Data centres make up 3% of global energy consumption. The main reason behind data centres being major energy guzzlers is the IT processing power, which has increased substantially to meet the growing demand for IT services by the Indian business community. With more processing, power consumption goes up, resulting in higher energy bills.
In fact, data centres consume upto 10 times more per sqm than a commercial office building. In a country where stable electricity supply and generation is a chronic problem, the demand for 24/7 uninterrupted power supply and high-volume consumption will always be an ongoing challenge. With over 100 data centres in operation in India, there is a need to address this issue on a priority basis.
Existing data centres, in general, are designed to adapt to increase in demand of processing capacity over a period of time, but considerations on energy consumption is often overlooked, even though it accounts for more than half of the operational costs. Improving energy efficiency is the only feasible option. On an average, the energy consumption in a data centre is distributed as shown below:
Case Study: CtrlS Datacentre Mumbai
CtrlS, one of the leading data centre operators in Asia, has the distinction of having a Tier 4 data centre infrastructure in the country. Its vision to bring sustainability into its operations was evident in its commitment to achieve a green rating for its Mumbai facility.
At Conserve Consultants, we specialize in improving sustainable performance, and have overcome many challenges in iconic projects such as the Mumbai International Airport T2 Terminal. We took up the challenge of helping Ctrls Mumbai to achieve the world's first LEED v4 Platinum rating.
Team Conserve started work along with CtrlS operation team to first ascertain the benchmark of the data centre's current performance in energy, water and other sustainability indices. Our technical services team conducted a series of audits to find and bridge any gaps between the designed and actual performance in energy consuming areas such as IT equipment, HVAC systems, chillers, lighting, etc. A similar exercise was done across other areas like water, indoor air quality, waste materials, etc, based on which, important areas of improvement were identified and the roadmap for implementation defined.
On successful implementation of the audit findings, CtrlS achieved the highest score of 100 in Energy Star Portfolio, which equates to 20 points in LEED EB certification. Energy Star Portfolio is a measuring standard developed by US EPA (Environment Protection Agency), which honors projects based on their efficiency in energy over a period of time.
The Cooling System is one of the major guzzlers of energy in data centres, accounting for almost 28% of the entire electricity consumption. To create any meaningful energy saving outcome, it is important to address the cooling demand of the infrastructure since data centres operate 24/7 and 365 days.
Various areas of improvements such as operational, design enhancements and technology upgrades were identified and worked upon. Chiller specific power consumption, improving efficiency of the pumping systems, cooling tower effectiveness and its automation, resetting of controls and their set points, installation of a thermal storage system to take advantages of time of day tariffs, and syncing the same with the data center computing were worked upon. This led to a savings of around 15 lakhs kWh/ annum (an operational cost saving of almost ₹1.5 crore).
All the fluorescent light fixtures in and around the building were replaced with mercury-free LED lights, which resulted in savings of 0.5 lakh kWh/annum (cost saving of ₹5 lakhs/year). Auto-switch lightning systems, which are triggered by the access card swipe action, were installed, which resulted in saving of ₹1.6 lakh kWh/annum (cost saving of ₹16 lakhs/year). All units of equipment were metered to the centralized monitoring unit to monitor usage of electricity and report any anomalies in case of excess usage.
Additional Sustainability Features
It is equally important to look at other areas of improvement to make data centre operation as eco-friendly as possible. All water fixtures in the building were changed to water saving fixtures, which resulted in savings of 5 kl water per day, which is a 24% reduction in the overall water requirement. We also set up a special rainwater treatment facility to store natural water during the rainy seasons. All the landscapes are carefully cultivated with local natural species of flora and fauna for minimal water requirement.
To improve productivity, indoor air quality was addressed and adequate fresh air circulation through strategic ventilation points was created to achieve levels above the base line of Ashrae Standard 62.1 for fresh air requirement. To create awareness amongst the employees, we conducted an extensive training program on the importance of incorporating green compliance features, and we stressed on the need to manage and sustain all the measures taken in reducing energy consumption and environmental commitments, over the long term.
The following energy pie chart shows the difference in the before and after scenarios. About the author
Mamta Rawat is USGBC LEED accredited and IGBC AP & BEE-certified Energy Manager with over 7 years of experience. She has executed LEED facilitation in over 30 organizations and energy audits and implementation in 60+ projects.