Prototype energy models for data centers

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Journal Article

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Data centers in the United States consume about two percent of the nation’s electricity. Because heat gains from IT equipment drive cooling demand, data centers offer unique opportunities for energy savings. However, no prototype energy model for data centers is available in the suite of existing U.S. Department of Energy’s Commercial Prototype Building Models. This study presented the development of two new data center prototype models and their implementation in OpenStudio and EnergyPlus. The small-size data center model represents a computer room in a building served by computer room air conditioners (CRACs); while the large-sized model represents stand-alone data centers served by computer room air handlers (CRAHs) with a central chiller plant. For each data center model, two levels of IT equipment (ITE) load density were considered, to cover the wide range of IT power density of data centers: 40 and 100 W/ft2 (430 and 1,076 W/m2) for the computer room, and 100 and 500 W/ft2 (1,076 and 5,382 W/m2) for the stand-alone data center. All other assumptions, such as building envelope, lighting, HVAC efficiencies and schedules, were based on the minimal requirements of ASHRAE Standard 90.1 at various vintages. We introduced a novel concept of supply and return air approach temperatures to capture the essential effects of non-uniform airflow and temperature distribution in data centers. The approach temperatures were pre-computed by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations for various configurations of ITE loads and airflow containment management in data centers. A new feature was developed in EnergyPlus to implement the approach temperature method. A case study was conducted to demonstrate the use of the data center models. The two data center models cover all U.S. climate zones and can be used to evaluate energy saving measures for data centers, as well as to support development of data center energy efficiency codes and standards.


Energy and Buildings



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