Retro-fitting data centers

Is it worth the capital investment to Retro-fit data centers for sustainability?  the answer is YES..  Consider this, for every watt of power your IT equipment consumes within the DC, the real total consumption per watt is > 2w with power losses to the utility and cooling.  Let’s face it, typically if the investment does not provide a financial return it’s often a hard sell to management.  It’s my experience working at a mega global company that the story and financial justification is possible, but what you pick and how you deliver the message is important.  In our 90+ DC’s worldwide, we have every conceivable design, age, and efficiency level but every one of our DC’s has low hanging fruit. The easy answer to the question is find your low hanging fruit and pick it; keep it simple and go after the big wins with little investment or risk to your company.  Here are my top 5 “low hanging fruit” opportunities for energy conservations via retro-fit in the DC:

1) control the air – stop 99% of the air mixing with blanking panels, row/rack realignment, walls, air barriers or whatever it takes (typically delivers >15% cooling efficiency)

2) measure and tune – stop over cooling the room and make sure you are running the right amount of cooling for your needs (many DC’s overcool routinely)

3) Free cooling – outside air is great in the right regions and wet side economizers for pre-cooling in other locations can save you a ton of cooling (no pun intended)

4) increase electrical efficiency - replace transformers / breakers for 415v power to the DC (saves about 7% in efficiency loss),

5) buy and run high efficiency IT equipment (this matters).

Don Atwood – Intel DC Architect