FedEx greens up its data center footprint with Colorado facility

The new facility will consolidate some of the logistic company's existing technology assets and provide a model for future construction or retrofits.

You know that cool tracking application you use to figure out exactly where in the world your anticipated Federal Express package might be hiding? Now, at least one of the data centers behind that enterprise application can be described as "environmentally sustainable." Or at least better than its other ones.

The giant delivery and logistics company's 104,00-square-foot facility adjacent to the FedEx Rocky Mountain Tech Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., is being considered for a certification under the LEED green building design program. The data center, dubbed the Enterprise Data Center-West, will be used as a model for future data center construction and reconstruction. It boasts a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.28. PUE is used to describe the among of cooling technology that its needed to run servers, storage devices, networking equipment and such. A "perfect" score, if you will, would be a "1."

Here are some of the advanced technologies that make this center greener than average:

  • Variable frequency drives in the mechanical and electrical systems, which means these systems can run at the speed that is needed for a given load rather than running at one, fixed speed to cover peak usage scenarios.
  • The data center uses free cooling principles. That is, the building is designed to pull in cool outside air whenever possible in order to keep the building at the desired temperature. During the course of an average year, FedEx believes the data center will be able to take advantage of at least 5,000 hours in free cooling.
  • The building offers a high degree of flexibility when it comes to electric supply, which if you think about it means that in the future it could possibly be switched to renewable energy sources. Right now, it works with one of two different substations, so that electricity supply is constant. There are more than 2,000 batteries at the ready -- enough to run the data center at peak load for some transition time -- if there is a complete power outage. Incidentally, there are eight onsite generators in case that happens. All of this, incidentally, makes this facility a great candidate for demand response services that can help reduce its electricity costs during periods of peak usage.
  • Approximately 11 percent of the building materials that went into the new data center were sourced regionally and more than 14 percent of the materials were produced from recycled content.

Over time (the next three years to be specific), FedEx will move core applications currently hosted in Memphis over to the Colorado Springs site as part of an ongoing migration and consolidation project. Says Kevin Humphries, senior vice president of information technology for FedEx: "We now have a technology model that, going forward, will improve productivity, enhance reliability and help reduce our impact on the environment."

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