Tag Archives: Technology

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.

Energy Savings: the Data Are in the Details

Energy managers know that every commercial building is complex. The upside to that complexity is that many of these buildings offer large energy efficiency potential. Through identifying efficiency opportunities in thousands of commercial buildings to-date, we have confirmed a simple premise. A commercial building’s energy use data set is like a fingerprint: no two are exactly alike.

With that in mind, energy managers need a smart strategy for understanding and capturing efficiency opportunities. Here are a few tips:

1)     Don’t just look across the road – A recent slew of energy management tools suggest that energy managers can design energy efficiency strategies based on comparisons to buildings with a similar size and use-profile. Don’t be tempted to compare your efficiency achievements with building operators overseeing other properties.

Our research has shown that ‘like-building’ hypothesis may prove true for the residential sector or the smallest commercial buildings such as pizza shops. But for most of the commercial sector, even very similar buildings can have vastly different energy-use profiles, and it’s important to tailor your strategy accordingly.  Take for example the two buildings highlighted in the infographic below, both of which operate near Chicago with similar sizes, sources of heating/power, assets, and Energy Use Intensity. Their strong resemblance on the surface disappears with a deeper dive into the building’s true energy usage patterns.

While a “like-building” analysis using benchmarks or past databases might suggest that these buildings have similar opportunities, in fact, Building #1 has nearly twice the annual savings potential as Building #2.  It also has more operationally-focused energy conservation opportunities coming from lighting controls, HVAC/plug controls and cooling set points. In contrast, Building #2 would benefit most from a lighting retrofit, making its energy reduction opportunity more about asset improvements than about operational changes.

Looking even deeper, an even larger difference is noticed in how energy is used throughout the building. Cooling usage dominates Building #2 (48% vs. 18%), while Building #1 has more usage going to lighting and plug loads. These breakdowns are part of what drives the differences in recommendations.  It’s worth noting that these unique building results came from advanced analytics applied to their meter data, leading us to the next tip…

Every Building Has Its Own Story To Tell

If all buildings have their own story to tell, how can you effectively approach each and every one?

2)     Real data doesn’t lie – Greater availability of high frequency consumption data coming from commercial building utility meters, coupled with recent advancements in data analytics provides a completely new way to understand energy performance. This data is just as available as square footage and EUI, but much, much richer.  Using consumption data as a starting point for understanding your usage gets you to the source of energy (in)efficiencies. It is not uncommon for data analytics to uncover, for example, a simultaneous heating and cooling issue that a building operator is adamant doesn’t exist. That is, until he goes and double checks the air conditioning systems.  You can’t hide from what the data reveals.  Although it may be uncomfortable to see the truth,data and advanced analytics provide great insights into ways to save energy and money in your building.

3)     Go deep and be objective – not wide and subjective. Many energy efficiency initiatives start with an audit, so the quality of information gained from that step is critical. Sending in a team of people with hard hats and clipboards to record the minutiae of energy use, from how often the mechanical equipment is shut down to how many times the building automation system is manually overridden, may be the first choice. However, in some situations, it may not be the best. Besides being an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, those kinds of audits may be led by individuals with differing experience, motivation, and techniques.  Numerous studies have shown that onsite audits yield highly inconsistent results, mostly because it’s hard to make consistent auditors.

Think about audit partners that can strive for objective consistency each and every time they analyze a building. There are firms that can provide that level of deep and specific building detail without requiring all those boots on the ground. An even better approach may be to perform the analytics first and then provide those results to the energy audit team, therefore enhancing the overall process.

4)     Put your utilities on speed dial – It is becoming common knowledge that many utility companies have significant monetary incentives for increasing building energy efficiency. So, it’s time to take full advantage. Every commercial energy manager should know who runs the efficiency programs within their utility providers, and should be in regular touch to better understand their buildings’ energy use profiles and savings opportunities, and available incentives.

Like all relationships, however, the energy manager-utility relationship is a two-way street. The better data and insight that utilities have on your energy usage, the better job they can do to help you realize savings. As the infographic above contends, every commercial building in a utility’s portfolio is different, and you should look to partner with your utility to identify the right kinds of operational and asset-based cost savings opportunities.

5)     Go public. Making your buildings’ energy performance part of everyone’s business is, well, good business. Providing energy audit results to your constituents – from tenants’ facility personnel to your preferred energy contractors to your own CFO – is crucial in ensuring that efficiency projects don’t fall by the wayside.

Why is transparency so important? Because it enables you to demonstrate not just the hows of energy efficiency (e.g., turning off the lights at 6:00 p.m. will save 10,000 kWh of energy) but also thewhys (e.g., turning off the lights at 6:00 p.m. saved the company $1,500 in energy costs last month, enabling us to purchase better equipment for our staff or our tenants). Most important, making energy use and savings data available helps make a stronger business case for energy efficiency projects.

Every building has its own story to tell, and the plotline is in the detail revealed through analytics. Data that lives deep within the lighting, power, HVAC and water systems in every building should be mined, analyzed and presented in a way that shows the value that energy efficiency projects can unlock. By looking at each building’s unique energy fingerprint, you can find hidden opportunities for efficiency and cost savings without always having to putting on a hardhat.

Article By: Swapnil Shah is CEO of FirstFuel.

Federal Green Building Requirements

EPA first developed a green buildings vision and policy statement in 1995, and since then the Agency has endeavored to continue leading by example. The following federal statutes require EPA to build, renovate, operate, maintain, and use green buildings:

Executive Order (EO) 13514

EO 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance,” requires that starting in fiscal year (FY) 2020 federal buildings be designed to achieve “zero net energy”1 by FY 2030. It reiterates EO 13423’s requirement that new construction and major renovations meet the Guiding Principles, and that 15 percent of an agency’s existing buildings and leases meet the Guiding Principles by FY 2015. EO 13514 requires agencies to reduce energy, water, and material use through cost-effective strategies andoperations and maintenance (O&M) procedures, and to make annual progress toward 100 percent conformance with the Guiding Principles for their building inventories.

Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings (Guiding Principles)

In January 2006, EPA signed the Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), along with 21 other agencies, which voluntarily committed the Agency to follow the Guiding Principles set out in the MOU. TheGuiding Principles, last revised in December 2008, focus on the following five topic areas for both new construction and major renovations:

  1. Employ integrated design principles (new construction)/Employ integrated assessment, operation, and management principles (existing buildings)
  2. Optimize energy performance
  3. Protect and conserve water
  4. Enhance indoor environmental quality
  5. Reduce environmental impact of materials

While the 2006 MOU focused almost entirely on new building design and construction and major renovations, the December 2008 Guiding Principles revision established a new focus and promulgated new principles for transforming existing buildings into high performance sustainable buildings.

Download the Guiding Principles from the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program (DOE’s FEMP).

EO 13423

EO 13423, “Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” was the first executive order to require federal agencies to implement the Guiding Principles in all new construction and major renovation projects and in at least 15 percent of their existing building inventory (by number of buildings) by the end of FY 2015. In addition, it requires agencies to reduce energy intensity by 3 percent per year, or 30 percent by FY 2015 (compared to an FY 2003 baseline).

Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA)

EISA reinforces the energy reduction goals for federal agencies put forth in EO 13423 and introduces a set of more aggressive sustainability requirements. EISA Section 432 requires agencies to complete comprehensive energy and water evaluations at 25 percent of the agency’s “covered facilities”—major agency facilities that comprise at least 75 percent of the agency’s facility energy use—annually. EISA encourages agencies to implement and verify energy and water efficiency measures identified by these evaluations, and requires thatevery four years agencies reteurn to conduct recommissioning and look for new energy-saving opportunities.

EISA also requires new or renovated agency building designs to reduce fossil fuel-generated energy consumption compared to an FY 2003 baseline. The required reduction increases such that designs for new buildings or major renovations begun in FY 2030 must reduce fossil fuel-generated energy consumption by 100 percent, equivalent to using zero net energy,1 compared to an FY 2003 baseline. Starting in 2010, federal agencies are also required to lease space that has earned the ENERGY STAR® label in the most recent year.

Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005)

EPAct 2005 requires federal buildings to be designed to achieve energy consumption levels that are at least 30 percent below the American Society of Heating, Air Conditioning, and Engineering (ASHRAE) 90.1-2004 standard, and to apply sustainable design principles to the siting, design, and construction of all new and replacement buildings.

1 Zero net energy buildings produce, on average, as much energy as they use. EPA interprets zero net energy to encompass the following hierarchy: first, focus on efficiency technologies that reduce energy use as much as possible; second, examine the potential for and the cost-effectiveness of onsite energy generation to offset natural gas (e.g., ground source heat pumps) or provide electricity; and third, offset remaining electricity use with renewable energy purchases, if possible, through long-term green power or renewable energy certificate (REC) purchases.

Learn more: http://www.epa.gov/oaintrnt/projects/requirements.htm

The Delta Controls Difference

We have been partnering with Delta Controls since the early 90’s to provide tailored and custom solutions for your building of facilities. We wanted to take a few moments to highlight: …how Delta Controls isn’t just another controls company.


Delta Controls is the benchmark for controls manufacturers being one of the most respected organizations in our industry. The integrity, reliability, innovation and track record of Delta Controls differentiates us from the crowd. End-Users build their infrastructure around Delta Controls products, our Partner organizations and Delta Controls innovation. At the root of all this success is our people. They use technology to create products that are simple, yet powerful enough to inspire integration upon which infrastructures and businesses to be built. Delta Controls takes an ethical and long-term view to business and to relationships. We strive to continue to be the benchmark, to do it right and do the right thing by our customers, partners, employees and the environment we live in. This stance builds relationships, creates open partnerships and embraces open technologies, allowing freedom of choice to both end-users and partners alike.



At Delta Controls, the mantra Do It Right is the “how”. It is how we design, manufacture and support our products. It is how we serve our customers. It is how we treat our employees, partners and vendors. And it is how we view business in general and respect the planet we live on.

The company was founded by two partners, who sought a better way of doing business. More than 3 decades ago, they built their own product range, to ensure a customer’s needs were met when others had walked away. This same attitude inspired Delta to take and maintain its leading role in the development of the open BACnet protocol, as well as create the most robust line of BACnet products in the industry.
Everybody at Delta Controls knows what Do It Right means to them. Do It Right is a badge that employees wear with pride. It is a culture upon which innovation is created, businesses are built and long-term relationships are formed.


Our world is changing. The availability of our natural resources is being threatened. The conservation of energy is key to our future as the costs of supply rise each day. One company has consistently cared about our changing world. Not just in what it produces, but the way it conducts its business.
Long before creating Delta Controls, its co-founders realized the importance of saving energy. As consultants during the energy crisis of the 1970s, they conducted audits to help buildings save energy and money. Seeing a market need for products, they developed them, installed them, and reduced energy costs by up to 60% in customer’s buildings. Since 1980, they have been doing much the same thing the world over under the banner of Delta Controls.
Today, Delta Controls continues that philosophy. Our Earthright product features, Energy Dashboards and Apps to help customers reduce energy consumption. Our low carbon footprint HQ has natural ventilation, natural lighting and ground source heat pumps including 84 wells under the parking lot. We recycle all possible materials from our manufacturing facility and even our product packaging has green credentials. All our staff is encouraged to stay fit and healthy (using our gym and various evening classes). And everyone joins in the many charitable functions that make a contribution to making the world a better place.
Our environment is beautiful. Our energy resource is precious and it’s our responsibility to help it stay that way. Do it right with a green, responsible company producing energy saving solutions… an organization business leaders worldwide are proud to partner with.



Delta Controls believes that building owners and managers should be able to use the best technology for their buildings, no matter where it’s produced. This is why we have been on the leading edge of developing the open BACnet protocol from the beginning.
Delta Controls gives you the freedom to integrate. Whether you’re overseeing a small office building or a large university campus, you can control all your building functions—HVAC, lighting, access, CCTV and more. Delta Controls designed the first native BACnet access control and lighting system. Delta can seamlessly integrate systems from different manufacturers so that they talk to one another. With a BACnet system you’re not held captive by a proprietary system and are free to choose the best technology available that meets your particular requirements and budgets.
We believe that customers should be free to choose the product they wish rather than be handcuffed to a single manufacturer’s product offerings. BACnet Open Protocol systems give you this freedom of choice. At Delta Controls we have a world-wide network of Partner organizations that can serve you locally and understand your building and the application required to make your control system a success.



An integrated system, across HVAC, access control, lighting, CCTV etc saves you money. During installation, the number of networks can be reduced. The amount of project coordination, training, documentation and other duplicated effort is less.
Integrated systems have lower life cycle costs. Access control and occupancy detection can help reduce energy consumption. System maintenance routines can be reduced through cooperation between different customer departments. An understanding of a building’s processes will allow the Delta Controls Partner to create an efficient and thus economical system for end-users.
A choice of Partner promotes value for money to the customer. A good local relationship allows your chosen Partner organization to apply our flexible programming language and a wide range of HMI such as our 7” touch screen to suit the needs of your building.
Finally, our products last. Proven to be reliable and protect a client’s investment over the years. The Delta Controls system is scalable and flexible and will grow as your organization grows.

If you would like to learn more please visit: Delta Controls here or contact a Setpoint Systems Corporation Account manager here to talk about tailored solutions for your facility or building.

How can a building consume NO energy?

Office buildings are responsible for 19% of all commercial energy consumption in the United States, using almost one quadrillion (that’s a one followed by 15 zeros, folks) BTU per year.  I would convert that to dollars, but then this blog post would get entirely to big…  What if your building could consume ZERO BTU per year?  A Net Zero energy building consumes no net energy over the course of a year.  In other words, it sometimes consumes energy and sometimes generates energy, such that the net result balances out to zero.  Setpoint Systems was fortunate enough to be involved in constructing the largest Net Zero energy building in the world, which is the Research Support Facility (RSF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Research Support Facility (RSF)

Research Support Facility (RSF)

When the building was being designed, NREL initially requested that it consume only 25,000 BTU/ft² annually (this was an aggressive target as the average commercial office building in the U.S. consumes 97,200 BTU/ft²).  The team instead delivered a building which can produce as much energy as it uses–a net zero design.  How is this possible?  There are far too many details to cover here, but these are some of the techniques used:

  • Architecure allows for passive heating and cooling
  • Integrated high-efficiency lighting system with daylight and occupancy controls
  • Radiant thermal slabs for heating and cooling
  • Free cooling and heat recovery used in the building’s data center
  • Automatic windows for natural ventilation and nighttime pre-cooling
  • Demand control ventilation in open offices and conference rooms
  • 1.67 MW of photo-voltaic panels on the roof and associated parking structures
  • Fully integrated monitoring and control of HVAC, electrical, and data center systems

You may or may not be able to make your building net zero, but Setpoint Systems can use some of the same innovative integration and programming techniques from this project to help you save energy and money.   We can also provide ongoing high-quality training for you and your staff to help you maintain and operate your systems more efficiently.  For example, the staff at NREL have attended 94 of our training sessions for a total of 1,320 hours of instruction.  The value of this training would be nearly $40,000, but Setpoint Systems provides these classes FREE for the life of the customers’ system.

Visit us online at: www.setpointsystems.com