Tag Archives: Business

Welcoming April to Setpoint Systems

AprilPlease join us in welcoming April to Setpoint Systems. In her 25-year career in the Denver area, she was a business co-owner of a product design and development company that started out manufacturing police equipment sold to law enforcement agencies all over the world. Eventually, the police equipment arm of the company was sold and the company transitioned to the awards and incentives market featuring custom imprinted products.

During this time April also co-owned a wholesale distribution company that sold automotive, commercial, safety, security and decorative window film. After that, she was an office manager at a company that manufactured paper tubes, such as the Quikrete concrete form tubes.

April was born and raised in Colorado. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, camping, fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, caving, and gardening. She has a daughter at Johns Hopkins University and a daughter that is in her junior year in high school. Her oldest daughter plans to become an international lawyer and her youngest daughter plans to become a plastic surgeon.

April is excited to work for Setpoint Systems Corporation because of the high intellectual caliber of the employees and the transparent management style. She is also looking forward to learning the ins and outs of the integration of building control systems.

Energy, materials, health, resilience and the near future of architecture.

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These days, one of the definitions of the value of design relates to how architects are uniquely positioned to positively impact ways in which people can live more sustainably. Yet, despite notable individual and collective progress, the profession hasn’t fully leveraged its resources to advance enduring solutions for these global challenges.

Through the introduction of two linked design and practice action plans, the AIA is focusing its intellectual resources on the core issues of energy and materials, as well as the emerging issues of design’s impact on health and resilience, by connecting chapter and component support, offering new and revised continuing education products, encouraging practice-based research, pursuing strategic partnerships, and refining its advocacy of the profession both legislatively and publicly.

Both energy and health emerged as priority issues in the “Sustainability Leadership Opportunity Scan” (published in October), a report commissioned by the AIA and undertaken by AIA Resident Fellow Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA, to identify unique areas where the Institute can most effectively strengthen the sustainable leadership and influence of architects.

“Energy and health are two very tangible areas that help clarify the bottom-line impacts of sustainability,” Lazarus says. “We’re talking about real issues that affect how people live, work, relate to their communities, and thrive.”

Although energy and health—as areas for architectural innovation—each face unique challenges and are at different places in their evolutions, both offer numerous opportunities to elevate architectural leadership.

“Architects can be the fulcrum for positive changes, and do so with purposefulness that comes out of the reason that many of us joined the profession,” says Rick Bell, FAIA, executive director of AIA New York (and a member of ARCHITECT’s editorial advisory committee).

Bell and others have observed that the continual growth of energy benchmarking regulations and performance-based codes has catalyzed a global industry shift from loose, aspirational sustainable goals to measured performance expectations and requirements. And the AIA Energy Action Plan will harness this important shift in order to set an agenda for the coming years.

“Optional rating systems, including LEED, helped set the stage for the recent transition to code-based and regulatory sustainable requirements like CalGreen and the International Green Construction Code, but requirements are quickly expanding to include actual performance and measured design outcomes,” Lazarus says.

The upgrade of existing buildings represents the greatest design need and opportunity, with 57 percent of existing U.S. building stock—more than 40 billion square feet—constructed after 1945 and commonly burdened by insufficient urban design, poorly performing envelopes and systems, and large floor plates.

“From a sustainability and energy standpoint, the most important challenge for architects is to improve the performance of the existing building stock,” says Carl Elefante, FAIA, principal of Quinn Evans Architects and a member of the AIA Board of Directors. “Our conundrum is that fascination with glossy photos on magazine covers of even the most innovative and imaginative new buildings misses the most important point: With only the rarest exceptions, new buildings add to the current carbon footprint. To reduce global warming potential, retrofitting existing structures offers the quickest, most reliable, and measurable opportunity. It is the best way for architects to have impact.”

Market forces have driven architects to do just that. The recent economic downturn has compelled some sole practitioners and firms to target existing buildings. According to the 2012 AIA Firm Survey, 42 percent of small projects today include renovation and rehabilitation work.

The AIA Health Action Plan recognizes perhaps the most important opportunities of our time: The built environment is a potential catalyst for addressing many of the nation’s most pressing health and wellness challenges, including rising healthcare costs, an aging Baby Boomer population, and climbing obesity rates.

“I do believe we’re in a collision of forces—a perfect storm of health issues,” says Dr. Richard Jackson, Hon. AIA, a professor at the UCLA School of Public Health and host of the recent PBS series Designing Healthy Communities.

“We’re looking at a 25-pound weight increase in adults since 1960 as well as a doubling of obesity rates and diabetes, not to mention an epidemic of depression.”

Jackson attributes much of these alarming U.S. health trends to the chaotic American lifestyle, a lifestyle that has been enabled by the built environment.

“We have excessively engineered physical activity out of our daily lives,” Jackson says. “I think architects need to create an America where the default option is the healthy option.”

Fully engaging the profession around issues of design and health is going to require a shift in mind-set, according to Joyce Lee, FAIA, architect fellow at the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health and co-author of Active Design Guidelines for the City of New York.

To illustrate the point, Lee compares the evolution of stairs and elevators in buildings to that of re-embracing natural ventilation in the age of air conditioning. “In many ways it’s about bringing back and celebrating age-old design techniques that the profession has taken thousands of years to perfect, yet have fallen away over the last 50 years,” she says.

Two Paths Forward

The AIA Health Action Plan

  • First, the AIA Leadership and the AIA Intern Development Program Advisory Committee have entered into discussions with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards to explore opportunities to integrate public health concepts into the Intern Development Program, beginning in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
  • Second, a new Design and Health website (aia.org/practicing/designhealth) has gone live under Practicing Architecture, replacing the Center for Value of Design. The site serves as a social aggregator for individuals to self-select public health issues according to their interests. Other features include a discussion board and resource library populated by members.
  • Third, with support from a $20,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the AIA and the AIA Foundation will host a summit on Design & Health in April 2014. The event will organize and advance research that concerns the intersection of design and health measurement, convening practitioners from design, policy, and public health as well as leaders in government agencies, non-government organizations, universities, and the private sector. In recognition of the efforts to measure health, the summit will seek to reconcile research and conversation around several focus areas.

The AIA Energy Action Plan

  • First, the AIA 2030 Commitment Database will house project-level energy data provided by AIA 2030 Commitment signatory firms, with the ultimate goal of migrating current Excel-based reporting into an easy-to-use online database that draws on aggregated data to provide real-time feedback and benchmarking. “There is so much value to this kind of information and it’s never existed before,” says Rand Ekman, AIA, director of sustainability at Cannon Design. “Having access to a robust database will be useful on the ground in establishing energy targets on projects, and will help firms better understand how well our energy models are guiding us.”
  • Second, AIA advocacy for energy legislation, which dates back to the energy crisis of the 1970s, has increased with the growing recognition that architects play a vital role in helping buildings use less energy. The Institute’s current advocacy efforts include supporting the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (commonly known as the Shaheen-Portman bill), a bipartisan Senate bill that promotes energy efficiency within commercial and residential buildings. At the same time, the AIA has rallied support from nearly 1,000 small businesses to oppose a potential amendment to the bill, an amendment that will propose the repeal of a 2007 law that applies the 2030 energy target to federal buildings. “We are more than 80,000 members strong, and that collective voice helps amplify our message to policymakers at all levels of government,” says Andrew Goldberg, Assoc. AIA, the AIA’s managing director of government relations and outreach.
  • Third, momentum is building for the AIA Awards Task Force recommendations to require each AIA Honor Awards submission to include predicted energy- and water-performance metrics, and a basic sustainable design integration narrative. Proposed to take effect with the 2015 awards program, the recommendations have gained broad national support from past AIA Firm Award recipients, AIA Knowledge Communities, and prominent firms. “We are quickly entering a new era of evidence-based design where the resource and carbon emissions reduction capabilities of our buildings can be reasonably predicted,” says William Leddy, FAIA, chair of the AIA Committee on the Environment Advisory Group and a founding partner of Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects. “We feel this information should become an important part of our discussion of design excellence in the 21st century.”
  • And finally, responding to member demand for additional energy educational resources, the AIA is planning to develop a curriculum that addresses a range of energy design and energy modeling topics. Coursework will combine in-person workshops and online learning tools as well as a new generation of written guides that provide a deeper understanding on topics such as how to effectively work with energy modeling consultants and how to identify financing opportunities within the energy retrofit market. Materials will be informed by existing energy educational programs, most of which were developed primarily for engineers.

More here: http://www.architectmagazine.com/high-performance-building/action-plans_o.aspx

LEED In Motion Reports Help Support Case For Sustainability

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has released a series of three LEED in Motion reports aimed at equipping green building professionals and advocates with the insight needed to make a strong case for sustainable building activity.

Each of the reports, available exclusively to USGBC members, examines a different facet of LEED’s effects, from its international growth to legislative action promoting green building to the development of innovative new technologies.

The first report, People and Progress, looks at the individuals and organizations that are driving and benefiting from green building. Released in August 2013 and featuring a foreword from Hines President and CEO Jeffrey C. Hines, it revealed that more than 4.3 million people live and work in LEED-certified buildings, while more than 6.2 million people experience a LEED-certified project every day. The report also examines the nearly 13,000 USGBC member organizations, ranging from Fortune 100 corporations to small neighborhood businesses, representing 13 million employees and $1.8 trillion in combined revenue. People and Progress also details the community of more than 186,000 LEED credential holders who are actively applying their specialized knowledge of LEED to advance the green building rating system while adding value to the firms that employ them.

The second report, Places and Policies, was released in October 2013, detailing the global, regional and local growth of LEED and outlining the policies and mechanisms supporting it. Featuring a foreword from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, the report notes that there are nearly 60,000 LEED green building projects across the globe, spanning 10.6 billion square feet. The report showcases in-depth statistics and graphics on LEED projects and areas of growth, examining domestic and international policies and partnerships that support the framework of LEED and drive global progress. Currently, more than 400 localities have LEED-specific policies in place, and there are nearly 100 green building councils in various stages of development as well as a LEED International Roundtable with members from 30 countries.

The final report, Impacts and Innovation, was released in November 2013 at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Philadelphia. The report details key impact areas and results of the thousands of projects that are utilizing LEED, as well as innovation highlights related to LEED and green building technologies. With a foreword from Bridges to Prosperity Executive Director Avery Bang, the report looks at the impacts of LEED through the lens of both business and human health.

Notably, Impacts and Innovation also features new LEED project energy data, revealing that 450 LEED projects that reported data experienced an energy use intensity (EUI) that was nearly 31 percent lower than the national median source EUI over a 12-month period. Additionally, 404 LEED projects indicated an Energy Star score of 85 in the same period, well above the level required for the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Top Performer” designation.

The green building movement has made tremendous progress in the last 13 years, and the LEED in Motion report series stands as a powerful testament to those achievements. However, rather than being merely celebratory, they also impel action to spur further transformation. As USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi notes in his foreword to People and Progress, “Though its end result is better buildings and communities, LEED is really about not settling for a passive status quo, but delivering with intention a built environment that actively partners with us on our health and well-being and our future. It’s about leadership.”

By: Jacob Kriss: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/

BOMI’s High Performance Program Can Help Ensure High-Performance Operations

To learn more about high-performance operations, it is often useful to examine existing programs. One such program is BOMI’s High Performance program.

Such initiatives come with benefits for tenants and management alike. Electricity costs are generally passed through to tenants, so lower costs mean lower rent. Improved energy performance can lead to increased occupancy and rents because of the premium ascribed to high-performance buildings. “Many tenants attribute material value to buildings with greater efficiency levels,” note Henderson and Waltner. In fact, certain tenants with sustainability commitments may consider only buildings with high-efficiency ratings. For example, the U.S. General Services Administration, the largest tenant in the country, requires new leased space to be Energy Star rated. What’s more, improved energy performance is expected to reduce maintenance expenses and increase the life of major building systems.

However, to be successful, such initiatives require a committed, collaborative effort on the part of a diverse collection of professionals — with the right skills and knowledge. As the Tower case study showed, communication is critical to success. Meetings were held monthly to review recommendations, track progress, and identify challenges. All building engineers were apprised of the progress and reminded that improving energy efficiency was an important company goal. And through a quarterly meeting, the message was reinforced to the entire team.

Such a level of leadership is an important ingredient. And for professionals who participate in BOMI International’s High Performance program, the understanding imparted can help them take a lead role in sustainable initiatives. As the Tower study observed, recommendations were implemented in part because they were validated and prioritized through discussions with trusted energy management experts.

David Borchardt (david.borchardt@towercompanies.com) is chief sustainability officer at The Tower Companies and an instructor at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies.

BOMI’s High-Performance Buildings Program

Organizations need staff with the skills to address the issues of sustainability and energy efficiency that are confronted every day in the real world. Toward that end, BOMI International has created the new High-Performance (HP) Program, designed by industry experts to further enhance the knowledge, skills, and abilities of professionals who are responsible for implementing sustainable initiatives.

“For high-performance professionals, we’ve crafted a three-course comprehensive program — an integrated and practical curriculum that encompasses virtually every aspect of a sustainable built environment,” says Holly Bentley, senior director of learning and development at BOMI International.

Among the courses, the first, High-Performance Sustainable Building Principles, provides a comprehensive overview of high-performance sustainable buildings and exposes learners to the components of the sustainable ecosystem. Industry professionals will gain insight on how to meet the imperative for sustainable initiatives, stay abreast of new trends in greening, and effectively communicate the value of pursuing sustainable building initiatives.

The second course, High-Performance Sustainable Building Practices, identifies no- and low-cost sustainable initiatives that every building professional can start implementing now. Throughout this course, building professionals will learn how to effectively optimize and apply sustainable best practices that cover every aspect of the built environment to drive operational efficiencies for a high-performance building.

The third course, High-Performance Sustainable Building Investments, delivers the strategies needed to envision, plan, and manage large-scale sustainable projects that maximize return on investment. Learners will gain an in-depth understanding of how to address efficiency challenges through the use of cutting-edge approaches that have a positive effect on an organization’s financial, social, and environmental bottom line.

The curriculum is offered alone or as part of BOMI International’s Real Property Administrator (RPA) or Facilities Management Administrator (FMA) designation programs. Professionals may complete the new BOMI International HP courses to earn the HP Certificate. Professionals who hold a BOMI International RPA or FMA may add HP to their designation to earn the RPA|HP or FMA|HP. Those who earn an RPA|HP or FMA|HP designation will have an in-depth understanding of how to define, initiate, pay for, complete, and obtain a return on investment for sustainable initiatives within all segments of a building or portfolio.

The knowledge that BOMI International graduates attain filters through all that they do. Says Garrett Chang, RPA, “The education I received from BOMI International encompassed key concepts in commercial real estate and has allowed me to speak and advise intelligently on related topics. As a result, my career has advanced as a true real estate professional.” — David Borchardt

Article by: David Borchard- Read More: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/

Energy Department Launches Funding Portal

U.S Department of Energy

U.S Department of Energy

The Energy Department has launched a new Financing & Funding portal on its web site to help financiers and developers of energy technology and projects find applicable programs.

The Energy Finance Working Group created three parts: resources for businesses; resources for projects; and additional resources. Information on financing a new energy business can be found at:

Funding or financing a new project resources are at:

The additional resources area provides links to related information and federal government programs, such as Grants.gov, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

More at: http://www.energymanagertoday.com

St. John’s Makes Energy Upgrades To 36 Buildings, Installs Building Automation System

St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN, received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems.

St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN, received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems.

State ARRA-funded C&I grant helps fund building retrofit: St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN, is constantly seeking ways to improve its infrastructure in the most cost-effective ways. And when the stimulus-funded Commercial and Industrial Grant Program from the Minnesota Department of Commerce came along, it made energy efficiency easy.

St. John’s Hospital received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems. The grant, combined with other energy improvements financed by the St. Paul Port Authority and the Trillion Btu Program, will save St. John’s about $200,000 per year in energy costs. Simple payback for the $1 million project is about five years.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve our infrastructure—to improve clinical quality, increase efficiency, reduce risk, and improve safety,” said Jed Field, system director of engineering for HealthEast Care System. “The state grant allowed us to take the extra step or two from an energy-efficiency perspective to achieve the maximum energy savings for our buildings.”

Field said the grant was perfect timing for several large-scale improvements the hospital needed. The work, completed in 2011, included operational improvements and control of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems to attain maximum energy performance. New NEMA premium efficiency motors were installed to replace all non-NEMA premium motors 10 HP or larger. The new building automation system was implemented so that equipment can be turned down or turned off when the spaces served are unoccupied. Equipment adjustments were made and special pump controls and valves were installed for precise control to meet heating and cooling needs.

The energy upgrade work on St. John’s Hospital not only reduces energy costs, it improved the indoor air quality and comfort for patients and staff. It also generated work for at least two full-time equivalent jobs for one year, Field added.

Field said virtually any commercial or industrial facility that is 20 years or older figures to save 20 percent on their energy bill if they make significant energy upgrades. “There are great opportunities for retrofitting buildings,” Field added.

36 facilities realize energy efficiency, cost savings: St. John’s is just one of dozens of commercial, industrial and nonprofit facilities throughout Minnesota that are realizing handsome energy and cost savings, thanks in part to the $4.1 million energy upgrade grant program administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. The grants, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), supported cost-effective energy efficiency improvements at 36 facilities in Minnesota.

Those 36 facilities will realize more than $3 million in ongoing energy savings every year for the foreseeable future, said Mike Rothman, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “This targeted investment of one-time funds will pay for itself over and over again,” said Rothman. “It has helped dozens of facilities dramatically reduce their energy consumption and realize millions of dollars in ongoing cost savings. That’s good for business, good for our environment, and good for our economy.

“Commercial buildings and industrial facilities like St. John’s Hospital consume about half of our state’s energy,” Rothman continued. “That’s why it makes sense to target large buildings like these. Targeted retrofits using one-time investments deliver the biggest bang for our buck.”

The program, which launched in December 2009, received 150 proposals out of which 39 were selected to receive grants. Most of the grants—36—were awarded for direct energy improvement projects, and three were given to nonprofit entities to operate revolving loan programs to help finance energy efficiency projects. For the direct improvement projects, the program required a financial match component. Projects were ranked according to projected energy savings, payback, leveraged additional spending per grant dollar, and job labor hours of work generated by the funding.

Average payback of four years: The grantees included a wide cross section of for-profit and nonprofit entities. Energy efficiency measures achieved included upgrades to lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and controls and improvements to industrial processes. Overall, the projects will save an estimated 440,000 MMBtu per year, or enough energy to heat 8,150 homes per year, and will have an average payback of four years. The projects helped create or sustain more than 25 full-time equivalent jobs.

The Chippewa Valley Ethanol Plant in Benson used its grant to improve the process to recover waste heat from a stream of hot exhaust gases discharged from a regenerative thermal oxidizer. The process captures heat that normally would be exhausted into the atmosphere, runs it through a heat exchanger, and then uses it to avoid burning natural gas to produce heat needed for other parts of the ethanol production process. Chippewa Valley received a $500,000 grant to help fund the $2 million project. With estimated savings of $700,000 in natural gas costs per year, the project will pay for itself in about three years.

Gerdau Ameristeel U.S. Inc. of Duluth replaced two 30-year-old 900 kW power supplies with two new energy efficient 1,125 kW power supplies. The power is used to heat steel bar stock which is cut and forged into steel balls varying in size from 1 inch to 6 inches in diameter. The steel balls produced from the operation are used extensively in the taconite mining industry of Minnesota as well as other ore processing operations globally. The $1.5 million project, which received a $95,000 grant, is projected to reduce Gerdau’s energy consumption by 7 percent and save about $50,000 per year.

Other companies to benefit from the state energy grant program included 3M Company, Aeon, Aitkin Iron Works, Arrowhead Promotion and Fulfillment Company Inc., Caledonia Care and Rehab, Cambria Company LLC, Center for Energy and Environment, City Center Retail/AG 800 Washington LLC, City of Minneapolis CPED, Coastal Seafoods, Community Reinvestment Fund, Davisco Foods International Inc., Douglas Machine Inc., Earl Brown Tower LLP, Fairview Health Services (Maple Grove), FourCrown Inc. (Wendy’s), Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota, Honeywell, J&B Group Inc., Le Sueur Inc., LifeCare Medical Center, Mall of America, National Sports Center Foundation, North Memorial Health Care (Maple Grove), Northern Plains Dairy, Pequot Tool & Mfg. Inc., Prospect Foundry LLC, Resource Inc., Rolco Inc., Seagate Technology LLC, Spruce Tree Center LLP, SuperValu Inc., Walker Art Center, Wausau Paper Mills LLC, YMCA of Greater St. Paul, and YWCA of Minneapolis.

To learn more: For more information from the Division of Energy Resources, visit the efficiency section of our website. Incentives for businesses and residences to perform energy efficiency upgrades are listed in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

This case study was created by the Minnesota Division of Energy Resources, Department of Commerce. Click here to see other success storie
Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/05/25/st-johns-makes-energy-upgrades-to-36-buildings-installs-building-automation-system/#3bHxrAkedzI3Xij6.99

St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN, received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems.

St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN, received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems.

Data Centers & the Importance of Energy Efficiency in Co-location, Cloud and Hosted IT Environments

An ever-expanding and changing digital society has not only spurred the growth and proliferation of data centers touching every facet of daily life, but has also caused the evolution of the data center itself. Consider these predictions for the year 2016:

  • Annual data traffic will exceed 60,000 petabytes, according to ABI Research
  • The number of devices connected to the Internet will be more than three times the global population, according to Cisco
  • More than a quarter of all data center capacity will be owned by service providers, according to IDC

Driving the changing landscape of the data center industry is digitization that has created a “customer 2.0” who wants to be connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who demands more, higher quality data and connectivity  and demands that Internet applications be provided as a service.

To meet this demand, a new kind of data center has emerged, changing the way data centers do business:  data center cloud, co-location and multi-tenant hosting providers.

A new breed of data center

What is this new breed of data center? In short, co-location providers (wholesale and multi-tenant) deliver resilient facility infrastructure and provide other data center-related services for its customers, allowing companies to own and most often manage their own equipment while taking advantage of not owning the property and facility. Cloud, Managed Services and hosting providers, on the other hand, can provide services at all three layers of a cloud: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). And cloud providers can provide services ranging from outsourcing of all infrastructure and applications to a hybrid model that enables organizations to keep their computing resources in-house and leverage cloud computing resources only when needed.

Why energy efficiency?

In any data center, the benefits of an energy efficient design and operation of infrastructure and systems for both the facility and IT will reduce costs (both CapEx and OpEx), and help organizations adhere to industry energy standards and government regulations – adding a competitive edge for the business. When smart energy management is added into the equation through many strategies such as right-sizing equipment, optimizing the environment and proper prior planning, all data centers cloud, co-location and multi-tenant providers can have a recipe for a successful, lucrative and highly efficient operation and business.

Reasons for data center energy inefficiency

When it comes to data centers, a slew of likely suspects contribute to energy inefficiency, including over-sizing power and cooling systems, poor capacity planning, underutilized IT equipment, colder than needed space temperatures and stranding capacities (power, cooling, space). Managing and optimizing the data center operation, capacity (power, space, cooling) in a complex, fast paced and changing environment on a day to day basis is challenging, particularly when it comes to Cloud, Wholesale and Multi-Tenant Collocation providers.

Why co-location and cloud, and why now?

Aging data centers cannot support the business requirements of today’s highly digitized companies and ever changing technologies. Add to that the high upfront costs and long timeframes for new data center builds and the need for scalable, agile solutions, and cloud and co-location facilities make perfect sense for companies that need to expand their computing capabilities in a short timeframe without breaking the bank.

In real estate, the oft-touted adage “location, location, location” is used to describe what buyers look for, first and foremost, in a home. With this new breed of Cloud services and data centers, however, the axiom takes on an entirely new meaning. Because of the technology and the way they are architected, cloud and some co-location facilities can locate themselves anywhere and take advantage of cheaper building costs, lower taxes and a cooler climates to utilize free cooling, while still delivering first class services to their customers. Traditional technologies, systems and/or businesses that need the “location, location, location” philosophy to meet business requirements often don’t have that same kind of flexibility.

Given this new reality, the growth in cloud, managed services hosting and co-location is starting to become the “new normal,” as companies determine how and what can be incorporated into newer technologies and services. The ever present drive for energy efficiency has become an increasingly important part of the equation for these providers. Energy efficiency improvements in data center facilities result in direct business benefits that impact the bottom line, including OpEx (energy) savings and a lower carbon footprint. This makes the business more productive while also helping environment.  A win for everyone!

Specific needs of multi-tenant providers and common challenges they face

At a high level, all data centers require the same kind of facility and technology infrastructure − such as power, cooling, servers, storage and networking − but co-location (wholesale & multi-tenant), cloud services and data centers also require additional infrastructure and technology to ensure they are running and utilized as efficiently as possible at all times. This includes real-time monitoring and control of critical infrastructure, IT equipment, applications and environmental conditions, integrated tenant billing, and even advanced Computer Aided Design (CAD) technology and CFD modeling. These capabilities help to improve efficiency and also enable accurate reporting to customers of the facility. Visibility is a key requirement for running an efficient data center while maintaining continuous service and operation.

The primary challenges that multi-tenant data center providers face include capital and operating cost control, capacity optimization, speed to market, and offer differentiation. Energy efficiency is a way to help reduce costs, increase business optimization, abide by legislative regulations and provide a cutting-edge differentiator for businesses that want to outsource their IT infrastructure to a “green” and highly efficient multi-tenant data center facility.

Other challenges include the financial pressure of securing capital and executing a scalable, profitable growth model; cycle time when it comes to speed to market, speed to incorporate technology and business model iterations; and competitive pressure as many large and small players are entering the market.

Tactics and tools for building energy efficient data centers

Power and cooling tips:

  • The ideal power system for cloud and co-location providers allows for scalable bulk power and cooling. For example, scalable uninterruptable power supply (UPS) solutions allow bulk power to increase seamlessly over time, which allows the system to operate at a more efficient rate with more load than a lightly loaded system.  It also allows for capital preservation as you can scale power and cooling when needed instead of building and waiting for occupancy.  A modular/ scalable cooling platform will allow the same benefits.
  • Maintaining proper air flow, white space layout (cold isle/hot isle) and not overcooling the white space (too cold…67-72 deg F) has a dramatic impact on energy performance.  Making sure there is a centralized and/or optimized approach to the environmental parameters of the white space is also critical, ensuring there are no units cooling while there are other units in a re-heat mode.  Poor airflow and/or inadequate space layout is a big contributor to “Hot Spots” which often times act as a cooling “vampire” creating inefficiencies.
  • More than 50 percent air leakage is routinely observed in data centers, which means that the cold air bypasses the IT equipment intakes and flows directly back to the cooling units. This leads to stranded cooling distribution capacity. Separation of hot and cold air streams will optimize the cooling system and provide a more efficient energy utilization of the cooling system.  This may also free up electrical capacity that was being “bogged down” by the cooling plant and HVAC units.
  • A centralized ultrasonic humidification system, which lowers electricity by a tremendous amount over individual humidification in computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units are another great way to decrease energy consumption while also having a more uniform environment.  In addition, this type of centralized system will reduce OpEx (maintenance) costs by not having to replace humidification bottles every year, which can reduce the electrical feeder size required to supply electricity to the CRAC units because a smaller circuit will be able to replace the re-heat and humidification system.

Raising white space temperature, even by a few degrees, can help data centers realize decreased electricity usage as well as reduced costs.

Tips by provider:

  • Cloud, co-location and multi-tenant providers can take advantage of software for centralized Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) to help manage and monitor all processes and equipment in any data center. Application-specific DCIM actually provides a more comprehensive solution that is customized for cloud and co-location facilities. It provides facilities, IT and CXOs with detailed, real-time analytics, risk awareness, data center capacity management and operation status to initiate automated actions or recommend manual actions, helping them optimize IT performance, identify and eliminate zombie servers and decrease downtime. Application-specific DCIM for co-location centers also provides insight into usage and availability on the tenant level, to enable capabilities like detailed chargeback for power and integrated tenant billing and support.
  • Data centers with multiple tenants can conduct capacity planning and monitoring to mitigate both financial and operational risk. This allows operators to recognize and recover stranded capacity, driving efficiencies in on-boarding and off-boarding clients, recovering lost revenue, and shortening investment payback periods. Proper capacity planning and monitoring also helps prevent overloading and overselling capacity, ensuring reliability and a positive client experience.
  • Co-location providers can implement scalable power and cooling equipment to avoid over-sizing. This can easily be done by implementing high-voltage distribution through 415/240V AC power distribution. Along with variable-speed drives on pumps and chillers, this will improve power and cooling efficiency at partial load and on cool days.

The future of co-location, multi-tenant and cloud data centers

It’s clear the move to the cloud and virtualized data centers and the increased demand for co-location and hosted facilities is only going to continue to increase.

One of the most important goals for multi-tenant, co-location, cloud, and hosted facilities is to maximize their space and operational cost effectively. As such energy efficiency needs to be an integral part of the process starting from the planning and continuing through the entire life cycle of the data center.  It is possible to optimize existing spaces and gain some advantages and certainly planning a new build with energy “wise” strategies can be a big part of a successful data center.

Joe Reele is vice president, Data Center Solutions Architects for Schneider Electric.