Increasing Sustainability and Reducing Energy Use in Data Centers

In our last issue of Connections, we reported on increasing sustainability and reducing energy use in data centers. Our dialogue continues with modeling, featuring our in-house experts Kristopher Baker, PE, LEED AP; and Xun Jia, Ph.D., PE, LEED AP.

LEED in Data Centers, Part II: Modeling

Lately we have been focusing on LEED Version 4 – the first version of LEED to address data centers specifically. To attain certification, building teams and owners must provide whole-building energy modeling for their projects. Given the complexities of data centers, this isn’t always a straightforward process.


The key is simulation of energy use. Kris and Xundeveloped a method that follows air flow paths (see diagram below) and involves applying part of the data load to the plenum.

The split of the load between the “occupied” space and the “plenum” space defines the level of containment. Supply air enters a conditioned zone along with the addition of energy, causing thermal degradation. “Return air,” representing the server inlet air, leaves the conditioned zone. The balance of the data load is then added in the plenum, essentially simulating the load across the server rack and the consequent temperature rise across the unconditioned plenum.

This simulation strategy improves accuracy in three areas: accounting for compressor savings, measuring the server inlet temperature, and sizing airflows. If you’d like to learn more, please contact Kristopher or Xun below: