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.
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.
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: Green tech initiatives: Best practices and breakthroughs (free PDF) (Tech Republic)
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.
- How to save energy in your data center (Tech Republic)
- Google just put an AI in charge of keeping its data centers cool (TechRepublic)
- How to use IoT to save money on your office bills (TechRepublic)
- This data center's excess heat will help warm thousands of homes (ZDNet)
- 10 ways smart offices are saving energy and lowering their carbon footprint (ZDNet)
- Video: Tips to make your office more environmentally friendly (TechRepublic)
Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print.