners can expect a full payback in the purchasing cost of the device through the amount of energy savings after four uses

Data centers as a whole are becoming increasingly more efficient. A recent survey by Secure I.T. Environments Ltd. found that close to 47% of companies surveyed were confident that their data center energy efficiency had improved. And in April, tech giants Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft announced their plans to continue their clean energy initiatives despite President Trump’s executive action regarding the Clean Power Plan.

Further, a new bill introduced by U.S. representative Anna Eschoo (D-CA) and passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in January proposes a set of data center energy efficiency standards that could save as much as $5 billion in energy costs by 2020.

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