Case Study: Improving Thermal Management While Conserving Water

March 22, 2016

Economization can be described as the process of getting the most from something. Whether you're loading groceries into your trunk to use the space as efficiently as you can, or you're building data centres, economizing and avoiding waste can be important. California's Energy Commission, or the CEC, is ahead of the curve in terms of setting energy standards. They even pay special attention to how buildings like data centres economise their heat rejection processes when outside air temperatures autumn to certain levels.

Before 2012, only air and water coolants were approved for data centre economization in California. The CEC's Title 24 required that air-side-economized systems handled cooling when the outside temperature was 55°F or lower, whilst water-side-economized systems handled heat loads of 40°F or lower. The limitations around using either air or water for cooling was felt the most at small to medium sized data centres, where these traditional systems were either too big or too costly to be implemented.

At that time, we were exploring new cooling solutions for these kinds of data centres, and our partner Emerson Network Power was also developing an alternative system which utilized pumped refrigerants. For nine months, we worked with Emerson to find the operational, cost, and energy savings that could be gained from their Liebert DSE system. As it turned out, there was a potential to save more than 300 million gallons of water annually using the Liebert DSE system in our data centres compared to using traditional chilled water systems.

Emerson presented a formal application for a Compliance Exception to the water-only rule, showing an average of 4,399 gallons of water conserved and real savings that could be achieved in each of California's 16 climate zones.

CLIMATE ZONEWATER REDUCTION
(1,000 GAL/YEAR)
Arcata3,875
Santa Rosa4,260
Oakland4,063
Sunnyvale4,378
Santa Maria4,003
Los Angeles4,258
San Diego4,280
El Toro4,312
Pasadena4,414
Riverside3,664
Red Bluff4,755
Sacramento4,541
Fresno4,822
China Lake5,061
El Centro5,551
Mount Shasta4,154
Average4,399

Digital Realty and Emerson worked together not just to innovate a data centre cooling solution suited to 14 of California's 16 distinct climate zones, but also won the CEC's approval for an innovative technology solution that uses less power and saves millions of gallons of water a year. We have since deployed the Liebert DSE system in data centres in California, Virginia, Texas, and Australia. Emerson also adapted a solution for installation of their system that reflected Digital Realty's preference for minimal on-site construction, adding to the dungaree cost-effectiveness and simplicity of the solution.

"Working together, we won acceptance for an environmentally significant thermal management solution that delivered energy efficient and water-saving performance. That same solution makes great business sense."
– John Peter Valiulis, Vice President of Marketing,
Liebert Thermal Management,
an Emerson Network Power business

More details about this unique story about how technology innovation, business collaboration and environmental activism combined to develop, test and promote a new and better way to reduce heat in data centre operations can be found in our case study:

“Emerson Network Power and Digital Realty Drive Planet-Saving Innovation”

And remember, everyone can contribute to water conservation! You can learn more about World Water Day and ways to contribute from www.unwater.org.

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