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Joining the White House’s Better Buildings Challenge

November 18, 2014

We’re excited to have recently signed on to participate in the Better Buildings Challenge, a White House-led initiative to reduce power consumption recently expanded under the President’s Climate Action Plan. The program, originally announced in 2011, was expanded to include data centers in September 2014.

The goal of the Better Buildings Challenge is for commercial buildings to become 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020.

Digital Realty’s goal is to reduce non-IT load energy consumption by 20 percent across a group of its U.S. properties.

The need to make data centers more efficient According to Datacenter Dynamics, there are nowmore than 3 million data centers in the U.S. alone – one data center for every 100 Americans.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality has estimated that data centers accounted for more than 2 percent of all U.S. electricity consumption in 2013, or about 100 billion kilowatt-hours. Usage doubled just between 2000 and 2005, according to Jonathan Koomey, a leading expert on energy use in data centers and IT.

In a recent press release, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz noted that: “…if all data centers were 20 percent more efficient, the nation could save more than 20 billion kWh of electricity by 2020, which would result in roughly $2 billion in cost savings.”

We recognize that adopting more efficient power usage practices in the data center can have a meaningful positive impact for the environment, our clients, and for Digital Realty.

Three methods to improve energy efficiency

We expect to focus on projects in these three areas:

  1. “No cost” improvements: Fine tuning set points and controls to maximize system efficiency. For example, by making adjustments to maximize the use of outside air (i.e., “free cooling” systems) we can reduce the energy needed to operate mechanical cooling systems.
  2. “Low cost” improvements: Working with clients to install hot or cold aisle containment to eliminate air “short cycling,” and utilizing variable airflow air handling systems to optimize airflow energy requirements. Energy can be saved by addressing aisle arrangements that minimize the mixing of hot and cold air, as well as moving air more efficiently to cool IT devices.
  3. Capital projects: Replacement or upgrade of older, less efficient infrastructure with highly efficient equipment that improves performance while reducing energy consumption.

It’s our goal to provide our clients with data center solutions that deliver industry-leading resource efficiency, increase client value, and a lower cost of ownership.

We look forward to participating in this important energy initiative.

David Schirmacher, SVP Portfolio Operations

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