Efficient mechanical and electrical systems are instrumental in creating data center energy savings, which can use up to 200 times more energy per square foot than standard offices. To determine how efficient a current mission critical facility’s mechanical and electrical systems were, RTM Engineering Consultants was brought in by an existing client for an analysis.
Recommendations for Energy Saving Solutions
Mission critical facilities have both primary and back-up systems for cooling the building. In this case, the facility was utilizing both systems concurrently, but neither were operating at its fullest potential. Through careful analysis, RTM recognized the issue and provided a solution that would increase the operating efficiency of the primary chilled water system while keeping the DX system in back-up mode.
If there are not proper means of containment to stop the hot and cold air from mixing in a data center’s computer room, the HVAC system works harder than necessary and expends more energy, increasing the cost to power the facility. RTM determined that the cold air in one area of the computer room was bypassing the computers, mixing with the hot air, and returning to the air handling unit without performing the intended cooling effect. To create a more energy efficient system, RTM advised the client to install a plastic curtain to channel the air through the computers and prevent the air from mixing.
Qualifying the Energy Savings
Part of the planning for this project included applying for one of ComEd’s Energy Efficiency programs. Prior to the start of the project, the team completed theoretical calculations of what the difference in energy would be, and when the results were presented to ComEd, they were accepted to participate in the incentives program.
RTM worked closely with the owner, the contractor and ComEd to create a measurement and verification plan to determine the energy savings with three data collection methods:
- ComEd installed data loggers to collect information every 15 minutes
- Information was gathered from the building automation system every 15 minutes
- Manual meter readings were taken daily for two weeks before the project began and two weeks after it was finished to measure the energy levels
Implementation of the air curtain system increased overall system efficiency and freed up some of the existing DX units to function as the back-up cooling system, as was originally intended. This resulted in direct energy savings and prevented the installation of additional air handling units to make up for lost efficiency.
In addition to the lifetime of energy savings, the client was awarded $68,000 in ComEd incentives. Because the project was such a success, the amount awarded was about double the anticipated conservative project estimation.