University’s Data Center Earns Recognition for Energy Efficiency

The University of Rochester has received $168,000 through NYSEG/RG&E’s Commercial and Industrial Rebate program for leadership in data center energy efficiency. This rebate corresponds with the University’s use of OptiCool modular cooling technology, a locally produced innovation that has helped significantly reduce energy use and costs in the University’s second data center.

The University’s data centers are controlled access environments housing critical technology equipment, applications, and data. The primary data center in Monroe County is the hub of the University’s computing resources, which are shared by the academic, medical, research, and administrative communities. The second data center in Ontario County serves as a hub backup, with both locations operating 24/7.

Primary Data Center
The University’s primary data center

The OptiCool system in the second data center effectively cools the electronic equipment close to the source of heat by using rear-door units installed on the back of computer cabinets. The heat from the electronic equipment is captured by refrigerant that circulates to cooling units, and is eventually looped through coils to outdoor air condensers for final heat rejection. There are multiple efficiencies in using OptiCool for high heat density cooling: the system is up to 95 percent more energy efficient than conventional cooling within data centers; it has up to 500 percent more cooling capacity; and it can reduce floor space dedicated to cooling by up to 90 percent.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to reduce our energy footprint, even while our reliance on technology grows,” said David Lewis, University vice president for information technology. “The data center provides critical support to University-wide operations 24 hours a day, every day of the year, so investments in its energy efficiency will have exponential benefits far into the future.”

“Energy efficiency is of critical importance to RG&E,” said Mark S. Lynch, president of NYSEG and RG&E. “RG&E is pleased to assist the University of Rochester’s efforts to use energy wisely. This is a prime example of how our Commercial and Industrial Rebate Program can help reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions – something that helps not only this fine institution, but the state as a whole.”

“We are proud to support the University of Rochester in leading data center sustainability in health care and higher education,” said Jeff Burke, OptiCool Technologies president. “Data centers consume nearly 3 percent of all electricity in New York State, which can be reduced substantially with new innovative technologies.” OptiCool Technologies is an affiliate company of Calvary Automation, with both based in Webster, N.Y.

This is not the data centers’ first recognition for sustainability. In 2009, a $300,000 RG&E rebate recognized energy efficiencies within the primary data center’s construction, and in June 2010 NYSERDA awarded the University a $189,000 grant for energy efficiencies built into the design of the primary data center. In 2011, NYSERDA also recognized the primary data center as a High Performance Building, with energy-saving features that include a building management system that optimizes efficiency, and a cooling system that takes advantage of Rochester’s moderate climate.