The Green Data Center Alliance: Organizations Should Start With the Simple Stuff

By Erin Monda September 10, 2010

I recently interviewed Daniel Skutelsky, director and chief architect of The Green Data Center Alliance, an organization focused on taking a holistic cross-disciplinary approach to saving energy. Lately, The Green Data Center Alliance has been developing a framework on behalf of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) which helps organizations reduce their energy consumption.

And it seems that every company can improve data center efficiency -- even by taking small measures.

To learn more, read some of the highlights of our conversation:

Erin: Why is temperature monitoring so crucial to data center operations?

Daniel: Power costs account for roughly half a data center's operating budget and cooling represents roughly half of that. So optimizing your cooling is critical to reducing your electric bill.  Monitoring temperature throughout your data center allows you to make informed decisions like where to place equipment. Another benefit is the ability to detect potential problems like the formation of hot spots.

Erin: Why is it important to maintain certain temperatures within a data center?

Daniel: If temperatures are too high you risk damaging your equipment. If temperature are too low, you are wasting money on overcooling. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Airconditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) worked with data center equipment manufacturers to develop a safe recommended temperature range.

Erin: How can high temperatures impact a data center's maintenance and performance costs?

Daniel: Walk into the majority of data centers and it feels uncomfortably cold. This is an unecessary waste of energy. Operating at higher temperatures, up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, will greatly improve your cost performance.

Erin: What methods are in place to ensure proper environmental impact in a functioning data center?

Daniel: That really depends on your capital budget and goals. The Green Data Center Alliance is releasing a framework which describes 30 measures you can take to improve data center efficiency. Some measures are relatively inexpensive like changing your thermal set point, using blanking panels in your server racks, and establishing a team with a mandate of power reduction. Other methods require some investment like installing an air side economizer for "free cooling,” or investing in a high efficiency UPS. There is a whole spectrum of solutions and what organizations implement should depend on their objectives.

Organizations should start with the simple stuff.

TechZone360 Contributor

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