Remediating Environmental and Energy Data Center Concerns with CRAC / CRAH Retrofit

By: Kevin O’Brien, President – Mission Critical Construction Services Division, EEC

We must address the environmental footprint current data center facilities have on climate change due to their immense energy consumption. Extensive industry research indicates that data centers presently consume approximately 3% of the world’s electricity, while emitting nearly 200 million metric tons of CO2.  As data centers continue their proliferation to support the growth of Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, social media and cloud computing, their energy consumption and CO2 will only increase.  One cost-effective and reasonable method to decreasing the negative environmental impact and improving productivity within the data center is optimizing environmental parameters such as Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) and Computer Room Air Handler (CRAH) units.

For the past 13 years, I have been personally involved with the implementation of more than 3,000 CRAC / CRAH units – both new and old.  Many of these older units can only modulate on and off, so they operate at constant volume all day, every day and consume enormous amounts of energy. In this case, newer models may need to be purchased as they possess the capability to modulate fan speeds in order to save energy thanks to built-in Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs).

However, purchasing new CRAC / CRAH may not be in the budget for many data center operators.  If this is the case, operators can still cost-effectively optimize the performance of existing systems by retrofitting CRAC / CRAH units with VFDs.  This can substantially decrease energy consumption and cost as simply lowering a fan’s speed by 20% can cut power requirements in half.  In my experience, I’ve learned that 2008 CRAC / CRAH units are the most cost-effective to upgrade with Emerson VFDs.  Couple this with the 20% to 50% energy savings potential of Direct Expansion (DX) and chilled water units, and you can save even more.  While savings will vary at each facility given specific IT load in the data room and equipment configuration, the ROI potential is worth the initial investment.  Another logical step to take during this time is to install an airflow monitoring system, which enables maximum energy savings thanks to reduced energy consumption and improved Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).

Electronic Environments Corp. (EEC) is here to help you with your CRAC / CRAH unit retrofit and airflow monitoring system projects as well as a wide array of preventative maintenance.  By monitoring the inlet and outlet rack temperatures alongside the return air entering the CRAC unit, EEC can also help you match your underfloor airflow with IT equipment needs.

If you recognize the importance of energy consumption, the search is over.  At EEC, we provide solutions that are economically viable and environmentally effective for your data center utilizing the appropriate technology and services for ensuring a ‘greener’ and more cost-effective future.

To learn more about EEC, visit www.eecnet.com.

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