Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

The Green Grid Turns Five, Ready for More

Since its formation five years ago, industry group The Green Grid has made significant inroads in standardizing measurements and adding to the “science” of data center efficiency, writes Winston Saunders of Intel.

Industry Perspectives

February 16, 2012

4 Min Read
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Winston Saunders has worked at Intel for nearly two decades in both manufacturing and product roles. He has worked in his current role leading server and data center efficiency initiatives since 2006. Winston is a graduate of UC Berkeley and the University of Washington. You can find him online at "Winston on Energy" on Twitter.

Winston Saunders



Among important data center industry milestones this year is the fifth anniversary of The Green Grid (TGG), the premier international consortium for resource-efficient IT. Formed by 11 founding member companies in 2007, the organization grew rapidly and today boasts approximately 150 general and contributing companies as well as 10 board-member companies.

Marked by its Achievements

Since its formation, the organization has contributed a tremendous amount to the data center “science” of efficiency.

Here is just a partial list of key results and contributions made by The Green Grid:

Harmonization of the PUE metric: Prior to The Green Grid there was no agreed standard to understand or compare the impact of infrastructure on data center efficiency. PUE is a great example of Peter Drucker’s adage, “What gets measured gets done.” Average reported PUEs have dropped from 2.2 in a 2006 Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory's study to 1.6 in a survey of TGG members in April 2011. This represents a 50 percent reduction in overhead energy. In fact, PUE was just adopted by ASHRAE (pending public review) into Std 90.1.

The Green Grid-Energy Star Project Management Office acts as a good-faith industry interface to the EPA for Energy Star rating on data centers, servers, UPSs and storage. The work done in The Green Grid has ironed out differences of opinion between industry members and, in my opinion, improved Energy Star by making it a user-relevant measure of efficiency. Several member companies have such confidence in The Green Grid’s work they decline to make individual company responses to the EPA.

Data centers use a lot of water and The Green Grid, again at the forefront, has developed a usage effectiveness standard, WUE, to standardize the measurement of water usage and encourage resource efficiency.

The Green Grid produced highly influential “Free Cooling” tools and maps to aid in data center site selection. The Green Grid has been among leading voices advocating the use of free “outside air” and economizers for efficient cooling of data centers. Both approaches can substantially reduce the energy consumption of data centers compared to conventional reliance on air conditioners and air handlers alone. The maps have been downloaded more than 11,000 times in the last two years.

A road map to the Adoption of Server Power Features, published in 2010, is one of the most (if not the most) comprehensive analyses available for server power management capability, how it is deployed, industry perception, and barriers to adoption. Strategic in nature, the study not only recommends concrete action today, but suggests future work to enable this fundamental aspect of data center efficiency.

The comprehensive Data Center Maturity Model helps data center operators quickly assess opportunities for greater sustainability and efficiency in their data center operations. Released just a year ago, it’s a popular invited talk at international conferences, not only for the results it promises today, but for the five year road map it lays out for the industry.

The Green Grid has facilitated international agreements with Japanese and European efficiency organizations, and with groups like ASHRAE, Open Data Center Alliance and the Green500. Interested how “containers” affect data center efficiency? There’s a Green Grid Task Force on that.

Future Projects for Green Grid

But the story doesn’t stop there. Ongoing work will quantify software efficiency and develop productivity proxies to help measure data center work output in standardized and user-relevant ways. Further chapters of the Data Center Design Guide will help provide guidance for those building new data centers. There are plans afoot in The Green Grid to develop IT recycling metrics and work is starting to focus on the role data centers can play in a “Smart Grid.”

In all, quite a list of accomplishments. So, if you want to learn more about what the Green Grid has accomplished in the last five years, how its work has contributed value to its member base, or have an interest in shaping the next five years of this exciting industry, please plan to attend the upcoming Green Grid Forum in San Jose, CA, March 6-7, 2012.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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