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April 24, 2019 | Matt Pacheco

Reducing Data Center Energy Costs

If you’re like us, you’re always looking for ways to reduce operating expenses. Recently we’ve taken a deeper look at potential savings in energy costs, which is having a growing impact in data center operations. TierPoint built three new data centers over the past two years (Tulsa, OK data center; Nashville, TN data center; and Allen, TX data center) giving us an opportunity to create new energy efficiencies in our operations – from the ground up. We interviewed TierPoint’s Ricky Vasquez, VP of data center facilities, and AEP’s Darren Kelsey, a certified energy manager, about their approach to finding energy efficiency savings when building data centers.

Energy savings learnings

Look at your data center for energy saving opportunities

“As we’ve had these opportunities to design and build data centers, we’ve been thoughtful about pursuing energy savings,” said Ricky Vasquez, TierPoint’s VP of data center facilities. “Beyond the obvious strategies of investing in newer, more efficient equipment for cooling and lighting, we have also been more mindful of air flow and floor design. Once you start examining every decision from an energy perspective, if affects the way you do things.”

Adapt software to assist with identifying opportunities for energy savings

Another energy-saving strategy was adopting software tools to help us be more efficient in our operating and maintenance procedures. This makes our staff more sensitive to operational decisions that may impact energy costs.

Also read: The Way Forward for the Software-Defined Data Center

Work with your partners to find savings

In the case of our new data center in Tulsa, we also partnered with the local power company, American Electric Power (AEP), in the planning stages. “We knew having AEP’s input in the planning stage was critical to making the construction and equipment decisions later that would net energy efficiency savings,” Vasquez said.

Like many power companies around the country, AEP is actively encouraging wiser energy usage. “It’s a balancing act for us,” said Darren Kelsey, a certified energy manager with AEP. “It helps us when our clients become more energy efficient, because reducing demand on our system helps us avoid expensive expansions. Our partnership with TierPoint was ideal; by working together, TierPoint was able to build a more efficient data center that will return more energy savings down the line,” Kelsey said.

These tweaks to existing equipment, working with partners and changes to operations could lead to more data center savings.

Collaborate for energy savings

“At TierPoint, we value a collaborative approach to problem solving, and always find it has unexpected benefits,” Vasquez said. “For example, in the course of this project we discovered a way to monitor our dual utility service feeds digitally rather than manually. Now, TierPoint knows as soon as AEP does when power is transferred from one feed to another, and it sets up an automated alert system for our staff.”

“This innovation required working with AEP and the switch manufacturer, which was a relatively easy process once we dug deeper,” according to Vasquez.

AEP’s Kelsey adds, “The digital monitor was an added benefit of our partnership. Now it’s an idea we can offer to other clients. We see our work with TierPoint as an ideal model for building energy efficient data centers.”

“Some of what we’ve learned about attaining energy savings is unique to building new data centers, but some applies to existing facilities as well. Energy savings can be quantified in dollars, which makes it very satisfying – and very compelling,” said Vasquez.

Learn more about our data centers

We’ve learned that a more efficient data center can save energy and lead to an environmental impact. A better data center for us, means a better data center for our customers. See one of our data centers for yourself – schedule a tour today.

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