Renovating Data Centers for Low Energy Use

Peter Rumsey, Integral Group | Rumsey Engineers

In the current economy, renovation of all types of facilities, including data centers and other critical environments, is usually a more feasible option than new construction. The challenge with data centers is that the vast majority of existing installations are low performing from an energy standpoint and do not have adequate capacity to accommodate the current generation of high density servers and their attendant higher heat loads. Prevailing designs include inefficient systems and parameters such as non-isolated hot and cold aisles, oversized equipment, poor server room configuration, over dependence on computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units, and unnecessarily low air and water temperature setpoints.

Innovative designers are finding ways to retrofit existing data centers and make them significantly more energy-efficient, while maintaining required high levels of reliability. With data center demand projected to grow steadily and data center owners and operators increasingly focused on operating costs, the need for cost effective solutions to highly energy-efficient design in data center retrofits is crucial.

This session will explore several strategies for low energy retrofits of data centers that focus on practical solutions and cost effectiveness, including: in row cooling, close coupled cooling hot aisle isolation, variable frequency drive (VFD) retrofits, and CRAC unit replacements. Lessons learned from recent projects: the University of California's Warren Hall Data Center, the Gap Data Center, and the Network Applications Data Center, will be presented as examples of successful retrofits.


Peter Rumsey, a national leader in the design of low-energy buildings, is the founder and managing director of Oakland, California-based Integral Group | Rumsey Engineers, the first engineering firm in the U.S. to achieve seven LEED® Platinum projects. He has designed mechanical systems for data centers, cleanrooms, and laboratories that are among the most energy-efficient in the United States. His firm's projects have received many local and national awards from prominent industry organizations, including the Association of Energy Engineers and the American Institute of Architects. He is a registered professional engineer in 10 states, a certified energy manager, a senior fellow of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and an ASHRAE Fellow. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley's mechanical engineering program and is a frequent lecturer at industry events, conferences, and colleges and universities, including the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University. The focus of Mr. Rumsey's career has been transforming the building industry by designing affordable and dramatically energy-efficient buildings.