Data center facilities pro

Jan 26 2009   4:13PM GMT

Sun Microsystems completes green data center in Colorado

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Sun Microsystems has completed a new data center in Broomfield, Colo., built with efficiencies that the company says will save $1 million a year in electricity costs.

The data center features overhead cooling using Liebert XDs, airside economizing and flywheel uninterruptible power supplies (UPSes) from Active Power.

The project came about when Sun acquired StorageTek back in 2005, so it’s been in the works for a few years now. Both companies had data centers in Broomfield that actually sat on opposite sides of Route 36, a major road, and Sun decided that it would consolidate the two into one. It was able to condense 496,000 square feet of data center space at the old StorageTek campus into 126,000 square feet in the new location, a move that is saving 1 million kwH per month.

The move is also slicing down the amount of raised floor space from 165,000 square feet to just 700 square feet — enough to support a mainframe and old Sun E25K box for testing. The elimination of that much raised floor, including the construction needed to brace it to support such heavy IT equipment, is saving Sun $4 million, according to Mark Monroe, Sun’s director of sustainable computing for the Broomfield campus.

The overhead Liebert XD data center cooling units feature variable speed drive (VSD) fans that allow the supply of air to range from 8kw up to 30kw per rack. The Active Power flywheel UPSes eliminate the need to have a whole room dedicated to housing UPS batteries.

“Flywheels are usually 95% to 97% efficient,” Monroe said. “Battery systems are usually in the low 90s, high 80s.”

Finally, Sun is using a chemical-free method to treat its chilled water system that takes advantage of electromagnetics. The new method allows Sun to reuse the water in onsite irrigation systems and not have to flush out the water as often. It will save about 675,000 gallons of water and $25,000 per year.

In total, the company will be cutting its carbon dioxide consumption by 11,000 metric tons per year, largely because Broomfield gets so much of its power from coal-fired power plants.

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