Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

5 Essentials to Greening the Data Center: A Growing Number of Districts Are Overhauling Their Data Centers to Conserve Energy and Cash. Here's a Primer on the Most Important Elements of Any Sustainability Effort

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

5 Essentials to Greening the Data Center: A Growing Number of Districts Are Overhauling Their Data Centers to Conserve Energy and Cash. Here's a Primer on the Most Important Elements of Any Sustainability Effort

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A 2008 STUDY BY THE management-consulting firm McKinsey & Co, projected that the world's data centers would surpass the airline industry in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Certainly adding to those emissions are K-12 districts, whose data centers hold the equipment that serves as the backbone for an ever-growing number of computing initiatives. Inevitably, the dramatic rise in K-12 technology use in recent years has given way to soaring energy usage and power bills in many districts.

"These data centers are needed to support 21st century education," acknowledges Jim Maclay, director of energy services for LPA, an Irvine, CA-based design firm with expertise in K-12 sustainability issues. But that doesn't mean data centers have to be wasteful, he says. "They can be designed in a way that both reduces the harmful effects of fossil fuel-based energy consumption and doesn't put a burden on the operating budget."

The good news is that many K-12 school districts are recognizing their data centers as fertile ground for energy and cost savings and are taking steps to improve their energy efficiency. In CDW-G's annual survey of IT energy efficiency, 77 percent of K-12 respondents indicated that they have or are planning a data center consolidation strategy at their school or district. Among the educators who said that their institutions have taken these measures, 63 percent reported energy savings of 1 percent or more.

Of course, not all energy-saving plans are created equal; some greening measures clearly rise to the top of the list of best practices. We talked to energy experts and district IT directors who have undertaken data-greening efforts, and from these conversations we were able to identify five essential elements to any data center greening initiative.

If your district has not yet begun a data center redesign, then the following guidelines can help you get started on a plan. Even if your district is on its way to a greener data center, taking a Iook at these essential elements may help ensure you're not missing steps integral to achieving strategic energy and cost savings.

ELEMENT 1: Measuring Usage

Management guru Peter Drucker is credited with saying, "What gets measured gets managed," and it's no less true in data centers than it is in corporate boardrooms. While CDW-G's annual survey reveals that many schools and districts report taking steps to overhaul their data centers, it also tells us that 88 percent of respondents said they are not tracking their data centers' power usage effectiveness (PUE). This means that many districts don't know how much energy their data centers are actually using--even the districts that have energy-saving plans in place.

"If you don't have any idea how inefficient you are, you don't know where to start," points out Gary Markowitz, president of Kilojolts Consulting Group, an energy-management consulting firm based in Lexington, MA.

Markowitz says that data center overhaul efforts must begin with baseline energy-usage measurements, and then incorporate strategies for continuous tracking of energy consumption throughout the process. His group is one of many to offer toolkits for tracking energy consumption. [See "Tools for Tracking Energy Usage," right.] In addition, the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Energy offer initiatives through their joint Energy Star program to assess data center improvements.

Without such information, it becomes harder to justify expenses toward data center greening, notes Rich Kaestner, green computing project director at the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN), a professional association for K-12 technology leaders that offers its own web-based tool for estimating annual kilowatt-hours used and related costs.

The point about measurement isn't lost on Art Stellar, superintendent at Burke County Public Schools in Burke County, NC, which has been named an Energy Star Leader by the EPA and Department of Energy because of its efforts in energy conservation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.