2015 Executive Order For Federal Data Centers
Remember back eight years ago to the 2007 EPA Report to Congress on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency with 133 pages of projections about how much energy we were consuming and a challenge to see how much we could save if we would implement more energy efficient technologies and operating procedures in our facilities (http://1.usa.gov/1I1vBdJ).
Since then, we have seen the data enter industry explode with change in ways that we would never have dreamed, almost as though solutions were sitting on the shelf waiting to save the day. We as an industry of data centers have responded to the challenge brilliantly and have proven that energy efficiency also means higher performance and lower total costs of ownership.
However, only the more advanced and affluent data center operators are effectively deploying many of these changes, leaving the rest of our legacy data centers as the “energy gluttons” they always were. Resultantly, we are seeing “prescriptive standards” in our new energy codes, like Title 24 in California (http://bit.ly/1NgFIgZ), and public controversy over new professional design guidelines, like ASHRAE 90.4, (http://bit.ly/1zazMcn). These standards sometimes direct operators to improve efficiencies with “economizers” and “containment” as a requirement to permit new data centers for construction and existing facilities for improvement. If you are a data center operator not yet familiar with these standards, you should bring your staff up to speed now.
The most recent of these guidelines are to be applied to our Federal Government data centers (http://1.usa.gov/1W0Cqza). They, fortunately, rely upon more flexible “performance standards” to allow data center operators to improve efficiencies over time. The new standards are defined in an Executive Order (E.O.) from the current Administration that define acceptable levels of energy consumption in terms of PUE, along with procedures for data center assessments and improvements, and with a rigorous training program for personnel that lead federal facilities programs. Here is some of the language coming out of Washington DC this year ….
“Federal leadership in energy, water, fleet, buildings, and acquisition management will continue to drive national greenhouse gas reductions and support preparations for the impacts of climate change.” A part of this federal leadership is to issue “Executive Order (E.O.) 13693 Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade” (March 19, 2015) and to enforce “Implementing Instructions for Executive Order 13693 Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade” (June 10, 2015).
The second document provides federal executive departments and agencies (agencies in short) with clarifying instructions regarding implementation of the E.O., including Section 3(a)(ii) in the E.O. that addresses data centers, and more specifically under the Energy section of the Implementation Instructions where data centers have their own subsection, “Data Center Efficiency.” The instructions include four key points that designers and operators should be aware of as shown below.
So, let’s take a look at the E.O. and see exactly how the Administration expects to implement the plan and accomplish their new objectives.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY DRIVEN FROM THE C-LEVEL
“Ensuring the agency chief information officer (CIO) promotes data center energy optimization, efficiency, and performance.”
The E.O. states that the agency CIO should develop, issue, and implement policies, procedures, and guidance for data center energy optimization, efficiency, and performance. And, we all concur that when the CIO or any other high-ranking executive is responsible for promoting energy efficiency in data centers then the chances are greater that energy efficiency will move up on the organizational “to-do” list. After all, without a solid buy-in at the C-level, lower level staff may not be heard when pointing out where energy is being wasted.
ADVANCED ENERGY METERS BY 2018
“Installing and monitoring advanced energy meters in all data centers by fiscal year 2018.”
The E.O. also states, “Advanced energy meters installed by agencies as appropriate in all data centers shall be meters that enable the active tracking of PUE for the data center.” So we see for certain that the E.O. is adopting PUE as the vehicle for tracking infrastructure data center energy efficiency. And, of course, we all remember that you can’t improve something that you can’t measure. And, we know that it takes a good number of monitors and meters to collect the data needed to “actively” track and trend PUE.
PUE TARGETS FOR NEW AND EXISTING FACILITIES
“Establishing a Power Utilization Effectiveness target of 1.2 to 1.4 for new data centers and less than 1.5 for existing data centers.”
The new energy code requires that new data centers shall be designed and operated to maintain a PUE of no more than 1.4, and encourage designs and operations to achieve a PUE of 1.2. And, when it’s cost-effective, agencies are encouraged to design for and achieve a PUE of less than 1.2. Now those are pretty aggressive numbers for enterprise and government spaces.
An even bigger challenge is presented to the government’s legacy data centers to improve their PUE to 1.5. Specifically, operating facilities are called upon to achieve a PUE of less than 1.5 wherever it is cost effective. When data centers are unable to cost-effectively achieve a PUE of less than 1.5, agencies are required to evaluate alternatives that will result in consolidation and/or closure of these data centers, including migration into other computing spaces and transition to cloud services. Now that one has some teeth.
STAFF TRAINING AND DCEP CERTIFICATIONS
We have seen for years that energy efficiency will inevitably decline over time if data center staff isn’t given direction and training on how to manage an energy management program. And, the newer more sophisticated systems require a greater need for properly trained staff. Let’s see what the E.O. says about staff training.
“All core data centers, to include existing, new, and planned, shall have at least one certified Data Center Energy Practitioner (DCEP), either on-site or centralized, assigned to manage data center performance and continued optimization. The DCEP shall coordinate with the agency CIO to meet the targets in E.O. 13693 and in the Implementing Instructions.”
The DCEP program was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in partnership with industry stakeholders soon after the EPA’s report to Congress in 2007. The DCEP Certificate program is currently managed by the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and three associated training organizations.
The main objective for the program is to provide centralized and consistent training that will raise the standards of those involved in energy assessments of data centers. Training events last between one and three days, and prepare attendees with the knowledge and skills required to perform accurate energy assessments of HVAC, electrical, and IT systems in data centers. It also trains students on how to use the DOE DcPro Profiling Tool and the Air-Management Assessment Tool for data centers.
Anyone interested in taking responsibility for the energy efficient design and operations of federal government data centers should look into this training and a DCEP certification. For more information about the DCEP program, please visit DOE’s Center of Expertise for Data Center Energy Efficiency in Data Centers hosted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at http://datacenters.lbl.gov/dcep. The website maintains an up to date training schedule and a list of over 450 certificate holders who are qualified to support federal data center energy efficiency programs and who are available to perform standardized energy assessments in virtually any data center.
The new E.O. 13693 and the implementing instructions lay out the foundation for making federal data centers more energy efficient by elevating responsibility to the CIO, requiring energy meters for active tracking of PUE, setting performance objectives in terms of PUE, and by requiring programmatic staff training to meet and maintain the objectives.
In a forthcoming article we hope to provide an overview of government incentives for driving data center energy efficiency improvements across the country in all of our data centers.
CRITICAL FACILITIES ROUNDTABLE
In October of 2015, Critical Facilities RoundTable (CFRT) met at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in Palo Alto to discuss new government energy codes (Title 24 and EO13693) and professional guidelines (ASHRAE 90.4) being developed for data center energy management. CFRT is a non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley that is dedicated to the discussion and resolution of industry issues regarding mission-critical facilities, their engineering and design, management, operations, and maintenance. We provide an open forum for our members and their guests to share information and to learn about new mission-critical technologies with the intention of helping our members improve in technical expertise and to develop solutions for the challenges of their day-to-day critical facilities operations. Please visit our website at www.cfroundtable.org or contact us at 415-748-0515 for more information. n