How should we measure Earth Day?

Earth Day is a day to reflect on our planet’s condition and to re-dedicate ourselves to the work that lies ahead. One of the keys to effective conversation is having good metrics that indicate the progress we are making. That’s why we became one of the founding members of The Green Grid, an international consortium of companies dedicated to improving energy efficiencies in data centers and business computing ecosystems. One of the first Green Grid initiatives was to develop standard measures of infrastructure efficiency. As we said in an earlier podcast, there was no standard way to determine if you had a data center that was wasting energy. During its first full year, The Green Grid has been very successful in promoting the first set of these measures: Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency (DCiE) and Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).(PDF link)

DCiE and PUE are reciprocal metrics that describe how efficiently a data center powers and cools its equipment. A DCiE of 33% (the equivalent of a PUE of 3.0) means that 33% of the total power use is going to the data center. A PUE of 3.0 means that 300 watts into the facility in order to deliver 100 watts to the IT equipment. The other 200 watts is overhead. Obviously, efficient data centers look to reduce that.

Why are these measures so important? You can only improve what you can measure. Standardization is essential to the development of benchmarks, which then can be used for improvements. Individual companies cannot do this all alone, which is why The Green Grid is having such a seminal impact on improving efficiency in data centers. DCiE and PUE are just the beginning. We’re looking forward to expanding our work to include data center productivity, methods for assessing data center designs, operations and technologies to improve data center efficiency.

Dell believes The Green Grid helps our customers directly address the power and cooling issues that they face. These efforts, along with our own, will not only increase data center efficiency, but provide the ReGeneration for a much more sustainable computing ecosystem. The February issue of Power Solutions magazine has a number of excellent articles to read (PDF link) that can bring you up to speed.

About the Author: Albert Esser