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Data Centers

Image of data center shelves

Data centers consume about 70 billion kWh of electricity per year in the United States, close to 2% of the nation’s electricity use. Their demand continues to surge as the use of applications such as artificial intelligence, Internet of things, autonomous vehicles, and virtual reality grows. By improving energy efficiency, the Data Centers sector could save billions in both costs and kWh of energy.

2023 Better Buildings Progress Report

To date, 900+ Better Buildings, Better Plants partners have saved more than 3.1 quadrillion Btu, saving more than $18.5 billion and 189 million metric tons of CO2.

Get Involved

There are many different ways to work with DOE through the Better Buildings Initiative. Explore our partnerships to find the best fit for your organization, whether your focus is energy, water, waste, or carbon.

Watch Recorded Webinars

Watch all previously recorded webinars in the On-Demand Webinars library sorted by popular topics such as resilience, zero energy buildings, and more.

Other Resources

Fact Sheet

Better Buildings Challenge Overview Fact Sheet

Leading CEOs and executives of U.S. companies, universities, school districts, multifamily organizations, and state and local government are taking the Better Buildings Challenge to reduce energy use across their building portfolios by 20 percent in 10 years.

FAQ

Better Buildings Challenge Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

Read how the Better Buildings Challenge a voluntary leadership initiative is bringing together leading CEOs and executives of U.S. companies, universities, school districts, multifamily residential organizations, and state and local government to make a public commitment to energy efficiency. 

Guidance

Data Center Metering and Resource Guide Guidance

This guide intends to help data center owners and operators implement a metering system that allows their organizations to gather the necessary data for effective decision-making and energy-efficiency improvements.

Presentation: Data Center Key Considerations Guidance

Presentation slides from Data Centers: Key Considerations presentation given at the NASA Net-Zero Energy workshop June 5-6, 2012.

Implementation Model

Sabey Data Centers: Hot Aisle Containment and Energy Efficiency in Multi-Tenant Data Centers Implementation Model

At multi-tenant data centers, customers' needs and equipment vary, making the implementation of hot aisle containment complicated and potentially costly. Sabey requires hot aisle containment from their Intergate Quincy facility customers, while ensuring Sabey maintains ample flexibility in deploying the containment.

LBNL's Operational Data Analytics for Data Center Energy Management Implementation Model

To achieve and maintain lasting operational efficiency at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) developed a sophisticated data analytics (ODA) system – Operations Monitoring and Notification Infrastructure (OMNI) to provide key operational insights about the data centers performance and energy efficiency.

Presentation

How Hot Can You Go: Raising Operating Temps in Data Centers 2017 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

This session showcased Better Buildings partners who are pushing the boundaries of environmental conditioning in data centers.

To Consolidate or Embed: Improving the Infrastructure of Small Data Centers 2017 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

This session highlighted Better Buildings partner successes in improving the infrastructure of small data centers embedded within larger multi-use buildings, or, when that is not possible, the process of decommissioning them and consolidating the IT resources to larger facilities.

Improving Building Performance with Envelope Technologies 2018 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

This session showcased owner and manager building construction and retrofit experiences while experts from DOE's Envelope Research Team highlighted the newest, promising energy-saving technologies, including dynamic windows, liquid flashing and primer-less air sealants, and integrated wall systems.

Liquid in the Rack: Liquid Cooling Your Data Center 2018 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

As organizations continue to invest in more powerful IT equipment, data center server racks are packing in ever-higher electrical loads. Liquid cooling is a way to handle these higher loads more efficiently. This session explored the possibilities for liquid cooling in the data center industry. Better Buildings partners shared their insights on implementing liquid cooling in their data centers.

Consolidate or Improve? The Small Data Center Question 2018 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

Attendees learned about Better Buildings partners' successes in consolidating their data centers and finding savings.

Data Center Air Management: The First Improvement 2018 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

This training introduced federal, state, and local participants to the highlights of eProject Builder, DOE's national database for recording and managing Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) projects.

Soaking Up Energy Savings from Water Projects 2019 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

This session highlighted projects that have been able to achieve significant energy and water savings through technologies and innovative strategies.

Managing Data Centers in Multi-Use Environments 2015 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

This presentation addresses the challenges encountered while implementing energy efficiency improvements in existing data centers within multi-use buildings. 

ISO 50001: Energy Management Systems in the Real World 2019 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

Participants learned how DOE's 50001 Ready and Superior Energy Performance 50001 programs can help them achieve their long-term energy management goals.

PUE Baselining: Methods and Resources 2015 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

In this presentation, DOE provided an overview of PUE baselining strategies that address various challenges reported by Better Buildings Challenge and Accelerator partners.

Get On Board: Engaging Tenants, Franchisees, and Clients in Energy Efficiency 2019 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

This session featured strategies for aligning goals and activities to enable action around energy efficiency among multiple actors, including property management teams with their real estate clients and landlords with their commercial and federal tenants.

The Value Proposition for Data Center Optimization 2015 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

Learn how industry leaders are driving energy and cost savings through a range of solutions. Presentations include summaries of specific technological changes and/or improvements through consolidation and the tangible financial and environmental benefits they produced.

Planning-Barriers-Solutions for Data Center Project Development 2015 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

This presentation addresses the barriers associated with challenging a business-as-usual approach where energy efficiency often takes a back seat to concerns about reliability.

IT Energy Efficiency Opportunities Presentation

IT equipment can be a significant driver for energy use in data centers. This presentation describes new trends and advancements in IT energy efficiency that can help data center managers cut energy costs.

Data Centers Workshop: Renewable Energy Opportunities Presentation

Data center managers are increasingly looking to renewable forms of energy to power their operations. This presentation gives an overview of types of renewable energy, avenues for assistance in developing renewable projects, and ways to evaluate the financial feasibility of renewable energy projects.

Sustainable Data Centers Presentation

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) boasts the most energy efficient data center in the world. This presentation describes the data center, its energy efficient features, and how it was built.

Practical Considerations for Metering and Power Usage Effectiveness Presentation

Intelligent metering is a prerequisite to effectively managing energy use in data centers. This presentation details metering options for different data center configurations to help facilities managers calculate their data centers' power usage effectiveness.

Achieving Data Center Cost Savings Through Renewable Energy 2017 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

This session highlighted success stories from Better Buildings partners that have reduced operating costs in their data centers by taking advantage of on-site and off-site renewable energy opportunities.

Alternative Cooling Solutions in High Tech Buildings 2017 Better Buildings Summit, Presentation

This session focused on cutting edge HVAC solutions Better Buildings partners have implemented in data centers that may be applicable in other building types as well.

Report

Small Data Centers, Big Energy Savings: An Introduction for Owners and Operators Report

The purpose of this brief guide is to present opportunities for small data center owners and operators that generally make sense and do not need expensive assessment and analysis to justify. 

Reducing Data Center Loads for a Large Scale, Low-Energy Office Building Report

This report documents the methodology used to procure, construct, and operate an energy-efficient data center suitable for a net-zero-energy-use building - NREL's Research Support Facility.
 

Air Management in Small Data Centers Report

This report explores air management best practices in small data centers under 5,000 square feet. Good air management in data centers is not only imperative for energy efficiency but also for managing the thermal environment and ensuring equipment reliability.

Showcase Project

Sprint: Core Switch/Regional Data Center Showcase Project

As part of Sprint's Network Vision Plan, efficiency upgrades at this Kansas City building included HVAC variable frequency drive upgrades, a lighting management system and external LED lighting improvements, and DC rectifier upgrades.

NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility Showcase Project

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) completed the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), a new 182,000-square-foot LEED Platinum research facility that includes high bay and laboratory space, office space for about 220 staff, and an ultra-efficient high performance computing (HPC) data center.

No Cost Energy-Savings Measures at a 1 MW Data Center Showcase Project

Located in Northern Virginia, this 1 MW capacity data center is operated by an agency within the Department of Justice. Various HVAC and chiller setting adjustments didn't come with a cost but brought 46% savings in PUE-1.

Intuit: Quincy Facility Energy Upgrades Showcase Project

Intuit undertook steps to reduce the energy intensity at the Quincy data center, including adjusting set points on the chilled water and implementing "chimneys" to better control the flow of air around the server racks. These measures found a 21% savings in energy.

Sabey Data Centers: Intergate Quincy, Building C Showcase Project

By requiring customers to utilize hot aisle containment and by installing variable and efficient infrastructure, Sabey achieved a perfect ENERGY STAR® score of 100 and a 57% reduction in energy use.

Schneider Electric: Distributed Site Consolidation and Continuous Energy Efficiency Improvement Showcase Project

Schneider Electric sought a 30-50% reduction in data center operations costs attributed to energy consumption, so it consolidated one primary legacy data center and multiple distributed data centers into a modern facility that offered greater reliability and energy efficiency.

Data Center Optimization at NREL Research Support Facility Showcase Project

In order to maintain the facility's net-zero energy status, NREL improved the efficiency of the Research Support Facility's data center by upgrading outdated IT equipment, consolidating blade centers, and improving the metering system among other best practices. As a result, the data center achieved an 84% reduction in PUE.

Retro-commissioning at LBNL's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center Showcase Project

The National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory outgrew its former data center space and underwent a retro-commissioning process to meet the data center's growing needs.

Liquid Cooling Success at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s 50B-1275 Data Center Showcase Project

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (LBNL) enterprise data center used for in-house needs and scientific computing, was rebuilt in the mid-1990s and has continued to undergo a series of transitions and energy efficiency upgrades to meet increased demand.

Solutions at a Glance

Sabey Data Centers: Workforce Development Partnership with Big Bend Community College Guidance

Sabey Data Centers partnered with Big Bend Community College to develop a Data Center Training Program that prepares students for the Information Technology and facility management jobs critical to successfully maintaining data centers.

Video

Energy efficiency elevator pitch with Dave Breland of Intuit Video

Energy efficiency elevator pitch with Dave Breland of Intuit

Webinar

Big Results in Small Places: Exploring the Untapped Energy Efficiency Potential of Small Data Centers Webinar

This webinar explained why small data centers shouldn't be overlooked when it comes to energy efficiency, and how low-cost, high-win strategies can reduce energy demand.

Taking Control: Energy Data Management and Tools for Success Webinar

This webinar featured state, local, and commercial sector partners sharing best practices on energy data management, and also introduced DOE's Energy Data Management Guide.

Air Management Solutions for Small to Medium Sized Data Centers Webinar

This webinar focused on how small data centers can develop air management best practices and see a reduction in infrastructure energy costs.

Rethinking Leasing: Spotlight on the 2019 Green Lease Leaders Webinar

The Green Lease Leaders program shines a spotlight on innovative landlord and tenant companies that add energy efficiency and sustainability clauses to their leases. This webinar recognized the 2019 Green Lease Leaders who are pushing the envelope on building performance and energy-aligned leasing.

Taming the Energy Hog: What Every Organization Should Know to Address Data Center Energy Use Webinar

Watch this webinar to learn how Better Buildings Challenge and Accelerator partners have formed partnerships within their organizations and implemented measures to dramatically reduce data center energy usage.