Ultra-Efficient Data Center Achieves Firsts

June 6, 2013
This high-performance facility's annualized PUE reaches a new low.

NREL’s new high-performance computing data center isn’t just the first of its kind dedicated to advancing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy systems integration.

It’s also ranked first in the world for energy efficiency, the first of its scale to use warm-water liquid cooling, and the first to reach an annualized average power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.06 or better, compared to the average rating of 1.83, according to a 2011 study by the Uptime Institute.

NREL estimates potential savings of $800,000 in operating expenses, plus another $200,000 in savings from capturing waste heat instead of using mechanical heating.

How can you obtain similar savings? NREL’s strategies include:

  • Eliminating losses by using 480V electricity supplied directly to the racks instead of typical 208V electricity
  • A component-level liquid cooling system lowers the need for fans in the backs of racks
  • Redirecting data center waste heat to warm up offices and labs and melt snow and ice under the building’s front plaza and walkway
  • Using cooling towers instead of compressor-based cooling (possible thanks to the center’s 75 degrees F. starting temperature, higher than most data centers).

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