Vigilent Corporation and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have announced the results of a joint study focused on improving the energy efficiency of a data center designed, owned, and operated by Digital Realty.

The facility used for this initiative was Digital Realty’s 135,000 square foot data center located in El Segundo, California.  Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory monitored the overall effort, creating the baseline and result metrics, and acted as project manager for the energy efficiency grant awarded by the California Energy Commission’s PIER Program.  The results of this project were presented at the Silicon Valley Leadership’s Data Center Summit hosted by AMD on October 24, 2012.

The project focused on replacing constant speed scroll fans with electronically commutated motor (ECM) variable-speed fans of a more efficient design and deploying the Vigilent Intelligent Energy Management system to control fan speeds and computer room air handler (CRAH) output. The full report titled, “Demonstration of Intelligent Control and Fan Improvements in Computer Room Air Handlers,”  is available on Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s website.

“The goal of the study was to assess whether the fan speed control system was a viable solution for commercial data centers,” said Jim Smith, chief technology officer at Digital Realty. “We found that upgrading fans and adding fan speed controls in our data centers allow us to cool them more effectively and efficiently. In addition, the facility’s electrical energy usage was reduced, as was the average and peak electric power demand, resulting in a more energy efficient and sustainable data center environment.”

Key Findings

Deployment of Vigilent’s sophisticated percent drop in cooling energy usage at Digital Realty’s El Segundo facility, freeing stranded capacity while simultaneously expanding reserve cooling capacity. In addition, the software provided visibility into data center thermal conditions, which led to additional energy savings as well as a significantly improved temperature distribution. Furthermore, the El Segundo facility’s PUE (power usage effectiveness) was improved by 8 percent to 1.46; 2.9 million kilowatt hours will be saved annually; and greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide will be reduced by  1.9 million pounds per year as a result of the software and data center improvements.

“Gaining capacity from existing equipment is a competitive advantage for data center owners and operators,” said Christopher Kryzan, vice president of marketing at Vigilent. “The ability, at any moment, to see exactly how much capacity you have in reserve along with the ability to instantly deploy it, allows for a flexible, resilient data center and optimizes the use of valuable resources.”

Repeatable, Scalable Model

“Operational efficiency and thermal performance benefits are immediately available with existing technologies," said Bill Tschudi, a program manager at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “We believe the energy savings achieved through infrastructure improvements combined with a powerful monitoring and control system is a repeatable, scalable model for data centers everywhere, and the kind of improvement we are encouraging the industry to attain.”