​4 ways to apply green data center practices to building facilities

Applying green practices to facilities may represent a cultural shift, but executives are starting to recognize the natural synergy between the two when it comes to energy management.

The greenest data centers in the world Lots of big tech companies are making their data centers green. Here are just a few of them.

There's energy to be saved--and the data center can lead the way.

According to the nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy, buildings use 40% of the energy and 70% of the electricity in the US. They also emit more than one-third of US greenhouse gas emissions (more than any other sector of the economy), making energy efficiency in buildings incredibly important.

IT data center managers can help facilities managers in the area of energy management.

Why?

The conversion to "green" data centers has yielded huge energy savings. These savings were gleaned from servers and storage that now use less power, coupled with better planning of where data center assets were situated so HVAC cooling systems could work most efficiently. These lessons can be applied to facilities as well.

SEE: Green tech initiatives: Best practices and breakthroughs (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

So, why not apply data center practices to building facilities? Applying data center green practices to facilities is still a cultural shift for many companies, but executives are starting to recognize the natural synergy between the two when it comes to energy management.

However, to make smart building management successful, you need both the buy-in from top management and a transition management team that systematically implements smart building concepts and the technology that drives it. This buy-in and the transition must start on the ground floor. To make it happen, data center and facilities managers must get together to show the value of applying green data center practices to facilities.

SEE: Photos: The 20 greenest data centers in the world (TechRepublic)

Smart building management

Here are four strategies to transfer smart data center practices to facilities management:

1. Conduct energy audits

A good place to start is by taking advantage of energy audits for your general facilities. Most utility companies offer free energy audits to businesses. Data center managers often use these audits to improve data center energy efficiency, but it can also benefit other facility areas.

2. Obtain modeling and analytics software for smart energy management

Data center managers use software to model the data center and redesign it for energy efficiency. The software also enables managers to establish a return on investment (ROI) and to measure how long it will take to recoup the investment. There is no reason why this type of software and its analytics can't be applied to general office space.

3. Consider reducing your facility square footage under management

Companies steadily reduce square footage under management by converting more employees to home workers, thereby consolidating office space. As companies do this, IT and the data center play vital roles because employees working at home need IT equipment and communications to work remotely.

SEE: IT leader's guide to optimizing vendor relationships (Tech Pro Research)

4. Work with your vendors

Many data centers employ designers and energy efficiency experts as well as HVAC equipment providers to assist in redesigning data centers for energy efficiency. The same people can also assist in facilities redesign for energy savings.

The bottom line is that data center's experience with energy savings can be applied in other areas of company operations. The sooner CIOs and other decision-makers at the C-level capitalize on this area of IT expertise, the sooner savings will start.

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