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Why You Should Avoid Tech Seduction When Planning Green Data Center

by on November 10, 2010

I was researching information on green data centers and found this really great article on data center design that I think brings up many really nice point. It can be easy, especially in today’s green saturated world, to chase the latest technology. But Anthony Abbattista, vice president of technology solutions for Allstate says don’t fall for it. Abbattista played a major role in getting the insurance company’s new green data center in Rochelle, Ill. into the ground so he knows a thing or two about construction that’s eco-friendly.

Data_center_design “Every decision we made was based on using technology to run the business as a business, and not ‘Gee whiz, isn’t this cool?'” he told Jeff Cerny in a question and answer session posted in January of this year.

“I think that’s been the key to managing this project and knowing when enough is enough,” he continued. “You can always find one more great idea, but keeping the business and customer focus first is what got this project approved to begin with and then got us through it.”

Asked if green designs cost more than traditional ones, Abbattista said that kind of analysis wasn’t part of the planning process. “We started into the initial design of the building with some fundamentally green concepts at the forefront of our plan,” he observed. “We started off with a good amount of green in the proposal: variable-speed equipment, chillers, and other details we already knew how to do right from experience with our other facilities.”

He acknowledged, however, that planners looked at the green aspects of the project in two ways. If the cost differential between a green versus generic alternative wasn’t significant, choosing the green solution was “automatic.”

When the green solution involved an additional capital outlay, he continued, its cost-benefit was evaluated. For example, the cost of variable-speed chillers and green lighting was offset by energy recovery benefits. “With energy recovery, we actually get all the heat for the office space and finished areas from the data center, so we have zero heating costs,” he revealed.

Abbattista also noted that the location of the data center itself turned into a green decision. “The real trick there is to get free cooling days, which means on a cooler day we’re just circulating chilled water and opening a window, so to speak,” he said.

“One of the major issues in a modern data center is heat, which is another reason we decided to locate in the north,” he added.

These are points that everyone should consider when designing a data center. And the earlier in the process these types of questions can be brought up, the easier it will be to implement the green features you want.

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