Data center managers welcomed news that the ASHRAE, which sets requirements for energy-efficient building designs, has released updates to its data center efficiency standard, recognizing that they are different than other buildings.
Since 1975, the data center industry has been measured by the “Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings” or ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1. The update, which is called the “Energy Standard for Data Centers” or Standard 90.4-2016, provides a performance-based solution. Rather than identify a prescriptive approach, the new standard provides the levels of performance the data centers need to reach — not a specific plan on how it should be achieved, as was the case with 90.1.
The standard by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) also does not use PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) to measure data center efficiency.
Numerous industry leaders welcomed the changes. In an article for Energy Manager Today, John Bean, a director of research for Schneider-Electric, said that the previous guidelines (ASHRAE 90.1) “could stifle innovation because of its prescriptive nature.”
David Quirk, the Vice President and Principal of DLB Associates, said ASHRAE 90.1 was problematic because it mandated economizers for data centers. Economizers use any available cool outdoor air to minimize the need for compressor cooling. He pointed out that data center cooling is so vital that a failure could be devastating for a company, unlike for other environments which suffer a breakdown in cooling.
“Data centers are all about uptime, availability and risk management,” Quirk told Energy Manager Today in pointing out instances in which economizers were difficult to control or presented issues with contamination. “There were a whole host of issues.”