Energy Efficient Data Centers

Publication Type




Data Center facilities, prevalent in many industries and institutions are essential to Californias economy. Energy intensive data centers are crucial to Californias industries, and many other institutions (such as universities) in the state, and they play an important role in the constantly evolving communications industry. To better understand the impact of the energy requirements and energy efficiency improvement potential in these facilities, the California Energy Commissions PIER Industrial Program initiated this project with two primary focus areas: First, to characterize current data center electricity use; and secondly, to develop a research roadmap defining and prioritizing possible future public interest research and deployment efforts that would improve energy efficiency.

Although there are many opinions concerning the energy intensity of data centers and the aggregate effect on Californias electrical power systems, there is very little publicly available information. Through this project, actual energy consumption at its end use was measured in a number of data centers. This benchmark data was documented in case study reports, along with site-specific energy efficiency recommendations. Additionally, other data center energy benchmarks were obtained through synergistic projects, prior PG&E studies, and industry contacts. In total, energy benchmarks for sixteen data centers were obtained.

For this project, a broad definition of data center was adopted which included internet hosting, corporate, institutional, governmental, educational and other miscellaneous data centers. Typically these facilities require specialized infrastructure to provide high quality power and cooling for IT equipment. All of these data center types were considered in the development of an estimate of the total power consumption in California.

Finally, a research roadmap was developed through extensive participation with data center professionals, examination of case study findings, and participation in data center industry meetings and workshops. Industry partners enthusiastically provided valuable insight into current practice, and helped to identify areas where additional public interest research could lead to significant efficiency improvement. This helped to define and prioritize the research agenda. The interaction involved industry representatives with expertise in all aspects of data center facilities, including specialized facility infrastructure systems and computing equipment. In addition to the input obtained through industry workshops, LBNLs participation in a three-day, comprehensive design charrette hosted by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) yielded a number of innovative ideas for future research.

Year of Publication



Research Areas

Related Files