The Irony of Powering Big Data: Optimizing Data Centers Requires More Data

John Pappas, PE, LEED AP

Principal - Mechanical Engineer

The Big Data revolution is both an opportunity and a challenge. Powering data centers is often energy intensive. However, more data is needed for informing how to reduce the energy use—thus, Data Centers ironically need to gather more data to optimize their own operations.


  • Tap into your local utility incentive programs with data center-specific programs to partially fund assessment.
  • Use the incentive from your local utility incentive program to partially fund the analyzed energy conservation measures.
  • Work with a “creative” partner, willing to work with you to produce energy-reduction results—consider a pay-for-performance model – minimize first cost and reap the long term energy reduction savings. (i.e Work with someone who will put their money where their mouth is!)


  • Hot aisle/cold aisle containment is one of the simplest way to improve both the thermal control and produce energy savings.
  • Raising the supply air temperature is the least invasive way to improve the energy efficiency of the cooling system. ASHRAE recommendation is now up to 80.6F. This works best in conjunction with a containment solution.
  • Add water or air economizers to take advantage of the cooler outside conditions.
  • Reduce or eliminate the humidification as ASHRAE recommendation is now 8% relative humidity.
  • In –rack cooling using liquid in coils vs. air to cool should be considered for rack loads greater than 15kW/rack.
  • Purchase only high efficiency (ECM) variable speed fan motors and consider retrofitting existing fixed speed fans.
  • Wireless temperature-sensor technology – To automatically power on/off cooling equipment based on the temperature.
  • Replace old inefficient and lightly loaded UPS with UPSs with eco-mode.

Interested in more information regarding the optimization of Data Centers, contact us.

Credit to Phil Gioia for his contribution to this post.


Adam Sachs, PE

Associate, Mechanical Engineer

Amy Pitts, MBA, BSN, RN

Medical Equipment Project Manager

Andy Neathery

Technology BIM Specialist

Angela Howell, BSN, RN

Senior Associate, Medical Equipment Project Manager

Anjali Wale, PE, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Senior Electrical Engineer

Austin Barolin, PE, CEM, LEED AP O&M

Senior Associate, Senior Energy Analyst

Beth Bell

Principal, Chief Financial Officer

Bilal Malik

Associate, Senior Electrical Designer

Brennan Schumacher, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Lighting Design Studio Leader

Brian Hageman, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Plumbing Discipline Lead

Brian Hans, PE, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Senior Mechanical Engineer

Brian J. Lottis, LEED AP BD+C

Associate, Senior Mechanical Designer

Brianne Copes, PE, LEED AP

Senior Associate, Mechanical Engineer

Bryen Sackenheim

Principal, Technology Practice Leader

Carolyn Carey

Medical Equipment Project Manager

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