'Tis the Season for Energy Efficiency: LED and LEED

Rockefeller Center hosted its first official Christmas tree lighting over eight decades ago. Every year since 1933, this iconic tradition has adapted to the times. According to Time Magazine, the tree was trimmed with red, white and blue décor during WWII as a show of patriotism and remained unlit in 1944 due to wartime regulations. For the first time in 1951, Americans from around the country watched the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting during an NBC broadcast. And in 1986 the tree was decked with 20,000 incandescent lights, using more energy than any of its predecessors.

Twenty-one years later, a new tradition was born: energy-efficiency. Since 2007 the Rockefeller Christmas Tree has utilized energy-saving LED lights. In another energy-saving initiative that year, Rockefeller Plaza installed 363 solar panels to help power the tree and reduce year-round energy consumption. According to New York City’s PIX11, this year’s tree will hold 50,000 LED lights that will twinkle on more than five miles of wire.

Now, many Americans opt for these energy-saving bulbs, which come in a variety of colors and styles. According to the Southwestern Electric Power Company, strands of LED lights use roughly 90 percent less energy than the incandescent alternative. So it seems energy efficiency is as much a part of the holidays now as carols, hot chocolate and Christmas pajamas.

But after the holidays have passed and decorations are stored safely away, data center providers are still challenged with meeting increased data consumption and storage needs with cutting-edge energy solutions. Ed Spears recently highlighted this challenge in a Data Center Journal article, “Although [energy-efficiency] is an important consideration for professionals across many industries, it really hits home in the data center market today – especially for cloud-computing vendors, hosting companies and other IT-service providers who are opening multi-tenant data centers at a rapid pace.” Data Center Dynamics described employing a renewable energy strategy as “making both environmental and business sense” for data center providers.

The U.S. Green Business Council was established in 1993 “to promote sustainability-focused practices in the building and construction industry.” This organization developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification, a rating system that has become a standard around the world for measuring the sustainability of a building’s design, construction and operations.

Considering the multiple challenges facing industry leaders in building strategies for both the provision and conversation of energy, we’ve outlined three key considerations that directly impact the sustainability of a facility.

Recycling and Reconstructing Brownfield Facilities

Across the country, under-utilized industrial buildings that were originally designed and constructed for the manufacturing industry have become vacant. These structures often possess the infrastructure requirements necessary to house a data environment, like strong structural support, open-floor plans, high-ceilings and expansive campuses. Converting these often neglected sites into viable data centers through the use of state-of-the-art techniques and by recycling and reusing any existing industrial materials is not only beneficial to data center providers and customers, it often transforms entire communities.

Water Conservation Methods

Water conservation has become more relevant ever. The National Integrated Drought Information System reports that the southeast and western United States are experiencing “exceptional drought conditions.” Data center providers must commit to water conservation. Rainwater collection systems, water-side economizers and water-efficient fixtures are just some of the methods providers can employ to ensure that they are good steward of a limited water supply.

Energy Efficient Cooling and Power Systems

Power and cooling make up the bedrock of data center operations. Power availability and efficiency is vital not just in a mega data center, but in data centers of all sizes. Cooling makes up a substantial portion of the electrical load at a data center, accounting for up to 30 percent of a facility’s electricity usage. Design and operations are at the heart of ensuring that power and cooling systems are maintained in an efficient manner. The use of blanking panels is vital to facilitating proper air flow and preventing the recirculation of air. Time and motion sensors ensure that lighting is only utilized when necessary. Finally, providers can ensure Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) systems run efficiently through the use of Variable Frequency Drives.

QTS has developed an industry-leading Sustainability and Efficiency Strategy. Our commitment to energy-efficiency is not just driven by the desire to help our customers save on energy costs and support their efforts to scale as their data and business needs grow. We are committed to being good stewards of the environment and seek to develop initiatives that positively impact the technology industry as a whole. Click here to learn more about our sustainability initiative and how we’re changing the way data centers approach energy in a community near you.

Contact us online today, or call 877.QTS.DATA, to learn more about our cost-effective, efficient alternative to building (or buying) your own data center to house your IT and network infrastructure.