“It is not possible to manage what you cannot control, and you cannot control what you cannot measure.”

That’s Peter Drucker, as recently quoted by the Uptime Institute (www.uptimeinstitute.org) in a follow-up opinion to the EPA’s recent “Report To Congress on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency (pursuant to Public Law 109-431).”

It only makes sense that especially energy-intensive applications should be a core target of any movement to implement highly efficient or green design and operation. And thus, while you don’t think of low-occupancy buildings filled with machinery when you think “green,” data centers are quickly moving to the fore in this arena.

Let’s spend another minute with the Uptime Institute’s published opinion (titled “EPA Report Should Spur Industry-Wide Green Data Center Movement,” by Kenneth G. Brill, the Institute’s founder and executive director).

It marvels, as you might, at the fact that “servers alone consumed 1.2 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2005.” Again, that’s just the servers, none of the other hardware or associated data center infrastructure. The EPA reports that overall data center energy consumption has doubled since 2002 and will double again in the next half-decade. On the good side, Brill writes, “We believe going green can result in massive, industry-wide savings. Based on our findings, we reasonably predict up to 60 percent energy savings in a new green data center with no loss of availability or performance.”

But We Don't Do Servers

That’s right. But our industry obviously plays a key role in providing this infrastructure. Racks of equipment supporting several layers of our economy tend to be less effective when melted into each other. The Uptime Institute is convening a “design Charettte” in October, called Data Center Energy Efficiency by Design: Engineering & Managing Site Infrastructure Systems of the Future. The opinion document describes it thusly:
“The first in an annual series of open-source knowledge-sharing events, the Charrette brings together all stakeholders to cut through the current industry and institutional barriers and perverse incentives to look at entire systems in unprecedented ways.”

For anyone who has watched the walls between building systems start to erode over the last few years - and the need for intra-discipline cooperation begin to rise in its place - this sounds like a pretty good idea. But do you have to wait until October for meaningful discussion?

No, of course not. It just so happens that a couple of this month’s articles address the meaning and ramifications of the EPA report, including William J. Kosik’s feature on the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric and how it ties into the EPA report as well as smarter cooling design for a given project.

Back To Drucker

Let’s tie this together by circling back to that opening quotation. Our other related feature, by Travis Short, looks at tailoring BAS for these spaces, including monitoring, from the ground up (that’s my first and last attempt at a wiring pun).

Serendipitously, Energy Wiz columnist Lindsay Audin is echoing Drucker’s sentiment in a way that pertains to the green concept as a whole. Audin observes the many green-related programs and affiliations that don’t necessarily involve much, if any, real measurement of performance or improvement. We may see a lot of credentials and plaudits flying around, but not all programs (or “successes”) are created equal, and we must separate the marketing from the meaningful.

When it comes to the potential power of sustainable design, an old Presidential motto comes to mind: Trust, but verify. ES