Despite Growing Carbon Emission Rates Worldwide, GE’s Kentucky Data Center Takes Exception

August 19, 2011 / William Thomson, Green Homes Expert

GE Appliances & Lighting has opened a new data center at its Kentucky Appliance Park headquarters, which uses lesser power and lowers environmental impact, while providing computing power to support major product and infrastructure investments.

Despite Growing Carbon Emission  Rates Worldwide, GE’s Kentucky Data Center Takes Exception

GE said the data center is 34 percent better than a typical code-compliant building in terms of energy savings, as compared to the ASHRAE 90.1 building code for energy efficiency.

The data center is the first such facility in Kentucky to achieve LEED-Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council. The Platinum rating represents only 6 percent of all LEED certifications ever granted by USGBC, which previously announced its membership as Organizational Stakeholder of the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) global network of organizations and companies that are promoting transparency, accountability and sustainable development.

GE noted a 2007 report from CNET stating that data center emissions worldwide were growing faster than many other types of carbon emissions.

“In fact, a McKinsey & Company study estimates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from data centers will quadruple to exceed emissions from the airline industry by 2020 compared with the 2008 peaks, due to the rapid growth in global demand for computing power,” GE said.

Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), said: “Given the amount of energy data centers consume, achieving LEED Platinum will help GE reduce its environmental footprint, while moving the industry forward in its effort to reduce the global environmental impact of IT operations.”

In addition to installing cooling systems, GE is installing high-density servers to pack more computing power per square foot, which reduces the size of the data center floor by half compared to the data center it replaces, meaning less energy is needed to cool the space.

Against the industry baseline established in Energy Policy Act of 1992, GE is reducing water consumption inside the building by 42 percent through the installation of ultra low-flow fixtures.

Outside the building, GE installed no permanent irrigation system, reducing water consumption by 100 percent for landscaping purposes.

GE is matching 35 percent of the data center’s predicted annual energy consumption with renewable-energy certificates to help offset emissions. Green-e accredited Tradable Renewable Certificates (RECs) equal to 35 percent of predicted annual energy consumption over a two-year period.

“As GE invests in the business and creates more manufacturing jobs in the U.S., our new high-efficiency data center will help us manage energy costs so we can compete in a global marketplace,” said Alan Kocsi, chief information officer, GE Appliances & Lighting.

“GE’s new data center will also provide the high-density computing necessary to support global business growth and significant manufacturing-revitalization efforts that will provide customers with innovative technologies, high-quality products, and better customer service.”

Rather than building the new data center from scratch, GE revitalized an existing building for the new data center and maintained 98.3 percent of the walls, floors and roof of unutilized factory space.

GE also received LEED credit for sourcing 50.7 percent of construction materials regionally, including materials and/or products extracted, harvested or recovered, as well as manufactured within 500 miles of the project site, building with 30.2 percent recycled materials and diverting 85.4 percent of on-site generated construction waste from the landfill.

GE invested in the first commercial UNIVAC computer in the early 1950s when Appliance Park opened, and it is now with that same pioneering spirit that GE is preparing for future growth. The data center nests servers designed to operate at 18 to 24 kilowatts (kW) per cabinet, compared to the industry average of 4 to 7 kW per cabinet.

The new data center will also support GE Appliances’ $1 billion investment to upgrade all of its major appliance product lines and create Manufacturing Centers of Excellence, which combined will create 1,300 U.S. jobs by 2014.

It will also operate information systems that enable technology and manufacturing teams to run state-of-the-art factories and implement Lean manufacturing processes that improve operational efficiencies to drive down cost; improve customer service through increased fill rates and better billing systems; and enhance product quality and innovation.

GE Appliances & Lighting leveraged cutting-edge data center technologies from GE Energy’s Industrial Solutions and Digital Energy businesses, including Digital Energy’s supply (UPS) units with eBoost technology that enables data centers to achieve up to 99 percent UPS efficiency, without sacrificing reliability.  Industrial Solutions provided Entellysis low-voltage switchgear and power-quality systems.

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