Second Data Center LEED Certification for Digital Realty Trust

Second Data Center LEED Certification for Digital Realty Trust

A Digital Realty Trust data center has become the first building in the city of Santa Clara to earn a LEED-gold certification.

Digital Realty Trust called the use of airside economization a key component that helped it earn the Gold rating for Commercial Interiors. The company’s facility in Chicago was the first data center ever to earn a LEED-Gold rating; Digital Realty Trust now has 15 additional projects in the process of earning the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) certification.

Airside economizers can often reduce cooling-related energy use by more than 60 percent by tapping outside air for nearly zero-cost cooling. When the air outside a data center is cooler than inside, the hot interior air is exhausted and replaced with cooler, filtered outside air.  The economizer, according to Digital Realty Trust's Rich Miller, is integrated with the HVAC system and is a controllable opening in the walls or roof that can be sealed shut or opened depending on the temperature of the outside air.

“Through the use of LEED standards combined with airside economization, we measured a PUE of 1.51 during the commissioning process, which validates the positive impact these practices can have on energy efficiency," Digital Realty Trust CTO Jim Smith said in a statement Monday.

PUE, which stands for power usage effectiveness, is a metric developed by The Green Grid consortium to gauge data center energy efficiency. Complete efficiency would be 1.0. A data center with average efficiency would score about 2.0, while 1.5 PUE is considered efficient, according to The Green Grid. The company began using the PUE metric in 2008.

Digital Realty Trust is using airside economization in another facility in the area, with plans to introduce the practice to other locations in appropriate geographies and climate. The data center that earned LEED CI-Gold was built in 26 weeks and is now in operation.

The company was able to utilize rebates from Silicon Valley Power to help defray costs. Digital Realty Trust declined to disclose the exact amount it received in rebates, but Mary Medeiros McEnroe, the public benefit program coordinator of Silicon Valley Power told a data center of similar size could receive between $750,000 and $1 million from the utility.

Silicon Valley Power has had rebate programs in place for about a decade. The rebate Digital Realty Trust received is customer directed and based on actual kilowatt hours saved.

“Economizers in data centers are not standard,” she said. “There’s more work involved on their side. They have to come up with a measurement and verification plan.”

In addition to data centers operated within corporate facilities, Medeiros McEnroe estimates there are nearly two-dozen stand-alone data centers in Santa Clara, making it the second most data center dense city in the U.S. Several more, she said, are now under construction.

"Data center" -- CC licensed by Flickr user habi.