GE cuts energy and water use in data center

Feb. 3, 2009

Fairfield, Conn.--February 2-- GE today announced that its new technologies will save the company more than 11% of the current annual energy used for cooling at its Ohio data center. In addition, the new solution will save two to three million gallons of water or 20%, while also reducing use of water treatment chemicals at the facility by 50 percent.

“GE technology can address more than 50% of data center energy usage from power supply, distribution, cooling and lighting, and its solutions can result in a 40% annual improvement in energy savings for non-IT systems,” said Greg Simpson, chief technology officer, GE. “By combining cutting-edge products and technologies with an expertise in building management systems, GE provides customers the solid foundation for any high technology infrastructure.”

 GE’s Ohio-based data center features 29,000 sq.ft. of raised floor – equivalent to six professional basketball courts – and includes more than 3,800 IT systems. The data center consumes 24 million kWh of power each year. To help with the reduction of water and energy, GE is updating the data center with nearly 30 products from nine different GE businesses, including power quality, chilled water, electrical, security and IT services equipment.

This data center effort is part of GE’s ecomagination business strategy, designed to build innovative technologies and solutions that help customers address environmental and financial needs and help GE grow. As part of the initiative, GE is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 1 percent by 2012 and reducing its water consumption by 20% by 2012. Since ecomagination's inception in 2005, GE has saved more than $100 million in energy costs; developed more than 70 ecomagination-certified products; and has earned $17 billion in revenues in 2008.

The automation solution installed at the data center will provide a simple view of all operations with drill-down capabilities into specific functional elements and equipment. Through a dashboard application, the data center is provided with summary, comparative and location operational performance data so that challenges and improvement opportunities can be quickly identified, quantified and acted upon. Compliance reporting and the ability to address future requirements, as well as provide easy modifications to these reporting needs, was a necessity.

The Dashboard will have two main running views that can then be drilled down to the sensor level:

1) A simple visualization of all data centers that indicates both alarm condition by function and various key performance indicators, including KW usage versus capacity.
2) A more detailed look at an individual site, with deeper information by operational function - including a 13-month running trend of key operating metrics.

“Our immediate goal was to reduce cost,” said Simpson. “We needed to reduce water and electrical consumption and leverage ambient air for cooling during the winter months, reduce waste water and improve survivability to insure the data center doesn’t go down.” Other goals were to increase cooling capacity to keep pace with the growth of the number of servers, improve the center personnel’s ability to maintain the center efficiently, and automate manual processes.

To meet these needs, a team of professionals led by GE’s high-tech automation specialists, GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, and including GE Water & Process Technologies, GE Lighting Systems, GE Digital Energy and GE Security, provided a comprehensive solution that can be replicated in other centers around GE and in other companies around the world.

Water – GE is providing a reverse osmosis system that transforms drinking water into high purity water for industrial use at the data center. The new water solution reduces water usage and chemical treatment, which is equal to $6,000 per year.
Security – GE’s system includes access control, fire and life safety systems and video surveillance.

Power – Digital Energy contributed power management systems, power quality and power supplies to make sure there is always electricity flowing to the center.

Lighting - With lamp and ballast changes plus lighting control the changes made will payback investment just over one year, then the savings go right to the bottom line each year after.

Control – As automating processes was a key goal of the data center team, a contemporary GE Fanuc process solution that combines state-of-the-art hardware and software was installed as the automation infrastructure for the whole system.
The first phase of the data center solution will be completed this month with further functionality being added in the first half of 2009.

The planned rollout will continue with implementations in other major GE data centers in Georgia, Connecticut and Budapest.