FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) today celebrated the grand opening of its first environmentally sustainable (“green”) data center, located adjacent to the FedEx Rocky Mountain Tech Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Based on the application of a number of green design standards, the Enterprise Data Center–West (EDC-W) can be counted among the most energy efficient data centers in the U.S.
Phase 1 of the construction of the 140,000 square foot building began in 2006 and was completed in 2008. Phase 2 upgraded the existing data center infrastructure and added an additional 26,000 square feet. Recently, FedEx applied for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification of the EDC-W. LEED certification is the benchmark for buildings that are designed, constructed and operated sustainably.
“The EDC-W represents a major milestone in our strategy to leverage advanced technologies for the benefit of our customers and to position FedEx for future growth,” says Kevin M. Humphries, senior vice president of Information Technology for FedEx Services. “We now have a technology model that, going forward, will improve productivity, enhance reliability and help reduce our impact on the environment.”
A major challenge to operating a green data center is the amount of energy it requires to maintain a consistently cool temperature for the computing environment. The EDC-W was constructed with a range of redundant mechanical and electrical systems that yield a high level of energy efficiency while reducing costs. For example, variable frequency drives, used by the mechanical systems, can fine tune the amount of power consumed according to the level of demand.
One method of measuring the energy efficiency of a data center is by calculating the power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio.
PUE measures the amount of electricity needed to power the cooling systems, lights, etc. versus the amount of electricity used to run the computing environment. According to the Uptime Institute, the typical data center has an average PUE of 2.5. The EDC-W PUE is 1.28, with a ratio of “1.0” indicating perfect efficiency.
The Green Grid, of which FedEx is a member,developed the PUE. The organization collaborated with the US Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Program and others to define a common set of metrics to measure data center efficiency.
Another energy saver is the Colorado Springs climate. The low humidity and cooler air provides the data center with “free cooling.” In fact, FedEx anticipates that the data center will benefit from more than 5,000 hours of “free cooling” during a normal year.
During the construction phase, crews diverted over 75 percent of the construction waste from a landfill. Additionally, nearly 11 percent of the building products were extracted and regionally produced and more than 14 percent of other materials contain recycled content. These are only a few of the earth-friendly initiatives that comprise the data center’s environment.
Over the next three years, FedEx technology teams will move core systems and applications from the Customer Technology Center (CTC) in Memphis to Colorado Springs. The massive migration of data, already in progress, will require thousands of hours of work to ensure the successful implementation of the simplified and consolidated infrastructure.
The EDC-W is equipped with multiple redundancies to maintain a constant availability of power. The building is connected to two separate utility sub-stations that can easily be switched from one to the other, if required. To ensure total reliability, nearly 2,000 batteries can keep the data center running for a sufficient period of time at full load, giving eight onsite generators more than enough time to power up.
The EDC-W is a model of sustainability, efficiency and reliability in data center operations and will serve the company’s technological needs well into the future.