Friday, January 27, 2012

Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance

Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance in Hong Kong Enchances the Energy Efficiency in Buildings

The Building Energy Efficiency Ordinance (Cap. 610) will come into full operation on 21 September 2012. The purpose of this ordinance is to enchance the energy efficiency in buildings by means of regulating the building services installations including lighting, electrical, air-conditioning and lift & escalator installations of prescribed buildings in new construction and in major retrofitting works to comply with the minimum energy efficiency standards and requirements specified in Building Energy Code (BEC). Moreover, the Ordinance also requires the central building services installation in commercial building and in a portion of a composite building that is for commercial use to conduct the energy audit in accordance with Energy Audit Code (EAC) in Hong Kong.

Data centers consume large amounts of energy and require many investments of significant financial resources to continue operations. To facilitate data center professionals fulfill the requirements of the Ordinance, Strategic Media Asia (SMA) has recently launch a series of technical seminar in Energy Efficient Data center and Green Data Center Design which cover general data center design standards, TIA-942 and Tier, Facilities Management (E&M) System, EU Green Data Center Design Standard, Data Center Cost and Energy Management. For more training and event detail, please visit


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Direct Current (DC) for Data Center: You can save more

It was also the year that direct current (DC) took a back seat to alternating current (AC) after Niagara Falls Power Company chose AC transmission for its power plant. Although we live in an AC-dominated world, DC seems poised for a comeback, particularly in data centers. Facebook adopted a DC architecture in its Prineville, Ore., data center. SAP spent $128,000 retrofitting a data center at its offices in Palo Alto, Calif., to rely on DC power. In 2010 it cut SAP’s energy bills by $24,000 per year.

ABB, the Swiss-Swedish conglomerate, bought a controlling interest last year in Validus DC Systems, which specializes in DC data center equipment. ABB also opened a factory in North Carolina to produce HVDC (high voltage DC) equipment for delivering power from solar and offshore wind farms to the grid. The Tres Amigas “superstation” will rely heavily on HVDC.

General Electric, meanwhile, bought Lineage Power, which produces DC equipment, and it has talked about using DC to power mining shovels and other heavy-duty equipment.

Nextek Power Systems and the EMmerge Alliance are also promoting DC as a way to cut power in buildings.

Behind the DC drive

What’s driving it? Although AC became the standard for electronic transmission, DC didn’t disappear. It just hid. Servers, large numbers of electric motors, batteries, even ships and airplanes run on DC. Solar panels produce DC power. Wind turbines can produce AC or DC power, but the extreme variability of wind power means that electricity generated by turbines has to pass through battery banks before it gets to the grid. As a result, wind farms are effectively DC.

The landline telephone system runs on DC too, notes Brian Fortenberry, a program manager at the Electric Power Research Institute.

To solve the mismatch, a whole industry of AC-DC converters has been developed. National Semiconductor sells billions of dollars’ worth of chips to convert power. Inverters in the solar industry exist to convert DC from solar panels to AC that can run on the wires in your home.

In data centers, the AC-DC gymnastics top the charts. Typically, AC from the grid has to be stepped down in voltage so it can be routed safely in building equipment. Lower-voltage AC then gets converted to DC so it can go to an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). DC power from the UPS then gets converted to AC so it can go over the wires in the building. Then it gets converted back to DC. Usually five conversions, or steps, downward take place.

By converting grid AC at the door of a data center to medium-voltage DC or converting stepped-down AC to DC at the last possible moment, a data center can cut utility bills by 10 to 20 percent or more, according to Trent Waterhouse, the VP of marketing for power electronics at General Electric.

Validus and others have also eliminated some of the technological hurdles involved in transmitting via DC, namely the monster-sized copper cables.

The same dynamics work in buildings. In a retail establishment, DC power from solar panels could go directly to DC-powered LED lights with not-intermediate conversions that sap energy, according to Nextek. Perhaps not coincidentally, Redwood Systems, the lighting networking company, touts that its technology is actually an example of DC networking.

More savings comes in real estate. DC data centers require 25 percent to 40 percent less square footage than their AC counterparts, largely because computer equipment can connect directly to backup batteries.

In a hypothetical example, a 2.5-megawatt data center power module in the AC world might need 7,295 square feet, Ronald Ranaldi, the VP of sales at Validus, told me last year. An equivalent DC power module might occupy only 5,102 square feet, a savings of 2,193 square feet. What’s more, a single data center might consist of several 2.5-megawatt modules.

“Real estate is often greater than the energy savings,” says Ranaldi. “In large, green field data centers, you are literally eliminating buildings.”

DC won’t take over the world. And not everyone is sold. Google is not taking DC for its data centers in part because of the cost that would be involved in retrofitting their existing architecture. But it seems that an idea that was current when Grover Cleveland was in the White House and Japan was just adopting the Gregorian calendar could make a comeback.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Many Paths to the Green Data Center

The economics of data center power and cooling are hard to ignore.

According to's Jeff Rangel, data center power consumption stands at 1.3 percent of worldwide use, nearly three times what it was in 2000. That represents nearly 80 metric megatons of carbon emissions per year and is on pace to more than quadruple by 2020. In dollar terms, Gartner reports that the cost to cool a 25,000-square-foot data center now tops out at $4.1 million per year.

Clearly, something has to give to both the economic and political pressures that high-energy consumption entails. That's probably why we're seeing such a wide range of ever-more exotic solutions to the data center's green problem.

Facebook, for example, wanted to go big with its latest European facility, a set of three 300,000-square-foot behemoths that would have been a nightmare to cool in the warm, humid south. Instead, the company chose Lulea, Sweden, less than 100 km from the Arctic Circle. The site features ample supplies of hydropower and a climate that rarely exceeds 80 degrees F even at the height of summer. When opened in 2014, the center will consume about 120 MW in order to handle the traffic needs of users across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The Facebook facility is only one of a number of new constructs that were built with energy efficiency in mind. Apple claims that its new site in Cupertino will house its own power-generation system, relying on the grid for backup only, and that the abundance of trees on the property will actually make it carbon negative. At the same time, Google is investing heavily in wind energy production, a move that it hopes will eventually cut energy costs below today's largely coal-based infrastructure.

Energy conservation isn't just about new construction. Some organizations are learning how to use unwanted heat in productive ways. KPMG, for example, shuttles exhaust from a natural gas power plant in its New Jersey facility to a pair of giant absorption chillers that in turn feed cold air to equipment racks. This kind of co-generation system — both power and cooling from essentially the same source — is estimated to require 22 percent less fuel than a traditional electrical system and cuts carbon emissions by 2,200 tons per year.

Data centers, even green ones, will no doubt continue to consume significant amounts of energy for some time to come — that's just the nature of the technology. But as long as the industry can show continued improvement in energy conservation, both the economic and public relations dividends should be substantial.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Modular Data Centers Make Business and Environmental Sense

Pre-engineered and prefabricated data centers now make environmental and economic sense, according a report by environmental IT research consortium The Green Grid.

According to Deploying and Using Containerized/Modular Data Center Facilities, this new modular approach to the construction and deployment of a data centers can be rapidly deployed, have lower operating and capital costs, and be equipped with higher density and energy-savings targets than those data centers built using traditional methods.

As such buildings are pre-designed with energy efficiency in mind they often come equipped with a host of energy and money saving features, the report says. For instance, pre-fabricated data centers often have their heat loads closer to their cooling coils and are designed to handle wider temperature and humidity bands than other data centers, according to the report.

As modular data centers can be constructed faster than traditional ones, upfront capital costs can be reduced as well. Rather than build a center designed to handle whatever capacity may be needed in the future, companies using prefabricated data centers can expand the facility as and when increased capacity is required, the report says.

In October, it emerged that Allianz Global Investors of America was using IO’s IO Anywhere modular data center system.

Allianz said that by using the system it hoped to avoid the upfront commitment of a multiple megawatt power plan, resulting in significant operating and capital expense savings.

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Strategic Media Asia (SMA) provides any data centre and IT professionals with top level understanding of best practices in energy efficient data centre management from a series of accredited certificate courses and training seminars which focus on international green standard, financial and regulatory, facilities management, hardware management and software / system networks of Data Centre. For more informaiton, please visit the Program Page.