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Saving Money with Sustainable Data Center Containment Solutions

Helping companies reduce consumption sustainably with data center containment and maintenance

Reducing energy consumption in the data center industry is a key objective of any data center owner/operator who desires the enormous cost savings that come from even the simplest of solutions. The challenge lies in contending with the fact that data center consumption increases over time. Embracing sustainability involves reducing consumption on a long-term basis and creating a maintenance plan that can help the provider capitalize on the initial gains made during the early phases of their project. Since energy efficiency and data reliability are key requirements for anyone managing or associated with data centers, keep reading to learn how to achieve success in these areas in the environmentally cleanest way and with the quickest ROI.

One Time Project vs. Sustainable Solution 

Anyone can go through all the effort to reduce consumption in data centers and then end up not maintaining the momentum. If you don’t develop an ongoing maintenance plan, your solution is not sustainable. Say your team had your hot/cold aisle containment systems optimized at one point, allowing for peak mechanical performance. Many data centers did this years ago as the savings are easily around a 30% reduction in power costs – a level of ROI that drives budget approval. Over time unfortunately, most providers see their power bills and Power Usage Effectiveness (PUEs) ratio creep up over time. Very quickly, they begin to lose many of their project’s initial benefits when all they needed was an effective maintenance program.

Data center providers need a regularly scheduled review of the containment system that they installed. Monthly is the best frequency, but we at Salute would not push it past quarterly because of the pace of activity and change rate in a data center. It is not uncommon for us to be called in to assess the environment and find that the containment system simply needs maintenance to regain efficiencies.  Not everyone working in your data center understands airflow dynamics. Without the right specialists on hand, data center providers run the risk of erasing the gains they had achieved earlier. The key takeaway? As you push the strategic notion of sustainability, also embrace the idea of being proactive and holistic with maintenance in order to achieve sustainable long-term gains.

Data Center Cooling Methods

According to Global Market Insights, on average, cooling systems represent 40% of total data center energy consumption, with data centers utilizing approximately 3% of the global electrical supply. It is no secret that to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon footprint, it is essential not to waste energy with power and cooling the data center. Follow these 3 steps to have an efficient and reliable data center while reducing energy consumption:

  • Understand bypass air and recirculation air and the adverse effects they have on the data center. Following airflow management “best practices” results in most data centers reducing airflow so that the demand airflow is approximately 85-90% of the supply airflow required to cool the IT equipment.
  • Understand containment efficiencies because, without it, it is not uncommon for data centers to supply 2 times the required airflow to the IT equipment to negate the effects of recirculation air.
  • Data centers can often power down Computer Room Air Conditioner (CRACs), saving utility and maintenance costs.

According to the U.S. EPA, a robust data center containment solution can reduce fan energy consumption by up to 25% and deliver 20% energy savings at the cold water chiller. It can save a data center approximately 30% of its annual utility bill without additional CapEx.

As part of the new data center design and retrofitting existing data centers, aisle containment solutions should always automatically be included.

Hot Aisle Containment (HAC) vs. Cold Aisle Containment (CAC)

Containment makes existing cooling and power infrastructures work more effectively because it entirely separates the cold supply and hot exhaust air. Regardless of the Server Class, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends that the temperature at the server inlets be no higher than 80.6°F.

Cold aisle containment, in a nutshell, encloses the cold aisle so that only cold supply air flows into the air intakes of the IT equipment.

On the other hand, hot aisle containment encloses the hot aisle to collect the IT equipment’s hot exhaust air, ensuring that only hot exhaust air returns to the CRACs.

All in all, the point is separating the hot and cold air. An assessment of the facility will be needed to choose the right containment solution for your goals. The layout and configuration will be critical to understanding the best options. But ultimately, both options will improve efficiency and lower operating costs.

The advantage of hot air containment over cold air containment is that your employees will benefit from separating the hot air, therefore having a cool room to work in, unlike cold air containment.

If you want to learn more about data center containment options and get the best bang for your buck while saving the environment, contact us today!

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