New Energy Star metrics created by the Environmental Protection Agency can help facility managers and IT managers to improve data center efficiency. Like any other building, the data center must log a year’s worth of energy use to calculate its percentile score, with 75 percent being the minimum score for efficiency required for Energy Star certification. That number is based on energy used per square foot. But the new Energy Star metric for the data center is based on the ratio of IT energy to total energy used. What emerges from this measure is a clear picture of how much energy non-IT equipment is using, particularly cooling equipment.
It is now known that data centers use 2 percent of all electricity used in the United States, and since data center construction is going strong and old data centers are being expanded or refurbished, it is crucial that facility managers help IT managers understand the importance of reducing energy use, says Mike Zatz, chief of the market sectors group of the Energy Star Commercial and Industrial branch at EPA. According to Zatz, the most recent statistics show that 600 stand-alone data centers are being benchmarked, and the EPA now boasts 22 Energy Star Data Centers.
One of the most important factors in increasing energy efficiency is changing perceptions of data center managers, who are afraid that energy efficiency threatens the safety of their data. Many take an overly cautious approach to raising temperatures in the data center, for example, even though ASHRAE’s new guidelines now allow for more variation on both the high and low end of what is considered to be safe temperatures for the data centers.
In addition to adjusting temperatures, data center managers can do other things to save energy. For example, they can carefully measure energy use and cut back on unnecessary lighting, or they can use state-of-the-art technology, such as damper balancing systems that make use of outside air to cool a building, to name a few strategies.
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