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California Data Centers Expect to Cut Energy Usage By 75 Percent

Twelve sites are being equipped with an RFID-enabled temperature-monitoring system from Federspiel Controls, following a successful pilot involving the state's Franchise Tax Board.
By Claire Swedberg
If a sensor detects a temperature exceeding an acceptable threshold, the Federspiel Controls software determines the response, based on the specific temperature measured and the tag's location. For example, a specific chiller may need to increase its fan speed or increase its flow of cold water, and that would need to be accomplished by a specific percentage based on that temperature reading. The system then instructs that chiller's VFDs to adjust those settings accordingly. The software can also alert staff as to the changes in settings, and they can continue to monitor the response and ensure that temperature drops appropriately in accordance to the adjusted settings.

"We took that success and began working with the Department of General Services," says Mark Housley, CEO of Federspiel Controls. In late 2009, Federspiel made the proposal to install the DASH system, consisting of Dust Technologies hardware and its own software, at 12 more data centers operated by state agencies. By the end of the year, he says all 12 sites will be completed.


Mark Housley, CEO of Federspiel Controls
Each data center is different and requires planning, Housley says. "These are 24/7 operations, so we do these installations with a lot of care and deliberation." Because each center has a different physical lay-out, the company must determine the most effective location of each tag to collect temperature data throughout the room, as well as determine whether to have the software respond to temperature changes by automatically adjusting fan speeds and water flow or by alerting staff and allowing them to change settings manually on coolers or other equipment. "Each installation is unique. We see different rack configurations, different combinations of DX units, or chilled-water units," he says.

Most of the installations will include 50 to 200 sensor modules, some with racks that have doors, and others without, although the tags can transmit through the doors, Housley says. The tags can also be linked to other sensor data beyond temperature such as air pressure, humidity, or in the case of the chillers, the water flow. Federspiel configures the beacon rate of the tags.

Housley says he expects energy usage at all the California agencies' data centers to drop by about 75 percent, as a result of the DASH deployments.

At the Franchise Tax Board, for example, "the peak energy usage before the DASH system was installed was around 59 kilowatts," says Durborough. "The kilowatt usage with the DASH installed varies from 19 to 15." These readings were taken off an E-mon D-mon electric meter, he says, which is monitoring that usage.

"The project is expected to save the tax board $42,700 per year by reducing energy consumption," says Durborough.

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