New Tools from The Green Grid

Julius Neudorfer
The Green Grid consortium has announced that it's developing some shiny new tools to help data centers measure their energy efficiency using its now widely touted PUE metric.

Announced at the Third Annual Green Grid Technical Forum held in San Jose Feb. 3-4 where Robert Kennedy Jr. delivered the keynote address, the new tools are a:

Power Efficiency Estimator: The new Power Efficiency Estimator is designed to help data center operators compare different scenarios of power topologies and technologies inside of their facility. It takes factors such as workload, availability and space constraints into consideration and generates a report designed to improve decision-making in a facility. The Power Efficiency Estimator will be available by the end of the first quarter of 2010.

PUE Calculator: The new PUE Calculator allows data center operators to easily input their facility's specific data at regular intervals to determine their PUE. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), a metric created by The Green Grid, determines the amount of energy used by the facility and the IT gear inside of it. The PUE Calculator will be available by the end of the first quarter of 2010.

These tools have been announced, but no other specific details were provided and they are not scheduled to be released until later this year. However until then, an existing 'Free Cooling Calculator" is publicly available, which is a great resource to help evaluate and encourage the increased use and installation of economizers for data centers.

In addition, the Green Grid is in the process of developing a new metric, Energy Reuse Factor (EFR), to measure and encourage those Data Center sites that use energy recovery systems and technologies. This may help promote reusing the wasted heat energy to such tasks as heating buildings and water. Up until now this has been an obvious (and one of the simpler methods), but an almost totally ignored area of energy recovery and efficiency. This is primarily due to the added complexity (and responsibility) of being able re-direct the heat to the nearby or adjacent buildings in the colder climates, but then having to redirect the heat output to the cooling towers in the warmer weather. By having the Green Grid create a metric it helps quantify the savings and legitimatize the practice.

Moreover, they also introduced a new book titled 'Real Time Energy Consumption Measurements in Data Centers' that focuses on energy consumption measurements that was done in conjunction with ASHRAE.

As the Environmental Protection Agency's  Energy Star for Data Centers program discovered, only a small percentage of data centers have any valid basic energy measurement systems to calculate their energy efficiency, and therefore have no way to see how to any changes made could result measureable improvements. The EPA Energy Star for Data Centers Program is somewhat different than The Green Grid's PUE metric, and both organizations are trying to work together to come up with a unified approach.

So until the new tools are released, don't just sit there. You will still need to start planning to install the basic power monitoring equipment (current and voltage transformers) in your main power panels to provide real-time measurements of  the total energy going into your data center, and perhaps even in the major components of your cooling systems, as well. In addition, you will need an energy monitoring and management system to make the information collected useful. They are many vendors, some new and some well established, all offering their energy management solutions.

As Kermit the Frog says, 'It's not easy being Green." But it is far more costly to ignore the fact that in the 24x7 world of data centers, every kilowatt saved results is 8,760 KWH per year, and that is a lot of dollars wasted and extra hydrocarbons burned.

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