Autodesk Cuts Data Center Energy Use 60%, Saves $7M

An aggressive effort to eliminate data center waste is now saving Autodesk about $7 million a year, according to the design software company.

The initiative led to the consolidation of 85 percent of the company's servers over the past year and enabled the company to exceed its target to reduce data center energy use, said Lynelle Cameron, Autodesk's director of sustainability.

'We had a goal to reduce our energy use by 50 percent and we're now at 60 percent," she said. "The good news behind that is not just that we've reduced our carbon footprint significantly from our data centers, but also we have $7 million of savings annually as a result of that project."

The achievement was one of a string of green developments detailed yesterday during Autodesk's annual Sustainability Summit. The media briefing showcases the company's progress in environmental responsibility as well as products and business ventures that advance the firm's dual aims to democratize design and embed sustainability throughout the design process.

The data center project, which focused on the area where Autodesk uses the most energy, led a list that included news of enhancements to the cloud-enabled Green Building Studio web service and a success story from the firm's Clean Tech Partnership Program.

Boosting Performance for Existing Buildings

The latest version of Autodesk's Green Building Studio allows users to simultaneously pull data on a building's utility use and as much as 10 years worth of weather information for the site. The data helps building operators spot the disconnects between performance expectations based on design, actual resource consumption and the climate conditions that influence it.

Earlier versions provided weather data for more than a million virtual locations around the world, but the information available now is more refined and specific to location. "You can really understand how a building is performing relative to how it was designed to perform," Cameron said.

Closing the gap between building design and performance has become a key mission for the green building movement. It has found that even the smartest, most energy efficient building can fall far short of performance expectations if the building is not operated and maintained properly, and if occupant behavior thwarts efficiency systems and design elements. Numerous tools are being developed to keep green buildings on track and support their continuous improvement.

"This version of Green Building Studio targets existing buildings to help optimize their performance," Cameron said. "Think of the 200 million buildings on the planet that are candidates for energy efficiency renovation and retrofit."