SU Launches One of World’s “Greenest” Data Centers

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Data centers consume huge amounts of energy. Unfortunately, they also waste it, with their inefficiency amounting to $2 billion a year in the U.S. alone. Syracuse University—working together with partners IBM and New York State—met this problem head-on with the launch of the Green Data Center, a showcase of world-class innovations in energy-efficient information and building technologies.

From end to end, the Green Data Center uses new ideas to reduce power loss, increase efficiency, and reuse waste energy. An on-site electrical tri-generation system, for example, utilizes an array of natural gas-fueled microturbines to enable the data center to operate completely off-grid, while the latest in IBM computers and computer-cooling technology operate far more efficiently than traditional equipment.

With this combination of new innovations and smarter technologies, the Green Data Center is anticipated to use about 50% less energy than a typical data center in operation today, making it one of the greenest computer facilities in the world. The project was made possible by more than $5 million in equipment, design services, and support from IBM; $2 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; and $500,000 in additional funding secured from New York State by Senator David Valesky.

In addition to serving as SU’s primary computing facility, the Green Data Center houses an analysis and design center where SU and IBM can provide research and analysis services for others who want to build new energy-efficient data centers or optimize the efficiency of their current centers.

And because the innovations pioneered here will also make advances in energy efficiency possible in data centers in emerging countries, the Green Data Center is a perfect example of how cross-sector partnerships—the foundation of Scholarship in Action—can truly change the world.