This case study describes the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) data center as a showcase of energy efficiency. Most of what NREL has done can be replicated by clients; however, two design approaches are climate-dependent: near-full reliance on outside air for cooling, and photovoltaic arrays for power.
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This case study details the design and operations of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Research Support Facility data center and its contributions to energy efficiency.
An energy-efficient data center includes targets for its power usage effectiveness (<1.2) and energy resource efficiency (< 0.9). It should be designed with hot isle–cold isle separation, use free cooling (economizer) and evaporative cooling when available, minimize fan energy, and use the most energy-efficient equipment possible.
The General Service Administration's (GSA) Green Proving Ground (GPG) program worked with a team from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to identify buildings with office setups and equipment distributions typical of the wider GSA building stock. Eight buildings from GSA’s Mid-Atlantic Region, where plug loads average 21%, were selected. In each building, approximately 12 standard power strips with no control capability (the incumbent technology) were replaced with APSs, which monitored and provided power to an array of devices. More than 295 devices were monitored during the study, which consisted of three separate test periods, each four weeks in length. All buildings selected had workstation power management in place.
This case study highlights the design, implementation strategies, and continuous performance monitoring of NREL's Research Support Facility data center.