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Data-Center Energy-Management System Reduces Costs Associated With HVAC

Aug. 1, 2012
Two-decades-old facility earns LEED certification

To better meet the needs of local businesses and to draw new business from outside of the state, Tech Vault Inc., provider of data-center, colocation, private-cloud, disaster-recovery-hosting, and managed services, set out to turn a 20-year-old building in South Burlington, Vt., into a world-class, green data-center facility.

To create a design consistent with its energy-efficiency goals and logistical and financial requirements, Tech Vault turned to Schneider Electric, global specialist in energy management; Leading Edge Design, an APC by Schneider Electric Elite Data Center partner; and Efficiency Vermont, which it chose to oversee the design/build aspects of the project.

The Right Tools
Tech Vault opted to install APC InRow cooling racks with rack-row containment, which provides direct cooling capacity and redundancy to each rack in the data center. Additionally, the rack-row containment allows for near-100-percent information-technology (IT) heat recovery at the source. This approach to cooling cuts back on the amount of HVAC distributed in the data center, resulting in an increase in energy efficiency of up to 30 percent.

Tech Vault also invested in renewable-energy solutions and was able to take advantage of the cold Vermont winter climate to naturally chill hot water from the data center with outside air. To do this, the design team installed dry coolers on the roof of the building, further reducing operational costs associated with cooling.

In addition to single solutions used to control HVAC and other power equipment, Tech Vault has incorporated Schneider Electric’s holistic EcoStruxure approach, which integrates various components of the facility, including power, white space, process and machines, building control, and security. Adding to this approach, Schneider Electric’s Andover Continuum hardware/software control system monitors and manages the data center in its entirety. A power-usage-effectiveness (PUE) chart and data collection are designed into the Andover Continuum software, which allows Tech Vault to monitor PUE Category 2 and take a snapshot for any given time range, including hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly. With this, data-center managers can further hone energy efficiency around HVAC and other components by understanding the behavior of the entire facility.

Other solutions include centralized management of critical physical equipment with Infrastruxure Central, Square D electrical switchgear, and NetBotz Internet-service-provider-based environmental monitoring.

LEED Certification
During design, Tech Vault worked closely with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) commissioning experts. Tech Vault began its final commissioning process in October 2010 and was awarded LEED Silver certification in 2011, a remarkable honor for a data center housed in a two-decades-old, retrofitted facility.

Future Expansion
In late 2010, Tech Vault opened the facility with several customers, including hospitals, health-care providers, and software companies. The data center has the capacity to house more than 147 IT, power-distribution-unit, and InRow cooling racks, with the ability to expand.

Tech Vault follows the philosophy of, “Heat only what you need to heat, cool only what you need to cool, and light only what you need to light.” With the help of these solutions, the company can implement an efficient strategy that monitors energy use so the company is improving continually and adjusting cooling, heating, and lighting based on power need.

Information courtesy of Schneider Electric.

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