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

There is no question that the data center is a staple of society and a critical backbone of the modern economy.  However, it is also one of the largest and fastest-growing consumers of electricity in the U.S., projected to use over 140 billion kW hours by 2020.  This future consumption will cost American businesses an estimated $13 billion annually in electricity bills and emit approximately 100 million metric tons of carbon pollution per year according to the National Resources Defense Council.

With growing energy costs and an increased focus on reducing their environmental footprint, data center owners and operators are searching for new ways to improve energy efficiency within their facilities, while still maintaining reliability, high capacity and cost-efficiency.  At Electronic Environments Co. (EEC), we enable customers to develop efficient and profitable data centers that allow for maximum uptime, while minimizing capital and operational costs.  How do we do it?  Here are six key ways:

  1. Assessments

Detailed operational performance assessments provide insight into individual areas in which current energy efficiency practices may be lacking, as well as how these areas can be improved.  This includes assessing airflow, Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and data hall temperature in order to effectively lower energy costs.  At EEC, we conduct in-depth performance analyses and provide quick and cost-effective solutions for design, installation and maintenance improvements that help our customers prepare for external audits as well as support the development of long-range, strategic efficiency plans.

  1. Equipment Upgrades


As data center equipment ages, it becomes less efficient.  Moreover, today’s innovative data center customers require equipment with higher compute power and enhanced capabilities.  In order to maintain a reliable, energy-efficient and marketable facility, data center operators should upgrade their gear with green, energy-efficient equipment such as ECO mode Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), 380V DC power systems, lighting system retrofits, and efficient chillers.  EEC is well-versed in these energy-saving equipment options and the Return on Investment (ROI) they can offer data centers.  If resources do not allow for hardware replacement, operators should ensure their current hardware is properly maintained.


  1. Maintenance


Has your current equipment reached its End-Of-Life (EOL)?  If so, it could be costing you substantial OpEx dollars by reducing efficiency, not to mention posing a serious threat to your facility’s uptime.  According to The Ponemon Institute, one minute of data center downtime costs an average of $7,900.  Employing a comprehensive maintenance routine and on-demand asset management system are key to ensuring data center reliability.  Ensuring generator heaters and batteries, overcurrent protective devices, load banks, generator coolant, and fuel and oil are properly maintained will increase operational efficiency and reduce overall critical system downtime.


  1. Dynamic Cooling Management


Increasing cooling efficiency is important to reducing costs within a data center.  According to an Uptime Institute study, up to 70 percent of data center energy use is for cooling and air handling.  By employing a dynamic cooling model, you can realize immediate energy savings, efficiencies across network transformation, and increased network reliability.  Dynamic, intelligent cooling systems typically encompasses the optimization of individual fans based on real-time readings instead of zone-level control.  They also utilize rack sensors and control modules to collect temperature requirements and Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) airflow and power metrics.  However, all cooling models are not created equal.  At EEC, we can help you select a cooling management system that fits your individual facility’s needs.


  1. Airflow Management


Poor airflow management can have a significantly negative impact on efficient data center cooling, leading to air flow waste and hotspots.  Implementing simple airflow management strategies and best practices can improve data center airflow, helping you realize substantial cost savings and improve PUE.  Leveraging containment to minimize hot and cold air mixing, eliminating hot spots, using blanking plates to fill empty rack slots, and adding floor grommets are just a few low-cost methods you can implement to reduce plenum losses and secure immediate energy savings.


  1. Baseline Energy Reduction


Hydro, biomass, solar, tidal, wave, wind power and other sustainable energy sources have become common solutions to reducing data center energy usage.  By developing self-contained power plants, data center operators can also develop micro-grids, which enable facilities to become more energy independent by decreasing their reliance on electrical infrastructure, while also providing a strategy for modular data center solutions.


Learn more about these six keys to enhanced energy efficiency by downloading our latest eBook, “6 Ways to Improve Data Center Energy Efficiency”.  For more information about EEC, please visit www.eecnet.com or email us at info@eecnet.com if you feel that you could benefit from our customized professional services.