Top 6 Ways to Improve Data Center Efficiency

By: Daniel Bodenski, PE, LEED AP, Director of Strategic Solutions at Electronic Environments Co.

The data center has become a staple of modern society, making the technology that we use every day possible.  Today, everyone from small start-up organizations to multi-billion dollar corporations utilize mission-critical facilities to house their vital data, and as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data continue to proliferate, our demand for more data centers will only increase.

With growing energy costs and data center energy consumption nearly 100 times higher than that of a typical commercial building, data center owners and operators are placing a higher focus on improving energy efficiency within their facilities.  Maintaining energy efficiency is critical to running a reliable, high-capacity, and cost-efficient mission-critical facility.  At Electronic Environments Co. (EEC), we are dedicated to enabling our clients to develop the most efficient and profitable data centers possible, allowing for maximum uptime while minimizing capital and operational costs.

When it comes to data center energy efficiency, there are six key ways you can improve your bottom line while still ensuring total reliability.  Below, we will examine these key strategies and help you answer the question, “How can my data center be more energy efficient?”

  1. Assessments

Performing a detailed assessment of your data center’s operational performance will give you clear and concrete insight into the particular ways your data center can be improved, outlining the individual areas in which current energy efficiency practices may fall short.  Review of airflow management, implementing a detailed PUE analysis, and obtaining real-time data hall temperature measurements, are all important metrics to assess in order to develop a fully strategic plan to lower energy costs. Data center assessment professionals are equipped to provide comprehensive results through in-depth analysis and can provide recommendations for design, installation and maintenance improvements resulting in quick and cost-effective solutions. An assessment can also be used to prepare for external audits, and provide foundational data for developing thorough strategies.

  1. Equipment Upgrades

As society evolves, so too do our technologies, putting increased demand on data center capabilities. Equipment upgrades are necessary to maintain a robust and reliable facility. Moreover, in order to make data centers increasingly efficient, new technologies are continually developed that reduce overall energy consumption, such as ECO mode Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), 380V DC power systems, lighting system retrofits, efficient chillers, and more. By knowing what new technologies exist and understanding the return on investment of many of these upgrades, you may be able to use many to your advantage within your data center’s lifecycle.

  1. Maintenance

If your current equipment is unreliable or beyond its normal lifespan, it could be adding to your operating costs and could pose a serious threat to reliability.  Downtime is the number one critical issue, as it will not only hurt your bottom line, but your reputation as a reliable organization. The Ponemon Institute reports that data center downtime costs an average of $7,900 per minute. Can you afford that? By employing a comprehensive maintenance routine, trained specialists should be engaged to check generator heaters and batteries, test load banks, sample generator coolant, fuel and oil, and regularly exercise overcurrent protective devices. These activities, coupled with implementation of an on-demand Asset Management system, will increase operational efficiency and reduce overall critical system downtime.

  1. Dynamic Cooling Management

Every data center is unique, so its cooling solutions should be as well.  Cooling plays a critical role in the energy efficiency of a data center. Finding the correct model for your individual facility is of capital importance. With a dynamic cooling model that’s easy to deploy, you can see immediate energy savings, more efficient network transformation, and increased network reliability. Instead of zone-level control, fans are individually optimized based on real-time readings, utilizing rack sensors and control modules to collect temperature requirements and Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) airflow and power metrics, resulting in a fully optimized, intelligent cooling system.

  1. Airflow Management

Poor airflow management leads to a lot of undesirable results, including the recirculation of supply air, causing hotspots and reducing the overall effectiveness of the data center’s cooling plant.  By implementing simple airflow management techniques, such as adding floor grommets, implementing partial or full containment, and adding blanking panels, data center operators can see reduced plenum losses, and immediate energy savings. This is a simple, low-cost method to reap instant financial benefits and improve Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).

  1. Baseline Energy Reduction

Sustainable energy sources such as solar, fuel cell and wind power are becoming more and more commonplace within data centers to reduce overall energy use, shrink their carbon footprint and become more energy independent. Not only can sustainable energy sources reduce energy usage, self-contained power plants can also offer data center operators the option to develop a micro-grid, which decreases the reliance on an aging, electrical infrastructure and provides a strategy for modular data center solutions.

To learn more about these six strategies for enhanced energy efficiency, check out our eBook, “6 Ways to Improve Data Center Energy Efficiency”.  If you would like more information about any of these solutions or feel that you could benefit from customized professional assistance, please visit www.eecnet.com or email us at info@eecnet.com.

About the Author:

bodenskiDaniel Bodenski, PE, LEED AP, is Director of Strategic Solutions at Electronic Environments Co. Mr. Bodenski has over 20 years of experience in mechanical systems design and project management for mission critical facilities. He has managed several large design, due diligence, site assessment and commissioning projects for telecommunications, healthcare, financial and retail data center clients. At EEC, he proactively increases facility reliability through implementation of new technology for mission critical facilities.

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.