34 BUILDINGS 11. 14
s Implement processes that demand communication and
require sign-off by parties who will be affected.
s Research and create lifecycle processes for FM and IT
equipment. Review maintenance schedules periodically
based on monitoring.
s Get buy-in from the top down.
To get airflow management right, you have to know
your needs. Monitoring and benchmarking are seminal to
improving efficiency at all types of facilities. “If you can’t
measure it, you can’t manage it,” says Vaccaro. “It comes
down to understanding what the airflow demand is in a
facility, and operating around that.”
He recommends using tools like computational fluid dy-
namics (CFD) analysis to get a snapshot of how air moves
through the data center. He adds that if that isn’t within
the facility manager’s core competency, many engineering
firms can provide the service for a reasonable price. Hav-
ing certain technologies in-house can be helpful, though.
“You have to know what’s happening. You have to monitor,” says Seger. “Using dashboards, DCIM [Data Center
Infrastructure Management], energy power monitoring –
having those systems in place to a granularity that fits your
business needs will help you see where energy is used.
When you can identify all the energy users, you can target
the bigger ones,” he explains.
With measurements and figures procured, facility managers should also compare their data centers to industry
standards. “ASHRAE has some great standards available
with parameters for operating your data center from a
temperature and humidity standpoint. I think some people
aren’t even close to some of those upper limits and thresholds,” says Vaccaro.
Reduce Energy and Emissions
Methods to reduce energy use in data centers depend on
the facility. “Because all data centers aren’t the same, it’s
really hard to say what you can do to increase efficiency,”
says Seger. Much depends on the site, the load, and even
the local climate.
A holistic approach to energy reduction is what Seger continued
Consider how you can match these principles to your
calls “cascading energy efficiency.” For example, hot aisle/
cold aisle containment can reduce energy, “but adding
containment alone doesn’t do much for efficiency,” says
Seger. “If you can control your fans so they supply only the
amount of air the servers need, you save fan energy. And
if you can then increase the air temperature going to the
servers to what the servers need, and if you can increase
the chilled water temperature, it cascades all the way
down into the chiller plant.” He advises taking a look at
the fundamentals and the possible cascade impact to know
if you will actually save energy. “If somebody says ‘Raise
a setpoint in your data center and it will save you energy,’
you may save you energy, you may not,” he says.
Monitor your building and IT consumption.
“Through the years, monitoring that integrates what is go-
ing on with your IT equipment, cooling, and power equip-
ment has really taken off,” says Huang. “DCIM allows for
benefits beyond energy efficiency; it allows you to manage
your assets and to plan for the future.”
Software and monitoring dashboards help facility manag-
ers track the important numbers in real time, and more and
more developers are offering DCIM products, which will
eventually even out prices for this vital tool. Smart sensors,
smart PDUs, temperature and pressure sensors, and CFD
modeling are other technologies that help you know what is
going on in your data center. “Being able to manage down at
the IT equipment level is always a very important part of the
facility equation,” says Vacarro. New, ENERGY STAR-rated
IT equipment can also keep energy use at optimal levels.
Check out the sidebar on page 36 for a list of efficiency strat-
egies that can save energy in your data center.
Never neglect airflow. No discussion on data centers
and energy efficiency is complete without several airflow
reminders. Consider blanking panels in server racks,
conduits and cutouts, hot/cold aisle configurations, and
recalibrating CRAC or CRAH units. Change your air filters
according to your specific system’s requirements.
PARTIAL ECONOMIZER MODE mixes outside air
and return air. The direct air cooling with outside
air augments the CRAC units, decreasing cooling
costs yet meeting the desired supply temperature. Source: Intel, Data Center Efficiency and
Retrofit Best Practices
FREE AIR COOLING