Stanford data center earns national recognition for saving energy

The STANFORD RESEARCH COMPUTING CENTER (SRCC) uses nearly 40 percent less energy per square foot than the national median, prevents more than 1,300 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year and outperforms 100 percent of similar buildings nationwide.Data-Center-Cables

Those are just a few of the energy-saving metrics that earned Stanford’s state-of-the art data center the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star certification for superior energy performance.

“Data centers are notorious for using lots of electrical energy to power the servers and storage,” said PHIL REESE, a Stanford research computing strategist. “By being good shepherds of electrical use, we demonstrate our and Stanford’s commitment to saving energy and doing business as environmentally cleanly as possible.”

The EPA recognition certifies that buildings and plants are verified to perform in the top 25 percent of buildings nationwide, based on weather-normalized source energy use that takes into account occupancy, hours of operation and other key metrics.

“The Stanford Research Computing Center demonstrates true environmental leadership by reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions that are proven to contribute to climate change,” said Jean Lupinacci, director for the Commercial and Industrial Branch in the Climate Protection Division at the EPA. “Today, 45 percent of U.S. emissions are attributable to commercial and industrial buildings, which is why improving energy efficiency is so critical for our future.”

At the center, which hosts high-performance computing equipment for Stanford faculty and researchers, running such an energy-efficient building is no accident.

It requires a daily review of the whole facility, looking for issues, leaks, rodents, security problems and energy-wasting situations. SCOTT PREVOST, data center manager, is responsible for the onsite management and monitoring of the facility, which includes daily walk-throughs, inspection of system logs and answering questions from system administrators, faculty and others.

Each quarter, a team led by RUTH MARINSHAW, the chief technology officer for research computing, meets to review how the building has performed and analyzes the up-and-down swings in overall efficiency. The team reviews information – displayed in charts and graphs – from a large data collection process that captures data points every 5 to 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“Charts and graphs with this much data easily show where issues exist,” Reese said.

While the center has been in use for four years, it has only just started its “lifetime of service” to the Stanford research community, Reese said. The building will continue to provide top-notch data center services for another 25 years or more.

Since it opened in January 2014, the facility has served one of its main goals well, Reese added: “It has allowed the campus to empty out some inefficient and unsecured equipment closets that were being used to host racks of servers and storage all across campus. There are more to empty, but the feedback has all been positive about the Stanford Research Computing Center experience.”