Brocade snags $2.1 million 'incentive' for energy-efficient data center

Summary:The $2.1 million incentive from Pacific Gas and Electric is one of the largest ever under the utility's Non-Residential New Construction Program.

Networking company Brocade has earned a $2.1 million incentive from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), one of the largest ever under the utility's Non-Residential New Construction Program.

Central to Brocade's campaign to collect that money was a new data center and research laboratory on its year-old corporate campus in San Jose, Calif. The campus itself is Gold-certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The new data center, which is approximately 5,000 square feet, squeezed the equipment of three data centers into one while achieving a power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.2. PUE describes the ratio of cooling equipment to information technology in a given data center. The closer to 1.0, the better. The entire research and development facility housing the data center is 70,000 square feet.

From an efficiency standpoint, here are some other things to know about the facility:

  • The consolidation saved roughly 14 million kilowatt-hours per year in electricity consumption, or $1.5 million in electricity costs
  • Carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by 5,700 tons
  • Water consumption decreased 40 percent
  • A 550-kilowatt photovoltaic array system on campus has helped save about $100,000 per year in electricity costs

Michael Hirahara, vice president of global real estate, facilities and services for Brocade, said:

"Our headquarters project is just one example of how we apply cost-effective and environmentally friendly solutions to our business operations and our products. Looking forward, we are also evaluating alternative energy solutions like wind and fuel cells as we strive to be good stewards of our communities, the environment, and our shareholders' investment, now and into the future."

When I spoke with Hirahara about the data center this week, he told me there were five key design factors key for squeezing the most energy efficiency out of the facility:

  1. A power distribution architecture that brings high voltage electricity into the campus, resulting in less line loss. The high-efficiency chillers (see photo) are in an central plant with only one primary loop for higher efficiency.
  2. Water-side economizers are used extensively during the winter months and they help keep the data center pre-cooled so that less energy is necessary to cool things down
  3. In-row cooling units and hot aisle containment
  4. Servers that are more than 75 percent virtualized
  5. A modular design approach that uses pods to expand, as necessary

In the video below, Hirahara offers a down-and-dirty technical tour of the facility:

Topics: CXO, Data Centers, Hardware, Networking, Storage

About

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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