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Data center solar project covers 11-acre roof with solar panels

i/o Data Centers in Phoenix building out 4.5-megawatt solar farm

By , Network World
December 16, 2009 03:17 PM ET

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"It's an inherent flaw with how the majority of data center space is delivered typically," he says. "The data center developer in the real estate model doesn't share the same burden as their customers. Building an efficient data center is not important to a real estate developer. They're looking to build the cheapest possible facility that someone will lease from them, because the power bills get sent to the customer."

Slessman compares his company to Southwest Airlines, which "actually manages their energy costs, and can still give people $79 one-way tickets to Phoenix, whereas Delta, United or whoever have to raise the prices."

Variable-speed fans, efficient chilled water plants, and a sophisticated air containment strategy all help reduce use of energy, Slessman says.

Slessman explains that i/o Data Centers focuses on containing the cold side of the rack, rather than the hot side.

"We actually do containment on both sides, but the critical component is the cold side containment," he says. In a hot-aisle approach, a data center operator is "cooling the whole room and containing the heat."

Instead, "We let the heat fill the room and we contain the cold air. So we're reducing the volume of air we're rejecting heat from, which at the end of the day is much more efficient than simply containing the heat."

Earlier this month, Slessman appeared at Gartner's Data Center Conference in Las Vegas to discuss i/o Data Centers' solar project and how to build highly efficient and reliable data centers at large scale. There's a simple reason why Slessman spends so much of this time talking about efficiency.

"Clearly, energy is our single largest cost," he says.

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Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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