Aug 14, 2019 | Trends, Industry

Energy Best Practices for Data Centers

Are you using best practices in your facility?

Energy usage is a hefty budget item for large and small data centers. A major trend in data management is moving to the cloud. Small and large businesses that had in-house infrastructure and only used the cloud for back up and data recovery are now moving operational applications to the cloud. Even customers with remaining capacity in their data centers are moving to the cloud for cost savings, hardware savings, increased security and pay as you go services. Operations with legacy applications are seeking hybrid solutions as an affordable alternative to equipment replacement. These trends mean data center required capacity is expanding to meet these demands. And as they expand, energy usage goes up.

Data centers require an enormous amount of energy for computer equipment and associated cooling, making energy management and conservation measures one of the highest priorities for a data center manager.  It is no longer as simple as selecting the best piece of equipment or turning out the lights when everyone goes home.  In new construction or expansion of an existing facility, it is becoming increasingly critical to define a strategy around energy efficiency measures. Solutions such as thermal optimization, installation of vfds (variable frequency drives) and containment rack and row design can have tremendous impact on energy usage.

Energy Conservation Measures

In existing buildings with existing equipment, Albireo’s approach begins with monitoring temperatures by adding wireless sensors and then feeding the information back to enhanced control systems to manage cooling more efficiently.  They optimize the chiller plant by adding VFDs (variable speed drives) and ECMs (electronically commutated motors) and finding partial and free cooling. Where possible, Albireo looks for air side free cooling.

By compiling and analyzing the retrieved data from enhanced controls and automated fault detection and diagnostics, Albireo works to make sure that the right temperature air is in the right space.

Developing Your Strategy

The process of identifying the best measures that will have the most impact starts with utility bill analysis. Albireo will determine current energy usage for the site. Then after a review of the goals and objectives of the company, Albireo will conduct an energy audit that includes inventory of existing equipment and its condition. Using the information gathered, they will develop an energy conservation measures scope and deliver a proposal that includes costs of the measures, results of an Energy Rebate investigation, and an estimated ROI. Recommissioning and an Energy Procurement Strategy are all part of Albireo’s recommended process. Albireo will present the scope of work along with the financial solution that best suits the site.

For one data center that was near capacity solely serving the company’s IT needs, Albireo developed a program to change the control strategy of the data room. New wireless temperature sensors were installed to further turndown existing VFDs and control chilled water valves to reduce chilled water valve usage.  This simple solution resulted in a projected 3,000,000 kWh annual savings. The ROI was projected to be 18 months but with local rebates, the ROI was reduced to 12 months.


There is increasing interest in having systems recommissioned after significant changes in the facility. Recommissioning is also complimentary when changes to controls are implemented, or when there are updates to software; or after installation of a new piece of equipment to ensure that performance results continue to meet goals. Recommissioning equipment can often uncover any hidden issues that could be restricting energy performance.

Energy Rebates

Rebates are specific to the state or the utility of the region. Albireo uses a national database to research codes and incentives available for the building. After completing the research and determining the rebates and incentives appropriate for the building, Albireo will manage the rebate process, filling out applications correctly and walking the client through the administrative requirements and steps that each program requires.

Once energy rebates are maximized, there are financing solutions available. Albireo will determine a best pathway selecting from third party leases, utility on-bill funding, service contracts and Infrastructure as a Service.

Energy Procurement Strategy

There can be significant savings in the structure of the contract with the energy provider.  The first step in developing an energy procurement strategy begins with understanding your spend and your load. Albireo will determine the rate that you are spending per kWh. Then based on the efficiency measures being installed; define how the center will be drawing load. With this information, they will find the best supplier with the best possible rate that will ensure the budget is being met.

Unfortunately, there is no one place to gain knowledge of energy procurement methodologies, so the best process is to find a good partner that will educate as well aid in securing an appropriate contract.

A well planned strategy can save you time and money. Partnering with a firm that has the depth of knowledge and experience that Albireo brings to the table can take your strategy to the next level.

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