Tag Archives: PUE

University of Hertfordshire wins award for sustainability excellence

7 November 2011: The University of Hertfordshire has won a prestigious Green Gown Award 2011 for its pioneering data centre refurbishment project. This outstanding achievement was announced on 3 November at the national awards ceremony held at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London.

Run by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), the Green Gown Awards (GGA) recognise exceptional environmental initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sector across the UK. With 240 applications this year, a rise of 25% from 2010, GGA are firmly established as prestigious recognition of sustainability excellence in the further and higher education sectors.

The GGA covers 13 awards categories and the University has won the coveted Green ICT category. This recognises the growing environmental importance of ICT within the sector; it encompasses a variety of actions that help minimise energy consumption, carbon emissions, waste generation and other environmental impacts associated with ICT use.

After months of scrutiny the judges said the UH entry gave “Impressive examples of best-practice features which could easily be adapted by others.” At the Awards Ceremony a delighted Steve Bowes-Phipps, UH Data Centre Manager, was presented with the impressive GGA trophy which will be proudly displayed in the College Lane Learning Resources Centre.

Steve said: “Once again, the Data Centre Refurbishment project has been recognised as a beacon of good practice both in the industry and in the HE/FE sector.” He praised his project team colleagues from across the University saying the award was fully deserved: “This has been an important 3-year development for the University which has delivered not only a world-class green data centre but also an operationally efficient one.”

Visit the Green Gown Awards website

More on Data Centre Best Practices II

Regular readers of this blog will know that while we have a sector-leading green and efficient data centre on one of our campuses, the other data centre is somewhat backward in that regard and I’ve spent a lot of effort trying out various ways of improving its efficiency. I’ve resorted to some fancy new type of floor tile and put grommets under the racks, blocking the holes that the cables poke through to help sustain static pressure in the floor plenum.

We’ve been making these changes blindly though as we had no meters in order to measure power usage and calculating the PUE is next to impossible as the building meters are not specific enough.

The good news is that we are finally starting to make some progress! Last Friday, we had power meters installed. We needed four: (1) Main Facility Supply, (2) PDB A, (3) PDB B and (4) Utility Board. Meter 4 captures the usage of the lighting, but also an external comms room that takes its power from our UPS – a legacy piece of infrastructure that could have been architected differently if I had been there when it was designed.

Unfortunately I don’t have a network connection Meter 1 as yet, but I do have the other three meters connected up and recording. The meters we are using are the same we’ve used elsewhere: Cube IP/400s. Does anyone know a way of capturing data from these devices automatically without manual cut & paste? If you do, please let me know. They store about 2.5 months of raw data and a year of totals for trending purposes. They can also calculate cost in monetary terms as well as carbon.

Now we can calculate our PUE and really know how our efficiency improvements are making an impact…more to follow…

PUE Certification

I recently took the step of reporting our PUE figures to the Green Grid for visbility purposes.  This now means we can add the subscript codes “L2, MD” to our PUE so that others will know how we have measured and how accurately.  The following description (courtesy of the GG) explains what the mnemonics mean:

PUE Category 0

This is a demand based calculation representing the peak load during a 12-month measurement period. IT power is represented by the demand (kW) reading of the UPS system output (or sum
of outputs if more than one UPS system is installed)  as measured during peak IT equipment utilization. Total data center power is measured at the data center boundary (e.g. point of electric
feed for Mixed-Use Data Centers  or utility meters for Dedicated Data Centers) and is typically reported as demand kW. As this is a snapshot measurement, the true impact of fluctuating IT or
mechanical loads can be missed. However consistent measurement can still provide valuable data that can assist in managing energy efficiency.  PUE category 0 may only be used for allelectric data centers i.e. it cannot be used for data centers that also use other types of energy (e.g. natural gas, district chilled water, etc.).
PUE Category 1
This is a consumption based calculation. The IT load is represented by a 12-month total kWh reading of the UPS system output (or sum of outputs if more than one UPS system is installed).
This is a cumulative measurement and requires the use of kWh consumption meters at all measurement points.  The total energy  must include all fuel types that enter  the data center
boundary (electricity, natural gas, chilled water, etc).  In a Dedicated Data Center building, this will include all energy captured on utility bills; for a Mixed-Use Data Center, all the same fuels
must be sub-metered if they cross into the data center boundary.  Annual reading should reflect 12 consecutive months of energy data.  This measurement method captures the impact of
fluctuating IT and cooling loads and therefore provides a more accurate overall performance picture than PUE Category 0.
PUE Category 2
This is a consumption based calculation. The IT load is represented by a 12-month total kWh reading taken at the output of the PDU’s supporting IT loads (or sum of outputs if more than one
PDU is installed). This is a cumulative measurement and requires the use of kWh consumption meters at all measurement points. The total energy is determined in the same way as Category 1.
This measurement method provides additional accuracy of the IT load reading by removing the impact of losses associated with PDU transformers and static switches.
PUE Category 3
This is a consumption based calculation. The IT load is represented by a 12 month total kWh reading taken at the point of connection of the IT devices to the electrical system. This is a
cumulative measurement and requires the use of kWh consumption meters at all measurement points. The total energy is determined in the same way as Category 1.  This measurement method
provides the highest level of accuracy for measurement of the IT load reading by removing all impact of losses associated with electrical distribution components and non-IT related devices,
e.g., rack mounted fans, etc.
The “M”, “D” or “Y” after the Category num,ber gives the frequency with which the measurements are taken (i.e. Monthly, Daily or Yearly).

Blanking Panels

First post of the year – so I wish all my regular readers a very Happy and Prosperous one!

I have been busy in the data centre fixing blanking panels recently – we didn’t quite have enough (we do now) but I did manage to virtually completely plug the main hot aisle.  This seems to have had a great effect as my PUE has now dropped from 1.33/1.34 to 1.23/1.24 and I’m *still* running on the “Summer” setting on the CRAHs!!!  Our new support and maintenance provider has started from 4th Jan 2011, so this will be sorted out soon.  It’s nice to see though, that we are approaching our target PUE – if only for a month or so until the weather starts to warm up again.  This gives me confidence that once the data centre is in balance, we should be able to achieve the 1.22 PUE annualised.

On another (related) note: I tried to fit some in-fill panels yesterday.  These are panels that supposedly block the sides of extra-wide cabinets to prevent air escaping around the inside of them.  We have 6 of these in our main comms room.  I have to say, I spent about an hour in there trying these panels in every configuration I could conceive and I cannot see how they fit together to the racks.  They are the correct type – from the same manufacturer – so I can’t see why it’s so difficult!  I’ll have to get someone in to assist.  If you are considering purchasing these – ask for a manual!

Energy Star Label for Data Centers (Steve Phipps)

Another day, another energy standard (http://bit.ly/bECWoa) hits the streets.

It would be easy for anyone looking to manage data centres efficiently to be confused by the plethora of competing standards emanating from various bodies around the World.  This particular standard builds on your Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating, which is a measurement devised by the Green Grid and recently upgraded to bring in external verification.  The problem is, PUE is a very blunt tool for measuring efficiency and should only really be used internally to an organisation, due to it’s susceptibility to external environmental factors and subjective decisions around what to measure.

So what value will the new rating bring?  I’m tempted to say “none at all”, but as with most things, if there is a commercial or regulatory value in doing something, then there will be an almighty rush to the EPA certification queue!  I think most data centre owners would be better off accrediting against the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres (EUCoC for DCs).

The best practice techniques encouraged within the EUCoC will give an excellent starting template and provide an opportunity to lower energy, Carbon and operational costs.  Become an Endorser and/or a Participant and you might just gain some commercial benefit too.

As for the problem of proliferating standards, what we need is an holistic view of Sustainable ICT that helps to pull everything together rather than just provide arbitrary ‘kite marks’ against subjective quantitative measures…