Making Data Centers Efficient – How the DOE DCEP program can help you!

Making Data Centers Efficient – How the DOE DCEP program can help you!

Making Data Centers Efficient – How the DOE DCEP program can help you! 2500 729 Enabled Energy
Executive Summary

With over 3,000,000 data centers in the United States using about two percent of the nation’s energy, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) took action to make sure that these centers were as energy efficient as possible. One solution was the development of a comprehensive training and certification program that recognizes individuals that can help save energy in your data center(s). The “Data Center Energy Practitioner” or DCEP program selects professionals that have the pre-requisite data center knowledge and can demonstrate their understanding and use of the principles and tools developed for the program. By following the practices prescribed in the DCEP program, the DOE has reported that data centers can reduce utility costs from 20% to 40% or more and have a very high ROI! With the DOE tools and the help of a DCEP, you can:

  • Save time
  • Avoid missteps
  • Save money
  • Be assured that the approach is time tested and supported by the DOE
  • Uncover the opportunities that you may be overlooking
  • Get synergistic results!
  • Use the information to plan a comprehensive program that you develop all at once or through a phased approach
  • Assemble a scope of work for your consultants and suppliers to help support your efforts
What Can This Program Do For You?

We are so sure that the results of the approach outlined in this article will help you identify and obtain significant energy savings that we will help you develop a mini-master plan for one of your data centers for a special price – just $3500. In this way, you can obtain more information about the program and see if it is valuable to you and can make your data center(s) more efficient. We guarantee it! If you don’t like it, you don’t pay us.

This article provides an overview of the DOE programs and how the DCEP program and these recognized professionals can help data center owners, operators, and managers make the best decisions to make substantial gains in efficiency.

Background

As the DOE was developing the programs for data center energy efficiency, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) was assigned the task of evaluating the potential energy savings opportunities in existing data centers and to find out how much of the potential savings were being obtained from various projects. They evaluated many data center energy efficiency programs created for numerous data centers and analyzed the approach and results.

Many Data Centers Tried Different Approaches to Reduce Energy Consumption

Some data centers focused on lighting programs, some worked on chiller efficiency, some got higher efficiency IT equipment, others used high efficiency UPS units, while still others looked at reducing fan energy. While some centers combined the solutions and got better results, others found out that focusing only on one or a few pieces of the puzzle caused problems in other areas. Through it all, the key to getting significant savings was the ability to look for synergistic opportunities with the projects. The goal of the DOE was to look at developing the best approach.

Figure 1 - DOE Energy Efficiency Opportunities
LBNL Recommendations

The result of LBNL’s analysis was the recommendation to develop a standardized approach to evaluate data center energy consumption so that recommendations from the whole spectrum of opportunities could be considered. From this, data center professionals could be assured of seeing the big picture before projects were prioritized and developed. Figure 1 shows one of the slides developed by the DOE to outline the potential savings opportunities.

The Development of the DCEP Program

This approach became the foundation for developing the tools and procedures for getting substantial data center savings. Many of the tools are free to access and use and can save a lot of time in the development of an energy efficiency project or a comprehensive program. However, even with all the tools, the hoped for results may not materialize. The big reason is that they take time to understand and apply to a particular data center. Luckily, there was another part of the solution.

To ensure that those responsible for developing energy efficiency programs could understand the tools and apply the requirements of successful programs, an extensive training program was developed. The purpose of the DOE program was to:

 …raise the standards of those involved in energy assessments of data centers to accelerate energy savings in data centers. The Program is driven by the fact that significant knowledge, training, and skills are required to perform accurate energy assessments in data centers.”

The resulting DCEP program has high requirements for those wishing to be certified in each level of the program. Once a person has met the education and experience requirements, a candidate must demonstrate familiarity of the tools and the capability of applying the core principles of the program for their clients or organization.

Enabled Energy’s Commitment to Our Clients

Enabled Energy has had numerous members of their teams maintain the DCEP certification because we wanted to make sure that our clients knew that the recommendations, we provide to our clients are based on the best practices in the field (we have one of the very first “graduates” from the program). And now, as of January of 2019, every one of our technical support team has received one or more DCEP certifications. We continue to look for ways to make our services valuable to our clients and to continue providing award winning energy savings programs!

Application of the Principles

If you are looking to make your data center more efficient, it is recommended that you complete an initial analysis of your facility with some of the available tools, as recommended by the DOE, so that you can see the types of projects that are recommended for your facility. Each of the following areas are covered in the initial analysis (typically requiring one to two hours depending on your facility):

  • Energy Management
  • IT Equipment
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Air Management
  • Cooling
  • IT Equipment Power Chain
  • Lighting
Results

At the conclusion of the initial analysis, you will be able to see the following:

  • Estimated PUE

The PUE metric stands for Power Usage Effectiveness. This has become the primary metric to determine the efficiency of a data center. The calculation is simple:

Facility Power  =  PUE
IT Power

If you have data available for your facility, you can use the actual data. If not, the software from the DOE can be used to estimate your PUE along with the estimated power distribution. This information is based on the information collected by you and your data center operations team.

For a test case, the PUE in Figure 2 was developed.  In this case, the PUE of 1.7 indicates that the amount of power to run all of the facility infrastructure support systems (i.e. non-IT) is about 70% of the power required to operate the IT Equipment. The DOE would like to see data center PUEs less than 1.2.

In addition to the overall PUE, the pie chart shows the estimated energy consumption distribution of the other energy consuming systems in your data center. This can be really important as it shows the relative energy consumption of each area so that you can see the relative impact of making changes to each of these areas.

Figure 2- Estimated PUE & Energy Use Distribution
Recommendations

As a result of the discussion about your data center, the DOE software will provide several recommendations such as the sample in Figure 3:

Figure 3 - Example of the Recommended Tasks Developed

Each of the recommendations can be reviewed so that you can talk about the potential challenges, applicability with your site, whether or not the projects have already been completed, etc. At the end of these discussions, Enabled Energy recommends that you create a simple mini-master plan that outlines the best recommendations for your data center.

Mini Master Plan

A mini master plan partial summary may look like the one in Figure 4.

Figure 4 - Partial Mini Master Plan Summary

By understanding the mini master plan along with the estimated costs and savings, a detailed implementation plan can be developed that selects and prioritizes projects, uncovers synergistic opportunities, evaluates possible utility rebate incentives, and develops a sound plan for improving your data center to take care of current and future operations efficiently. The master plan can also help you visualize what the savings could do for your PUE as shown in the example in Figure 5.

Figure 5 - Projected Impact of Projects on PUE
Summary

Data center energy savings can be substantial – and projects and programs may help you obtain additional savings from infrastructure improvements, operations savings, utility (non-energy) savings, qualify for rebates, maintenance savings, etc. If you’re looking for a simple way to start developing a comprehensive program, consider the tools available from the DOE and the assistance of certified DCEPs. Or, better yet, become a DCEP and help our industry do better things!

We’d Like to Help

As discussed earlier, Enabled Energy will help you put together a mini master plan, as outlined in this article, for $3,500. This may be an excellent and inexpensive way to understand the power of the DOE program and unlock tremendous savings opportunities in one of your facilities. For more information, please contact Enabled Energy, Inc. at 303.761.9890 or Email for more information.

There is no further commitment to us after the completion of the mini master plan. Our purpose is to introduce you to our services and to help spread the word about the DCEP program and how it may be able to help you. We hope that you can consider us for some of your future projects as you increase the efficiency of your facilities.

Sources:  ©2019 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | U.S. Department of Energy | Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) 
https://datacenters.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/DCProTools_09202016.pdf

About the Author

Paul Graves has extensive experience in all aspects of mechanical systems and energy management program development. He has been involved in energy projects for over 1,000 facilities.  Paul’s program development experience has included producing energy management master plans resulting from detailed equipment and system analysis, facility operations review, commissioning, recommissioning, retro-commissioning, infrastructure analysis, and management evaluations.  As an EE Fellow, Paul contributes to a variety of engineering projects and offers expert advice to the Enabled Energy’s team of engineers.

Paul and his wife currently live in Colorado.  They have 6 children and 8 grandchildren scattered across the country.  At home, they spoil their dog, Sadie.

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