To say that energy efficiency is important in the context of a data center is something of an understatement. The Federal Energy Management Program that was created under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, for example, outlines recommendations for ways that data centers can reduce energy consumption by between 20% and 40% just by applying best management energy-efficiency measures and strategies.
While it's true that a lot of these recommendations are aimed towards newly constructed data centers, there are also a number of key ways to see these gains in facilities that already exist. One of the most important aspects of any data in terms of both safety and productivity is lighting. LED lighting fixtures and similar solutions are the perfect way to maximize operational efficiency in a straightforward, cost-effective and non-disruptive way.
TIA Data Center Lighting Requirements
According to TIA-942-A, it is recommended that all data centers adopt a three-level approach to energy efficient lighting. These break down as follows:
An unoccupied data center. At this stage, lighting should be configured in a way that allows video surveillance and other security equipment to be used effectively, but does not necessarily require lighting to facilitate actual employee work.
Initial entry into a data center. At this stage, energy efficient motion sensors should activate lights in the immediate area soon after an employee enters. All aisles and passageways should also be illuminated. This is intended to not only provide safe passage through these areas, but also to allow for proper identification of visitors by security equipment.
Occupied space. These are the spaces that people will actually be working in and TIA-942-A recommends lighting that maximizes maintenance or interaction with equipment. Lighting should be at least 500 lux in the horizontal plane and 200 lux in the vertical plane.
The Major Benefits of LED Lighting Fixtures
LED lighting fixtures generate a number of important benefits right away that go beyond lower utility bills. The fixtures themselves last for approximately 50,000 hours, or roughly four times as long as "traditional" fluorescent lighting. LED fixtures can also help significantly reduce the cooling capacity demands of an environment because they generate a much lower heat load than alternatives.
Another one of the most significant benefits of LED lighting fixtures comes by way of the state-of-the-art techniques that you can use to control them. Many fixtures are built with automation in mind, both of which go a long way towards making sure the lighting creates the safest environment possible and increasing the energy efficiency of a data center even further.
With "Follow Me Lighting," LED light fixtures will turn on and off as a person enters and exits a particular space. This requires no interaction on behalf of the employee - the system uses advanced sensors to determine when someone is present and when they're not, making appropriate adjustments accordingly. Vacancy sensors can also be employed to similar effect - these allow an employee to turn the lights in a space on, but they will turn off automatically as soon as the space is unoccupied.
Energy efficiency in a data center isn't just important because it's "the right thing to do" for our environment. It helps keep the overall cost of running and maintaining a data center down, which goes a long way towards increasing profit margins AND the quality of service that facilities are able to offer to their clients at the exact same time. From that perspective, it's hard to make an argument against the move to solutions like LED lighting fixtures - particularly as data centers are going to become a more essential part of our future as more and more people make the jump to cloud computing.