In my December blog post, I discussed the issues surrounding measuring process efficiency in a data center. In that post, I mentioned that I have found that data center owners and operators do not measure or track the computational output (i.e., productivity or kilowatt-hour/compute metric) of their data centers. There are many reasons for this, including a lack of time and resources within most organizations to dedicate to the effort.

Organizations that are interested in understanding the efficiency of their data centers, but aren’t ready to develop a productivity metric, can get a helping hand from the federal government. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star Rating for Data Centers allows data center owners and operators to rate and benchmark their data centers through EPA’s Portfolio Manager energy management tool. After the data center owners or operators enter all of the relevant energy and water consumption data into Portfolio Manager, they will receive their respective data center’s ranking compared to other data centers. For instance, if they receive a ranking of 75, the Energy Star ranking indicates that their data center is performing better than 75% of other data centers.

At Willdan, we recommend that our clients use Portfolio Manager. This free resource provides data center owners and operators with a starting point from which they can make their data centers more efficient. Organizations that incorporate this tool as part of their standard operating procedures will be able to see how their ranking changes on a yearly basis as they implement energy efficiency measures in their data centers. Currently, there are 72 Energy Star Certified data centers, two of which are in New York State.

We provide a few items for our clients to consider, however, when they receive their ranking. First, data centers are harder to compare to one another than other facility types. Myriad configuration options and types of information processed by different data centers impact the ability to conduct a “like for like” comparison of the facilities. Second, data from 120 data centers was used to create the original sample set and therefore may not include all system configurations. Lastly, the rating system does not have the capability to normalize data based upon geographic location. The ability to cool a load with less energy-intensive options (think free cooling) does vary by location.

Click here for more information on how to use EPA’s Energy Star Rating for Data Centers in your organization.