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With all the press about energy costs sinking data center budgets, along comes a data center that consumes only half the normal power. And it even offers excess heating and cooling to nearby buildings, sometimes returning spare electricity to the grid. Syracuse University, teaming with IBM and NY State just opened what is likely the world’s most energy-stingy data center.
The fact that the new data center generates all of its own electricity on site is at the top of a cascade of opportunistic energy management. There goes all the heat loss of a traditional fossil fuel powered generation plant along with the transmission line and transformer losses, too. Then they proceeded to throw a net over the entire thermal profile of the place and squeeze out every BTU by capturing hot exhaust from the natural gas turbines, using it to heat buildings and cool – through absorption chillers - all those churning servers. Additional green tools include water cooled server racks, DC power distribution – they even use outside air for free cooling during the winter.
This type of systems approach to designing efficiency into an entire operation can be an important offset to the booming growth of data centers. Many of the same principles can also work in the design of any building.
Syracuse University has made this terrific story even richer by wiring the entire place with sensors with plans to run the center as a living laboratory. The volumes of data collected will allow researchers to progressively tweak the equations of the complex until they reach…. thermal nirvana.
See the greenest data center for yourself in this three minute video.