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Zen and the Art of Data Center Greening (and Energy Efficiency)
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Commentary of Dr. Zen Kishimoto on news, trends, and opportunities in environmentally sustainable data centers and energy efficiency.


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A Visit with Bruce Myatt, Founder and Chair of Critical Facilities Roundtable

Posted By Zen Kishimoto, Thursday, February 24, 2011

I have attended several Critical Facilities Roundtable (CFRT) events in the past. CFRT is a group of data center users who share industry trends, technologies, practices, and friendship. Their meeting is usually held at a data center site, and after a few presentations, a tour is conducted at that site. Because of the group’s nature, the participants usually have the rare opportunity to tour at a production data center, such as Yahoo’s (hosted in Digital Realty Trust).

I had exchanged a few words with Bruce before but had not had a chance to sit down and talk to him. So I caught him at his new office in San Francisco right after his return from two business trips. In spite of the busy schedule of his new position, he was nice enough to give me time to interview him.

Bruce Myatt at his office

The following is a summary of our conversation.

CFRT was founded in 2003 by four people, including Bruce. The other three people left for one reason or another, and Bruce is now in charge. CFRT is a group of professional data center users and providers, and its purpose is to share new technologies and practices as reflected in the members’ day-to-day operations. The group’s focus is on Silicon Valley rather than national.

Data Center Pulse (DCP) is somewhat similar to CFRT, but DCP members interact via websites like LinkedIn, and CFRT has a hands-on approach.

CFRT consists of several committees and subgroups, and most are facilities focused; there are committees for the high-density data center, legacy data centers, and energy. However, a recent creation of the technology group has begun to change the focus and make it more diversified, concerning itself with IT issues, including cloud computing, virtualization, and high energy efficiency in server and other IT equipment technologies. The technology group is formed by a team from the previous AFCOM Northern California chapter, as I have reported before.

Over the seven to eight years since CFRT’s founding, a lot has changed in the data center marketplace. Of course, the data center field has expanded tremendously, but the technology and operational advancements are the most noteworthy. At its formation, CFRT people knew how the changes would take place, and the changes materialized, and they are happy with the result. Technology has changed so much that the way data centers are designed, constructed, and operated is completely different today.

I asked Bruce if there was an energy crisis back then. He said that the energy crisis for data centers did not come to the surface until the EPA report in 2007. And since then, it has become one of the most important issues for the data center market.

For the next five to ten years, advancements in technology will make data centers smaller yet very efficient in both energy and throughputs. A container-based data center is a test bed for that. It is standardized in form, efficient, and mobile.

Bruce predicted that every data center would be equipped with measuring and monitoring functions, based on something like SNMP, to report its minute-by-minute status.

As for one of the most-discussed subjects of IT and facilities integration, he thinks that tools like HP’s OpenView and BMC’s Patrol can collect data from both IT and facilities sides now. The question is how you use the collected data for control. This is not a technology question but an operational issue. His funny examples are whether we want to play music on a refrigerator or set an oven timer via a cell phone. This is a good example of "do you really want to do it if you have the technology to enable it?” Unless the data collected from both camps is put to use for a real reason, the situation would remain the same.

We also talked about LEED, Energy Star for data centers, Tier, and international markets for data centers. But I will blog on them in the future.

Tags:  Bruce Myatt  CFRT  Critical Facilities RoundTable  EPA 

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New EPA Energy Star Person for Data Centers

Posted By Zen Kishimoto, Monday, July 19, 2010

After the departure of Andrew Fanara from EPA, a new person is in charge of Energy Star for data centers. She is Una Song.

She gave a talk on EPA’s efforts on Energy Star at the recent DatacenterDynamics in San Francisco.

Una Song

It was a good summary of Energy Star for data centers. Here’s a set of videos from her presentation. There was a little surprise during her talk. One of the participants started questioning why power generated with renewable energies is not counted in the computation of PUE. His claim is that power generated by clean energy should be given some credit. In an extreme argument, he says PUE could be 50, yet all the power fueling the data center might be from renewables. The absence of GHG emissions in that case should be commended rather than the bad PUE frowned upon. That interaction is captured toward the end of videos 2 and 3. This reminds me of the metric (called Data Center Performance per Energy, or DPPE) proposed by Japan’s Green IT Promotion Council.

This metric takes the use of renewables into account. To refresh your memory, here is the definition of DPPE:


(IT equipment utilization * IT equipment ability)

/ (total power consumed – green power used)

DPPE was also mentioned in another session. That will come later.

  1. Video of Una Song’s presentation on Energy Star for data centers-Video1
  2. Video of Una Song’s presentation on Energy Star for data centers-Video2
  3. Video of Una Song’s presentation on Energy Star for data centers-Video3
  4. Video of Una Song’s presentation on Energy Star for data centers-Video4

Tags:  Energy Star  EPA  Una Song 

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Energy Star Program Personnel Change

Posted By Zen Kishimoto, Thursday, May 6, 2010

Energy Star Program Personnel Change

As Andrew Fanara leaves the Energy Star program, EPA sent out the following letter to inform us of the new personnel in charge for several different fields of the program.

Dear ENERGY STAR® Stakeholder:

We are writing to let you know that long time ENERGY STAR product development lead, Andrew Fanara, has taken another position, and to provide you with new contact information for products of interest to you. Andrew played a significant role in shaping the ENERGY STAR products program and worked on nearly every ENERGY STAR product category. EPA truly appreciates the contributions he made to the ENERGY STAR program.

EPA is committed to ensuring the smooth transition and continuation of work on product categories Andrew led. New contact information for product leads is listed below.

Product Area



Una Song


Uninterruptible Power Supplies:

Battery Chargers:

External Power Supplies:

Heating, Ventilating, and Cooling Products

Room Air Cleaners


Ceiling Fans:

Abigail Daken


End Use Products:

Steve Ryan


International Coordination:

Christopher Kent


For products and issues not addressed here, please contact Katharine Kaplan at 202-343-9120;

For more information, visit:

Tags:  Andew Fanara  Energy Star  EPA 

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EPA’s Webinar on the Energy Star Program

Posted By Zen Kishimoto, Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The following might interest my readers. I present EPA’s announcement without any comments:

EPA would like to invite your participation in a product-specific webinar covering the proposed enhancements to testing and verification for the following ENERGY STAR qualified product categories:

  • Audio/Video Equipment
  • Computers
  • DataCenter Storage
  • Decorative Light Strings
  • Digital to Analog Converter Boxes
  • Displays
  • Imaging Equipment
  • Servers
  • Set-Top Boxes
  • Small Network Equipment
  • Telephony
  • Televisions
  • Uninterruptible Power Supplies

The information presented in this webinar will build from the concepts presented during the program-wide stakeholder call regarding enhanced verification on March 26, 2010, but focus specifically on the new proposed requirements for the above listed product categories. This webinar will take place on March 31, 2010, from 11:00 to 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time. An outline will be distributed one week prior to the webinar.

To register for this call, please email by the close of business on Thursday, March 25, and note "CE/IT” in the subject line. Confirmed registrants will receive details for the call.

A complete schedule of all webinars and instructions on how to RSVP will soon be posted on our website at

We look forward to your participation.

Tags:  Energy Star  EPA 

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Do We Need Two New Large Power Plants Every Year to Keep Up Data Center Power?

Posted By Zen Kishimoto, Thursday, February 25, 2010

The New York Times (NYT) recently reported that:

Google Inc won approval from U.S. energy regulators to act as a power marketer, which will make it easier for the Internet search giant to obtain renewable energy to run its huge data centers.

This news was reported by several other media sources, including:

But my attention is on the last two paragraphs in the NYT article:

Information technology and telecommunications facilities, such as those that Google owns, account for approximately 120 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually—or 3 percent of all U.S. electricity use, according to the Energy Department.

Rapid growth in the U.S. data center industry is projected to require two new large power plants per year just to keep pace with the expected demand growth, the department says.

As I reported back in 2008, according to the report published by EPA for the U.S. Congress in 2007, data center power consumption doubled from 2000 to 2006. In 2006, data center power consumption was roughly 1.5% of the whole nation’s. Without any remedy, this figure will double again by 2011, requiring multiple power plants to accommodate the increase.

The EPA report considered five scenarios, two of which aggressively apply state-of-the-art technologies and operating methods to curb such an increase.

There has been no update on this report since 2007, and it is hard to tell whether the trend has been curbed. The 3% figure cited in the NYT article is often obtained by doubling 1.5%. As a very rough estimate, it may be true, but groups like SVLG and its members have a lot of efforts under way to curb the increase. We need an update of the EPA report now to assess where we are in terms of data center power consumption. 

Tags:  Data Center power consumption  EPA  Google  SVLG 

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Energy Star for Uninterruptible Power Supplies

Posted By Zen Kishimoto, Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I have just received an email from EPA regarding the launch of the Energy Star specificationdevelopment process for uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). Following the Energy Star specification for servers, EPA is currently working on storage devices and data centers. I include the announcement letter for your information here, along with these highlights:

  • UPS products are common among data centers, regardless of their kind.
  • UPS products have good potential for energy efficiency.
  • Energy Star can expand an evaluation method established by the International Electrotechnical Commission.
  • Improvement to the energy efficiency of UPS products is unlikely to degrade their performance.
  • Energy Star labeling helps consumers select USP products for energy efficiency.

Tags:  Energy Star  EPA  UPS 

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More on Measuring

Posted By Zen Kishimoto, Monday, November 23, 2009
Many experts, including this author, emphasize the importance of measurement and monitoring at a data center. The reason for that is simple. Unless you know the current state of your data center, you cannot improve it. Parameters like power, temperature, and humidity are fundamental to the operation of your data center. And more accurate measurement is obtained at the rack level.

I have talked about wireless sensor–based measuring companies in previous blogs. Some data center operators have started measuring with such a sensor, but others have not. There should be a greater incentive to measure using their sensors. A rebate program may be one such incentive. PG&E has a rebate program to award cash in exchange for demonstrable energy saving in several categories, including that of using energy efficient servers and virtualization. PG&E may consider extending the rebate program to include measurement as long as the result is proven to increase energy efficiency. A few case studies reported at the recent SVLG Data Center Energy Efficiency Summit showed how a set of wireless sensors improved data center energy efficiency.

EPA has decided to use the power consumption data at UPS units rather than at PDUs, racks, or servers for its new Energy Star for Data Centers. This is because the vast majority of data center operators measure at the UPS units. So it is not necessary to use sensors to measure to qualify for the rebate, and the PG&E rebate program may not be enough to motivate operators to use the sensor-based approach. What else will move the majority of data center operators to measure at the rack level?

Another thing about these measurement companies is that it is hard to tell which one is better than the others. How many parameters should be measured? When I expressed my frustration, someone suggested that we might want to propose something like a Chill-Off for measurement vendors.  Chill-Off is an activity conducted by a nonprofit professional group called Data Center Pulse. The Chill-Off projects gather all the cooling vendors together and conduct cooling experiments. The results of the experiments are published and are open to the public. If a measurement project is done the way Chill-Off is conducted, it would be very helpful for motivating data center operators to adopt measuring at the rack level in their data centers.

Tags:  Chill-off  EPA  Metering and measuring 

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EPA Energy Star Presentation at SVLG DCEE

Posted By Zen Kishimoto, Friday, October 23, 2009
Andrew Fanara of EPA gave a presentation on what the agency has been doing about Energy Star for IT gear. Even though many articles and blogs have been written about on the subject, this 11-minute video is a good summary that can help you understand it.

Fanara talked about Energy Star for:
  • Desktop computers
  • Server computers
  • Data centers (the next webinar is November 12, see here)

For some reason, he did not touch on Energy Start for storage devices. Towards the end of his presentation, a slide stated that EPA uses PUE instead of EUE, which was described in the webinar at the end of September (see my previous blog)

Fanara did not mention this point, but Bill Tschudi of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory asked about it. Fanara acknowledged that EPA uses PUE rather than EUE.

Tags:  DCEE  Energy Stwsa  EPA  SVLG 

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EPA’s Energy Performance Rating for Data Centers

Posted By Zen Kishimoto, Thursday, May 7, 2009
Along with the Energy Star specification for servers, EPA has been collecting data for performance rating so that one data center can be compared with others. Michael Zatz, manager of Energy Star commercial buildings at EPA, wrote an article for ComputerWorld. Some basic information is given at the bottom of the Energy Star Enterprise Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency Initiatives page.

Zatz writes that the rating:
will compare the energy use of one facility against that of similar facilities across the country, using the EPA’s unique 1-to-100 rating system.

He adds that:
it was decided that the Energy Star 1-to-100 rating will be most effective if it is based on a ratio of total facility energy use to energy used by the IT equipment. Most people know this metric as PUE or DCiE. For Energy Star, the rating will be based on the average ratio for the facility, calculated from 12 months of actual measured data.

The use of PUE or DCiE is not the end of the effort:
The EPA’s ultimate goal is to refine the rating so that it is based on measures that compare the output or work from the data center with its energy use.

Rich Miller of Data Center Knowledge also commented on this subject.

This also goes along the line of which metrics to use to accurately measure data centers’ performance. The “useful work” per watt should be the real metric to use but it is very hard to do so. Currently, a proxy for that is being discussed at The Green Grid and elsewhere.

Tags:  DCiE  EPA  Michael Zatz  Performance rating for Data Centers  PUE 

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Energy Star for Storage

Posted By Zen Kishimoto, Wednesday, May 6, 2009
In his letter (dated April 23, 2009) to Enterprise Storage Equipment Manufacturers and Other Interested Parties, Andrew Fanara of EPA declared the development of the Energy Star specification for enterprise data storage equipment.

He summarized the Energy Star program as:
… a voluntary partnership between government, businesses, and purchasers designed to encourage the manufacture, purchase, and use of efficient products to help protect the environment. Products that earn the ENERGY STAR prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency guidelines. Manufacturers that qualify their products to meet ENERGY STAR requirements may use the label as a tool to educate their customers about the enhanced value of these products.

These are statistics of the use of the Energy Star rating:
  • More than 2,000 manufacturers are partnering with ENERGY STAR.
  • More than 40,000 product models carry the ENERGY STAR label across more than 50 product categories.
  • More than 70 percent of Americans recognize the ENERGY STAR label.
  • Consumers have purchased more than 2.5 billion ENERGY STAR qualified products.
  • Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2008 to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 29 million cars—while saving $19 billion on utility bills.

Now that phase one of the Energy Star specification for servers is nearing its end, the next item to work on is storage. The details are still sketchy, but I requested to be included on the enterprise storage email distribution list and will report any relevant and interesting information on this blog.

Tags:  Andrew Fanara  Energy Star  EPA  Storage 

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