EPA Data Center Cuts Waste, Finds Savings


The Green Grid, an IT industry consortium that is studying and seeking to standardize metrics, processes, methods and new technologies to make data centers more energy efficient, partnered last year with the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to assess the energy consumption at typical small to mid-sized data centers, set in motion energy-saving measures, and then develop a set of recommendations for energy efficiency improvements.

In the study, the EPA acted as the guinea pig—the study centered on its data center located at One Potomac Yard near Washington, DC.

By making a number of changes—many of them simple and requiring little capital, the center was able to increase its energy efficiency by 20 percent. The steps will also save the center $15,000 per year in energy costs.

While this is a great finding for the EPA, of much greater importance is what implementing similar changes at small and mid-size data centers across the country could mean, in terms of saving energy and money. According to a GreenBiz.com, if “all of the 75,000 similarly sized data centers in the U.S. were able to put the same best practices in place, it would amount to a net savings of more than $1.1 billion in energy costs alone.”

The goal for any data center, no matter its size, is to as much of the grid power being consumed at the data center is power the IT equipment, and as little as possible for powering the building infrastructure. The Green Grid study identified a number of problem areas in the EPA center’s airflow system—such as such blocked air intact ducting or poorly-placed cabling that impeded airflow—and the building’s environment—such as temperature and humidity levels—that were quickly and easily adjusted in order to make cooling the servers less energy-intensive.

Of course, not all data center efficiency gains can be attended through simple adjustments to the building infrastructure, but it’s a good starting point. You can download and read the full Green Grid study here.  And you can listen in on an archive of an October 29th GreenBiz.com webinar about the study here (GreenBiz makes its webinars available for 90 days following the events).

Freelance writer Mary Catherine O'Connor finds that a growing number of companies are proving the ways that they can make good financially, socially and environmentally (as the triple bottom line theory suggests).With that in mind, she contributes to Triple Pundit, as well as to Earth2Tech and other pubs focused on sustainability. She also writes The Good Route, an Outside Magazine blog that addresses the intersection of sustainability and the active/outdoor life.To find out more, or to reach her, go to www.mcoconnor.com.

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