Proposed Data Center Standard Rewards Efficiency

May 1, 2012

A proposed change to ASHRAE Standard 90.1 will focus on system efficiencies that reduce energy consumption in data centers, building on the previous standard, which only recognized equipment.

The standard, which covers all buildings except low-rise residential, included data centers for the first time in 2010. Economizers were required for most data centers, but the mandate was criticized by some in the industry who claimed that economizers are vulnerable to static electricity discharge due to low humidity, gaseous contaminants, and reliability.

The committee tasked with proposing revisions to 90.1 worked with the data center industry and ASHRAE’s technical committee on mission control facilities, technology spaces, and electronic equipment.

This team developed an alternative path – power usage effectiveness (PUE) – to allow data centers to use developing technologies that aren’t yet complemented by energy modeling tools.

“This is a significant issue to design professionals. Without a simulation program available to model these systems, they have to receive approval from the authority having jurisdiction for an exceptional calculation method, which, in most cases, is beyond the jurisdiction’s knowledge level,” says Drake Erbe, vice chair of the 90.1 committee.

“The PUE values were developed using water cooled chillers with water-side economizers and air cooled chillers with air-side economizers, using prescriptive requirements currently in the standard. The PUE values for all climate zones are achievable by both of these conventional system types.”

To learn more about the 15 proposed addenda to Standard 90.1, visit www.ashrae.org/publicreviews. The organization is currently soliciting public comments on ventilation for acceptable IAQ, refrigerants, testing for commercial water heating equipment, and more.

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