Inside an Energy Efficient Data Center

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print

Emerson Electric’s 35,000-square-foot global data center is 31 percent more energy efficient than traditional data centers, a setup that promises substantial cost savings.

See also: Business Value Powers Green IT, Cooling Data Center Costs

Emerson Electric, a $20.9 billion technology manufacturer, offers a glimpse of the future of green IT. The firm’s 35,000-square-foot global data center, located at its St. Louis headquarters, is 31 percent more energy efficient than traditional data centers, and it is home to Missouri’s largest solar array—a 7,800-square-foot rooftop array with more than 550 solar panels.

The $50 million state-of-the-art facility has already earned two high-profile industry awards for environmental responsibility: LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and a 2009 Beyond Green High-Performance Building Award from the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council. More importantly, it’s trimming energy costs by $5 million annually.

The LEED certification is extraordinarily rare for a data center. In fact, Emerson’s data center is one of only a handful of buildings in the United States that have reached this level of recognition. 

Emerson earned 40 out of a possible 51 points to receive LEED Gold certification. Yet, according to Keith Gislason, IT strategic planner at Emerson, the company never compromised reliability. “That was entirely out of the question,” he says.

What makes Emerson’s facility unique? The firm installed a sophisticated power-monitoring system that can track and manage electrical use down to individual receptacles. It also constructed the building for maximum modularity: Emerson can easily triple the power infrastructure of the building and expand to 3.6 megawatts of total capacity. 

In addition, there are the solar arrays, fiber (rather than copper) cabling and smart lighting systems. Finally, Emerson used advanced design and engineering methods to maximize cooling and reduce ventilation requirements. For example, the data center doesn’t require fans because there’s a clear path for air to move beneath servers.

Future data centers in Europe and Asia will tap into the same green methods, Gislason notes. “We are committed to being as green as possible,” he adds.

This article was originally published on 2010-08-13
Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.
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