NTT Com shares secrets to cutting 60% power usage at FDC2

Steven So, Vice President of Data Center Business, NTT Com AsiaNTT Com's Financial Data Center Tower 2 (FDC2) has recently become the first data center in Hong Kong and China to obtain the LEED-CS 2009 Platinum level certification, which awards the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings.

FDC2 is phase 2 of NTT Com's Tier-IV-ready financial data center located in Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate. The company has previously attained LEED-CS 2009 Gold for its Financial Data Center Tower 1 (FDC1), and LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance Silver for its Tai Po Data Center.

The LEED certification addresses seven categories, namely Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation in Design, and Regional Priority.

Biggest challenge

FDC2 achieved "outstanding" performance in the categories of water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, indoor environmental quality, innovation in design, and regional priority, and has attained the full 21 points in the "EAc1 Optimize Energy Performance" category, said Steven So (pictured), vice president of data center business, NTT Com Asia.

The EAc1 Optimize Energy Performance category measures the excellence of a green building in the design and operation of energy efficiency. NTT Com earlier reported that FDC2 has contributed to the significant minimization of energy consumption of about 60% per year.

In an interview with Computerworld Hong Kong, So discussed the most challenging metric to fulfill among the seven LEED certification categories, and what approach NTT Com adopted to address the challenges.

"Sustainable Sites was one of the most challenging metrics to meet," said So. The Sustainable Sites metric measures whether a data center poses adverse environmental impact to the site, such as heat island, light pollution, solar access to green space, etc.

"Decisions regarding these matters have to be planned from the very beginning of the project, and cannot be decided halfway through the design process," So said. "To reduce the energy use, carbon footprint and environmental impact, we adopted the 'Think Sustainability from the Project Start' approach."

Renewable energy sources

To reduce the energy use, carbon footprint and any negative impact on the environment by FDC1 and FDC2, and to align with NTT Group's "Eco Strategy 2030," NTT Com turned to renewable energy sources, as well as green measures and facilities.

"In general, for a sub-tropical city Hong Kong, solar electricity generation is a comparatively viable choice among the renewable energy sources," So said. For FDC1 and FDC2, NTT Com has installed solar panels in the two data centers to power some of the facilities, such as the hot water heating system. Other green measures and facilities at the two data centers include electrical vehicle charging facilities, rain water recycling, smart lighting system and water-side economization.

"We have adopted wide-ranging green innovations including renewable energy at our data center worldwide, apart from the two FDCs in Hong Kong," So said. For example, the Singapore Serangoon Data Center (a LEED Gold certified data center), uses solar panels to provide electricity for all the irrigation works and lighting to the plants and water feature in the building. Another example is its Chennai Data Center in India (the first LEED Gold certified data center in India), which uses wind energy to power and successfully to be 11-13% cheaper than the power provided by the state utility, and almost half the cost of energy from a diesel generator.

Reducing customers' data center costs

The LEED certification of FDC2 is said to help businesses in China and overseas that are highly concerned about data center energy efficiency to reduce costs and operate in an eco-friendly, socially responsible manner, by optimizing their total cost of ownership (TCO) and increasing energy efficiency.

To put in context, a rack that occupies 80 square feet consumes around 4,000 kWh of electricity per month. This equals to the combined consumption of 10 Hong Kong households on a monthly basis. Power cost accounts for up to 60% among data center cost split, and it's on the rise, according to So.

"That is why FDC2 is designed with energy efficient design. Using server virtualization, NTT Com has successfully minimized energy consumption of about 60% or 510,000,000 kWh per year in the LEED certification process. This is equivalent to a reduction of 357,000 tons of CO2 emission," he added.

Some of the "energy efficient innovative technologies" being implemented in FDC2 include:

1) Cooling wall -- Introduced to Hong Kong for the first time, this thermal management solution features a new front-flow cooling system that is designed to optimize both energy usage and the cost of the data center, by increasing energy efficiency by over 20% compared with traditional cooling systems;

2) Cooling battery -- Touted as the first of its kind and the biggest stratified type thermal energy storage system in Hong Kong, the twin column cooling battery is designed to maintain the server room at a stable temperature and humidity within the operating range of ASHRAE during utility power interruptions. It provides a total of 3,600,000 liters of chilled water for 42 minutes of backup time to override up to six cycles of chiller restart; and

3) Water-side economization -- "FDC2 can enjoy free cooling in a sub-tropical environment like Hong Kong," said So. When the wet-bulb temperature is lower than 10.5 degree Celsius, the chiller system will be shut down to save energy and the cooling tower utilized directly for chilled water cooling. This improves the entire chiller plant efficiency and reduces energy consumption. This energy efficiency measure collectively brings the annualized PUE down to below 1.5 during full load conditions, according to So.

To further optimize the energy efficiency of FDC2, NTT Com adopts a digitization and big data approach for end-to-end data center lifecycle management, by integrating building information modeling (BIM) information and data with its data center management system (DCMS). "With these, customers can gain enhanced service visibility to real-time and historical data center performance such as power, cooling and energy efficiency via the customer portal 'Virtual Data Center' to enable informative decision making as well as strategy planning," So added.