Green Benefits: Reduced Costs, Carbon Footprint

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Loren Zweig is vice president of engineering at CoreLink Data Centers, LLC.

Loren-Zweig CoreLinkLOREN ZWEIG
CoreLink Data Centers

As third-party providers of mission-critical IT infrastructure that guarantees secure, uninterrupted network and critical environment uptime, commercial data centers enable their clients to focus on their core functions.

Data center clients, whether in the communications, marketing, manufacturing – truly in most any field – are not in the business of IT. They exist to fulfill their customers’ business needs with assurance, which they’re able to do in part by outsourcing their necessary, although non-revenue-generating IT infrastructure operations. Outsourcing or co-sourcing IT functions and services, requires corporate CTOs and other decision makers to choose data center service providers not only for the facilities’ ability to deliver redundant and reliable critical power, cooling and network services, but also for their ability to do so in ways that minimize environmental impact and carbon footprint.

Fortunately, the most environmentally conscientious data center service providers have or are in the process of implementing green initiatives that lessen carbon footprints, operating physical plants more efficiently and effectively and thereby lowering operating costs. Operating critical environments as efficiently as possible also has the tangential benefit of helping customers demonstrate a strong commitment to corporate citizenship and environmental sensitivity.

Improved Data Center Environmental Efficiencies

Green data center initiatives that improve data center efficiencies take on many forms, including Energy Star-rated or other highly efficient power, cooling, and lighting systems. At the heart of these efforts is a commitment to operating data centers as self-contained ecosystems that promote lower energy consumption and operating costs, and facilitating, in a growing number of municipalities and states, lower tax rates and rebates.

The most-comprehensive green data center initiatives include both highly efficient technology as well as relatively simple ways to maximize overall data center building efficiencies, comparable to insulating homes against Arizona heat and Alaska cold. Among others, these methods below bring efficiency to the data center.

Green Techniques to Maximize Building Efficiency

  • High efficiency, Energy Star-rated Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems that deliver greater than 95 percent efficiencies at partial loads. This is a keystone to any green initiative as UPS-related power consumption has always been the largest power consumer in a data center environment. A recent trend also includes using Flywheel technology, if one can stomach the short transition time, and an on-line battery UPS if the utility provides power quality such that protected power type UPS equipment is unnecessary.
  • Hot or Cold aisle containment. Containing hot air removed from servers and cold air supplied to them increases efficiency and reduces power consumption. Data centers are leveraging Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) computer simulations to segregate and contain airflow and optimize efficiency.
  • LED lighting can reduce lighting power consumption by as much as 80 percent as compared to existing high efficiency lighting systems.
  • White, Energy Star-rated Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM) roofs that reflect, rather than absorb solar heat, thereby decreasing the amount of required data center cooling.
  • 400/230 Volt Three Phase electrical distribution systems replace standard U.S. 480/208 Volt Single Phase systems for improved efficiency and less power lost to heat during voltage transformation steps. Circuits using Three Phase 230 Volt circuits gain additional efficiencies by requiring fewer power circuits and hence less electrical materials. Of course, data centers must also provide 120V circuits where needed.
  • Electrically Commutated (EC), or “plug” fans deliver greater efficiency than traditional AC motor and belt-driven fans.
  • Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs), devices regulating pumps and blowers so that they operate not on constant, but at variable speeds for peak efficiency and lower power use.
  • High efficiency HVAC for non-critical data center areas such as electrical and mechanical areas that don’t require precision air conditioning (re-heating and humidification).
  • Centralized humidification systems installed outside of Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units using Ultrasonic methods that use a fraction of power typically needed for steam or IR humidifiers.

Data Center Is A Self-Contained Ecosystem

The key tenet of a data center’s successfully devised and implemented green initiative involves viewing the facility as a self-contained ecosystem in which physical plant and technology equipment efficiency of at least 80 percent or Energy-Star rated is sacrosanct. This number represents an important benchmark as power costs continue to increase and larger colocation and managed services customers are able to implement metered-power infrastructure charges, effectively shifting the responsibility for reducing consumption and increasing efficiency to the end user.

CTOs interested in achieving data center efficiencies need to work with technology that meets or exceeds the Energy Star-rated and LEED Certified brass rings. Those that do are in the best position to partner with their outsourced data center provider to help their company achieve a a reduced carbon footprint, lower operating costs and receive credit bestowed upon the greenest in the land.

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2 Comments

  1. raul

    isn't DC equipment more efficient due to less transformations required? i'm no expert but i've read this in several places?

  2. Actually, if I'm looking for any new equipment, whether it's for work or for personal use, I always check their Energy Star rating first. By knowing just that, I'm pretty confident it's not going to eat up a lot of power. Of course, it's going to save me a lot of money. It's the same thing I advise to some of our clients who are having trouble with overhead costs.