Half of businesses feed their data centers fresh, cooling air

Factors holding back adoption include building retrofits, reliability concerns and deployment costs.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

I always thought the use of air-side economizers to help cool off data centers by using outside air was a neat idea, but I never realized just how many companies actually use this approach.

Now, The Green Grid industry organization reports that almost half of all data centers (49 percent to be precise) are using economizer technology to help save energy while keeping a lid on heat conditions. That number was a surprise on the upside.

Said Mark Monroe, executive director of the industry organization:

"We were not expecting such a high adoption figure when we began this research. What we are witnessing is a technology that is maturing far faster than previously thought. We now need to make sure that data center managers have the tools they need to understand how and what the best economizer options are for optimum deployment."

Another 24 percent of the respondents to the Green Grid's survey about this topic, conducted in early 2011 and reflecting the responses of approximately 115 participants, said they planned to use economizer technology in the near future. The Green Grid only counted responses for data centers that were more than 2,500 square feet for this particular data point, because that is where this technology makes the most sense.
Among those companies that were using economizers, the Green Grid figures that there were an average of 4,724 hours per year during which their use was appropriate because of appropriate weather conditions. But the participants were only using them for about 80 percent of those hours, suggesting that best practices are still playing out in this arena.

The biggest obstacles to the use of air-side economizers, according to the survey;

  • Retrofits
  • Reliability concerns
  • Deployment costs

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