Performance-Based Energy Standards for Data Centers

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Data Centers: Energy Efficiency and Maintenance

ASHRAE, September 13, 2016

A newly published energy standard for data centers features a performance-based approach that is more flexible and accommodating of innovative changes that rapidly occur in design, construction and operations in that industry.

ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 90.4-2016, Energy Standard for Data Centers, establishes the minimum energy-efficiency requirements of data centers for design and construction, for creation of a plan for operation and maintenance and for use of on-site or off-site renewable energy resources.

“We worked very hard to craft this standard in a manner that does not stifle innovation in the data center industry while simultaneously offering criteria to help ensure energy savings,” says Ron Jarnagin, chair of the 90.4 committee. “It is important to keep in mind that data centers are mission critical facilities where risk management is the primary concern.” Jarnagin noted that high plug loads and rapidly advancing information technology make data center applications significantly different from their commercial building counterparts. Standard 90.4 specifically addresses the unique energy requirements of data centers.

Standard 90.4 is a performance-based design standard that offers the design components for mechanical load (MLC) and electrical loss (ELC). Calculations of the MLC and ELC are made and then compared to the maximum allowable values shown in the standard based on climate zones. Compliance with Standard 90.4 is achieved when the calculated values do not exceed the values contained in the standard. An alternative compliance path is provided that allows tradeoffs between the MLC and ELC.

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