An ASHRAE Standards Update from John Bean, Schneider Electric’s Man on the Inside

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

One way for a company to demonstrate that it’s serious about the standards process is to allow, or even encourage, its employees to participate in the bodies that come up with standards. Look no further than John Bean for evidence that Schneider Electric falls into that camp.

In addition to serving as Director of Innovation and Technology for Schneider Electric, Bean is a voting member on a number of ASHRAE (formerly the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) committees, including:

  • Technical Committee (TC) 9.9 Mission Critical Facilities, Data Centers, Technology Spaces and Electronic Equipment
  • SPC 127-2012R, Method of Testing for Rating Computer and Data Processing Room Unitary Air Conditioners, for which he serves as chair
  • SPC 90.4P, Energy Standard for Data Centers and Telecommunications Buildings

I caught up with Bean at the recent 2014 AHR Expo in New York and got a quick update on what some of the groups are working on as well as some of the most important recent standards and what they mean for data center owners and operators.

The main focus of SCP 127 is to recognize some of the new cooling technologies that are now in the market, including in-row coolers and indirect air economizers and come up with ways to rate their effectiveness.

The SPC 90.4 group is “looking at energy efficiency more from a performance basis than a prescriptive basis,” Bean says. The focus is working toward some minimum efficiency standards while giving leeway in how you attain that level of efficiency, rather than prescribing how it should be done.

Bean also touched on the third edition of Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing book that ASHRAE came out with in 2012, which incorporated much of the information and recommendations from a white paper the IT subcommittee of the TC9.9 group had published.

Among the key takeaways was new thinking about server reliability as a function of server inlet temperatures. “There’s a lot of curiosity about what would happen as you move up in temperatures,” Bean says. “This new book gives you the ability to look at different temperatures and the reliability factor [associated with them]. Then you can look at the number of hours you’d operate over the course of the year at these different temperatures and figure out the net effect on server reliability.”

Bean notes that some of the new server classes, such as A3 and A4, have higher allowed operating temperatures, up to 40 and 45 degrees Celsius, respectively. So ASHRAE is looking at containment systems and perimeter CRAC units that are part of the solution to make sure they can keep up with the increased demand.

“If you move up the temperature and the servers need more air flow, then the cooling equipment needs to provision the extra air flow or else there will be a deficit of air and recirculation,” he says. “These are some of the key things that people should look for [in the thermal guidelines] book.”

Check out the short video above for my entire conversation with Bean.


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