By Christopher M. Johnston
Data center managers today are under pressure to reduce operating costs – and that’s the easy part of the story. The hard part: They’re supposed to accomplish this while maintaining availability and spending little or no money. They must focus on the low-hanging fruit.
Legacy data centers present the greatest challenge because of their older infrastructure and because they weren’t designed to make changes on the fly. Luckily, there are proven strategies that can reduce operating costs without jeopardizing availability. Before considering those options, it’s important to define the legacy data center that will benefit from those measures:
- Infrastructure availability must meet your needs.
- Reducing availability isn’t a viable option.
- Existing electrical and mechanical infrastructure must remain in service.
- Cooling is distributed from computer room air-conditioners (CRACs) under an access floor.
- Large double-conversion UPS systems are used.
Here are seven things you can do with a data center to reduce costs while still meeting these requirements.
- Shut down UPS system redundancy. If you have a System + System (2N) UPS arrangement, and if you have a redundant module in each system, shut down the redundant modules. If you have a single UPS system with more than one redundant module, shut down all redundant modules except for one. You can turn on the redundant modules periodically – just long enough to charge the battery.
- Turn off all non-egress and emergency lights in computer rooms and support areas.
- Within reason, eliminate leaks in the access floor and between the access floor and the building structure so that the cooling air is introduced into the cold aisles and nowhere else. Cold air introduced where you don’t need it is wasted.
- Install CRAC return extensions (top hats) or return duct extensions to stratify return air. The top of the top hats should be about 2 feet below the ceiling or structure above. This will increase CRAC return air temperature and increase operating efficiency and capacity.
- Turn off humidification and reheat in all CRACs except one or two in each computer room. Disable the relative humidity alarms in CRACs with humidification and reheat turned off. Set the CRACs with humidification and reheat to maintain relative humidity between 40 percent and 60 percent as recommended in the new ASHRAE TC9.9 guidelines. This will prevent CRACs from fighting each other.
- Move the control thermostat in each CRAC from the return air stream into the leaving air stream. This will provide better temperature control.
- Gradually increase CRACs, leaving air temperatures so that cold aisle temperatures are between 64.4 degrees F. and 80.6 degrees F. as recommended in the new ASHRAE TC9.9 guidelines. Remember: The higher the temperature, the lower the energy consumption.
Accomplish these seven things, and you should decrease your energy consumption.
Christopher M. Johnston is national critical facilities chief engineer at New York City-based Syska Hennessy Group.
Successful Solar Installation at El Dorado Avenue Elementary School
With the installation of a high-efficiency solar power system, El Dorado Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles has become one of the first Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools to have a system that generates clean, renewable solar power.
The LAUSD received funding from its recent settlement with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and from its solar incentive program, and has partnered with SunPower Corp. The solar system at El Dorado Avenue Elementary School will generate more than 181 kilowatts of solar energy, which, combined with energy-conservation measures, will provide 90 percent of the school’s annual usage.
The installation of the system also makes El Dorado Elementary one of the first two schools in the LAUSD to become grid neutral (it will produce as much electricity as it uses in a year).
Within the next 6 months, the LAUSD plans to install solar power systems at six more schools and LAUSD Local District 5 offices.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Renovations Complete
After almost 2 years of construction work and architectural preservation, the first phase of renovations on the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County have been completed. Construction on the building, which was originally built in 1913, began in December 2006. Renovation projects on the Beaux-Arts structure by Hudson & Munsell include seismically strengthening the building, retrofitting with 21st-century infrastructure, and restoring architectural details.
The first phase of renovations cost $91 million; during the renovations, the adjacent 1920s building stayed open to the public. Future construction plans include the renovation and reinstallation of a total of 70,160 square feet of exhibition space.
Poor Acoustical Quality in Schools a Concern
The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) found that many new schools fail to meet the government’s acoustic standards, which are laid out in Building Bulletin 93, meaning that thousands of children could miss out at school due to an inability to hear and learn in the classroom.
Acoustical quality is important for children of all abilities in the classroom – especially children with special-education needs or who speak English as a second language. Despite the high importance of good acoustical quality in classrooms, the NDCS has come across a range of newly built schools around the country that have failed to meet the government’s standards. Additionally, a recent evaluation of new schools built under the government’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) program shows that between 26 percent and 40 percent of new schools didn’t have good enough acoustics in their classrooms.
Several leading charities and teacher associations have joined up with the NDCS to urge the government to make acoustics a higher priority in schools. The NDCS has launched the Sounds Good? campaign to ask the government to require new schools to pass an acoustic test before they’re used.
Studio 6 Unveils New Extended-Stay Prototype
Accor North America, one of the country’s largest hotel owner/operators, announced that its child company, Studio 6 Extended Stay, has plans for a new Studio 6 prototype. The new prototype will be the first for Studio 6 in 8 years.
The new prototype features light and open living spaces, and separate seating areas for eating and working. The design includes black granite countertops, vessel/raised sinks, and walk-in showers, as well as 32-inch flat-screen HDTVs in the living areas. The carpet will be replaced with 80-percent pre-consumer recycled wood-effect laminate flooring, and rooms will include WiFi.
The rooms were designed by Priestman Goode of London to optimize the use of space and provide a comfortable, residential feel. The first prototype will be a corporate-owned location in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and construction will begin in Summer 2009.
Clinton Climate Initiative Project to Help Sustainable Urban Growth
In an effort to compromise climate-change issues with rapid urban growth, the Clinton Climate Initiative, a project of the William J. Clinton Foundation, has partnered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to create the Climate Positive Development Program. The program will support the development of large-scale urban projects that demonstrate that cities can grow in “climate-positive” ways, and will strive to reduce the amount of CO2 in its developments to below zero.
Rapid urban growth is creating escalating infrastructure, energy, and health and human services costs that will be magnified by the pressure of climatic adaptation. The program will partner property developers with local governments to reduce net greenhouse-gas emissions to below zero in the program’s communities by implementing economically viable innovations in buildings, generating clean energy, managing waste and water, and working on transportation and outdoor lighting.
The Climate Positive Development Program will create 16 climate-positive communities in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Panama, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
University of Illinois’ Residence Hall West to Achieve LEED Silver
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s new 99,000-square-foot Residence Hall West is part of the second phase of the University of Illinois’ ongoing housing-redevelopment plan. Residence Hall West, which will provide for more than 300 new beds, will incorporate sustainable design principles and features with the goal to achieve LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
Designed by 4240 Architecture and KSQ Architects, the residence hall will include double-occupancy rooms, semi-private bathrooms, and air-conditioned living environments. The project will also complete the final phase of facilities designed to integrate students with severe physical disabilities. Construction on the project is expected to be completed in Summer 2012.
TPI Index Shows Smaller Outsourcing Contract Values
The TPI Index shows that the outsourcing industry was awarded 141 contracts valued at $19 billion in the first quarter, down 21 percent on quarter and 22 percent on year, and the lowest contract values since Q1 of 2001 and 2003, respectively; however, the TPI Index shows that 2009 will be a defining year for outsourcing as companies become more conservative with decision-making.
The TPI Index also revealed that the IT outsourcing market accounted for 101 of the 141 total contract awards, valued at $15 billion, and retail sector contract awards increased by 40 percent from last year. Additionally, the number of contract awards and ACV (annual contract value) increased in the media sector, and the utilities sector signed 30 contracts.
For more information about the TPI Index, visit www.tpi.net/knowledgecenter/tpiindex/.
USGBC Offers Tips to Save Energy and Money
The U.S. Green Building Council released Top 10 Ways to Use Recovery Funds for Green Building in a continued effort to provide resources for state and local governments to take advantage of economic-recovery opportunities.
U.S. buildings are responsible for 39 percent of CO2 emissions, 40 percent of energy consumption, 13 percent of water consumption, and 15 percent of GDP per year. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides a tremendous and unprecedented opportunity for green building.
The USGBC is working with state and local governments to help them think about how to use stimulus funding to maximize sustainability in the buildings industry. This list will help governments to find these shovel-ready and shovel-worthy projects to make an impact in green building and the economy.
School Safety Index Shows More Improvements Needed
The 2009 School Safety Index, conducted by CDW Government Inc. (CDW-G), showed that, while schools are making improvements to physical and cyber security, there’s an increase in breaches.
The School Safety Index surveys more than 400 district IT and security directors, and measures 10 indicators and four contra-indicators to set a national benchmark to gauge the current state of school security.
The Index found that important advances have been made in school security, including the increase in the use of security cameras (from 70 percent of districts in 2008 to 79 percent of districts this year), as well as the increased use of mass-notification systems (from 45 percent in 2008 to 70 percent this year). Additionally, 88 percent of districts are now using wireless networks to give students increased Internet access, and 92 percent of districts are using encryption to protect networks and critical data.
Improved network and building security, however, don’t seem to have a significant effect on the number of school security breaches: 55 percent of districts reported an IT breach, and 67 percent of districts experienced a physical breach of security in the past 12 months.
Despite the number of breaches, three-fourths of responding districts believe that their cyber and physical security are adequate.
East Village Residence Hall Fosters Environmental Stewardship
Emory’s East Village Residence Hall at Oxford College, designed by Atlanta-based architectural firm Jova/Daniels/Busby, is seeking USGBC’s LEED Gold certification and was designed collaboratively with ECOS Environmental Design. It includes an innovative stormwater management plan that serves as an irrigation and education tool. The system harvests and recycles rainwater that is collected through the center campus courtyard.
Featuring sustainable elements such as the maximum use of natural daylight, light-sensitive fixtures, low-flow lavatory faucets and showerheads, and the most efficient heating and cooling system available, the building exceeds efficiency standards by 26 percent, while providing modern college residential facilities to 350 students and preserving the historic nineteenth-century aesthetics of the campus.
Macroeconomics, Legislation Play Part in Demand for Green Building
Despite the role that macroeconomics play in reducing demand for green building, it appears that green building is here to stay.
According to veteran environmental attorney James A. Kosch, many observers wondered whether the recent green movement would follow historical precedence and quickly fade. Kosch points out a simple case of macroeconomics as the scapegoat for reduced demand in green products and building, both in the early 1990s and today: As gas prices plummeted, so did the level of interest in green lifestyles and eco-friendly construction projects.
Despite the fact that many companies looking to go green last year have backed off, Kosch points out that the recent green movement appears to be more deeply rooted (in part due to improved technology that allows companies to go green more effectively than in the past). Polls are showing that U.S. shoppers still put a priority on sustainability, resulting in increased green-themed promotional campaigns in the marketing sector. Additionally, state and local governments, short on cash, still push for alternative energy and eco-friendly construction, following the Obama administration’s lead.
Legislation is also playing a large part in the current green movement, with legal professionals needing to carefully track issues related to water reuse; energy generation and sales; tax credits; insurance; economic incentives; easements for light, air, and conservation; and much more.
Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition Introduces Guiding Principles for Commercial Buildings
The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition (RSMC), whose mission is to identify and communicate scientifically accurate information about controlling mold and moisture in buildings, has introduced a series of recommendations intended specifically for commercial buildings. The Guiding Principles for Mold and Moisture Control – Commercial is posted on the organization’s website at www.responsiblemoldsolutions.org, and includes many valuable recommendations, such as keeping the building and materials dry and scheduling all trades in a manner that minimizes water intrusion.
Mold needs three things to grow – moisture, a food source, and mold spores – and moisture is the easiest of these factors to control. Additionally, dry buildings foster a more pleasant and healthy environment, and typically have fewer maintenance problems.