Are You Up for AFCOM's 25 kW Challenge?

by Karen Riccio

Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google are constantly in the spotlight for their high-efficient, multi-acre data center campuses powered by state-of-the-art cooling systems and alternative energy generated by massive on-premise, wind and solar farms.

While it’s enlightening to read about their successes, it’s probably equally frustrating when your budget or stubborn CEO stand in the way of implementing your well, thought-out strategy.

Don’t fret. A little later in this article, you’ll learn how AFCOM plans to turn the spotlight on you and your efforts in its new 25 kW Challenge.

In an ideal world, even businesses with the smallest of data centers—those below 5,000 square feet, which includes 48 percent of AFCOM members who participated in our recent State of the Data Center Survey—could afford and implement the same footprint-reducing strategies used by these Internet behemoths.

In reality, data center or facilities managers who work in other sectors such as education, finance, government, manufacturing and more aren’t afforded Google-like deep pockets. It’s hard to convince the C-suite that reducing energy use, and ultimately cost, usually requires an initial investment. Even then, savings may not be obvious or huge right off the bat.

Perhaps these numbers from the Department of Energy might resonate with your CEO: If all U.S. data centers were 20 percent more efficient, as a nation we could save about 14 billion kW by 2020 or roughly $1.4 billion in savings.

So will the fact that you can reduce energy consumption by 20-40 percent by applying some simple management energy efficiency measures and strategies with impressive returns over a short period of time, according to the DOE.

One suggestion by the DOE is to focus on infrastructure rather than expensive emerging IT systems or technologies to reduce costs. After all, for most data centers, infrastructure energy use accounts for 50 percent of the total amount.

Typical upgrades include aligning the servers into hot and cold aisles, managing cool air flow to the servers, supplying air to the servers within the ASHRAE-recommended temperature range and optimizing cooling systems and controls. These types of changes reduce capital and operating expenses, and can pay back their investment cost within five years.

Of course, you may have ideas of your own, and we want to give you the opportunity to show off how you’re reducing your data center’s energy consumption, improving efficiency and reliability, freeing up capacity, extending equipment’s useful life, and increasing redundancy.

Simply track your total load kW, IT load kW and facility load kW monthly and provide the information to AFCOM. We'll calculate and track your kW reduction. The end user who reduces the most amount of energy usage within their data center will win the AFCOM Sustainability Award. End users must complete and return the 25 kW report form monthly from August 2018 through January 2019. Award winners will be recognized at Data Center World in Phoenix, March 19-22 and will receive a $500 prize.

Once you’ve completed the enrollment form, AFCOM will contact you with additional information and tools to ensure your success, including a whitepaper focused on data center efficiency and efficacy.

Both AFCOM members and non-member end users are encouraged to participate!

You never know, getting approval from your CEO to take part in the challenge might result getting the go ahead for a long, overdue energy-reducing strategy. And, if you’ve already got one in place, this could provide the perfect toot-your-own-horn opportunity and put you in the spotlight.