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1/8/2008
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Data Center Operator Cuts Energy Bill By Going 'Green'

365 Main said it saved $54,000 in electricity costs last year by participating in an energy consumption incentive program in California.

By becoming greener in how it consumes energy, data center operator 365 Main last year saved a bunch of green on its electricity bill.

While data centers can curb their energy consumption through virtualization software and server consolidation, most of 365 Main's savings was achieved by shifting energy use at the company's San Francisco data center away from peak time.

The $54,000 in electricity savings last year was achieved by 365 Main's participation in an energy consumption incentive program by Pacific Gas & Electric called Critical Peak Pricing. The voluntary CPP program offers seasonal discounts to companies that curtail power usage in single buildings during high-peak energy consumption times, like the summer.

365 Main said it achieved the largest CPP savings among data center companies in the PG&E coverage areas. In total, 365 Main saved 7,477 kWh during peak CPP times, compared with 365 Main's energy-consumption baseline.

The consumption of energy used to power data centers in the United States doubled from 2001 to 2006 to 60 billion kilowatt-hours, climbing to 1.5% of all electricity used in the U.S., according to research presented to Congress last August by the Environmental Protection Agency. Nationally, that usage is predicted to double again by 2011.

In an e-mail interview with InformationWeek, 365 Main VP of marketing and strategy Miles Kelly said the reduction of energy during peak time was the primary way the company achieved its savings.

"Each year we invite PG&E in for an energy audit to ensure we are following the most energy efficient procedures in our data center," he said.

For example, in 2007, 365 Main "expanded the areas that utilize motion-controlled lighting in the data center and also re-insulated the condenser water lines for the building's massive air conditioning system," as well as reducing lighting levels in public areas during peak days.

"Finally, we adjusted the weekly and monthly test schedules of our generators to peak days, which reduces our utility consumption by almost 8% during test periods," said Kelly.

"This adjustment of the testing schedule allows us to reduce utility consumption without ever affecting the reliability or N+1 redundancy of our power system."

Regarding virtualization and server consolidation, 365 Main does not own the servers deployed within its facilities, "our customers do," he said.

Nonetheless, "we have seen an increase in the use of virtualization within our facilities, as well as more efforts to consolidate servers," he said.

"These tactics usually result in a denser, smaller physical footprint, but any freed power or space is usually reserved by the same customers for expansion," he said. In most cases, power reduction from these tactics range from 5% to 10%.

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