The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the period January through July 2010 as the warmest on record for average global land and ocean temperatures. In August 2010, a piece of Greenland broke off and formed a floating ice island four times the size of Manhattan. With IT organizations around the world focused on the challenges of protecting the environment and reducing costs associated with power and cooling, why would Cisco choose a notoriously warm area such as Texas to build a new, planet-friendly data center?
Texas may not be one of the hottest places on Earth, but in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area where our new data center is under construction, midyear daytime temperatures can easily reach 100°F (38°C). Combined with the heat exhaust produced by several racks of equipment, it would seem that maintaining a data center in this region should increase costs and perhaps make achieving the U.S. Green Building Council Gold LEED certification more difficult.
In our ongoing multimedia coverage of our new data center buildout, Cisco Data Center 2011-Texas, we share some of the criteria that were considered when selecting the site (Data Center Site Selection). And in Putting the Green in Greenfield, we discuss design choices made for building services in Texas Data Center 2 (DC2), such as the use of solar panels, chemical-free water, and airside economizers. But to get details on our use of the economizers and how we are expecting to benefit from up to 50 to 60 percent fresh air cooling in a warm climate, watch Power Savings From Fresh Air Cooling.
The use of airside economizers is not new to the industry or Cisco buildings. However, it is new to our data center. There are two key factors that make this form of cooling in a warm climate possible. The first is an agreement between our IT and Workplace Resources teams to raise the indoor temperature, or equipment inlet temperature, to 78°F (26°C). This is in alignment with recent updates to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Technical Committee 9.9 guidelines that expand the previous recommended 68 to 77°F data center temperature range to 65 to 80°F. And as a result of raising the temperature inside, less cooling is required.
What also makes fresh air cooling possible at Texas DC2 is this raised indoor temperature combined with the Texas climate and the fact that the new data center will be a year-round, 24-hour facility. Normally, office buildings generate high cooling costs by trying to keep indoor temperatures in the upper 60s to low 70s range for workers during periods of high outdoor daytime temperatures. But with nighttime temperatures in Texas generally below 78°F in the warmest months and a temperate climate throughout the rest of the year, a 24-hour facility with airside economizers makes Texas a great choice in 2010.