EIA: Office with data centers use - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Demand Management, Energy Efficiency  -  October 5, 2016

Report: Offices with data centers use more energy

Graphic courtesy of the  U.S. Energy Information Administration

Results from the U.S. Energy Information Agency's most recent Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey show that office buildings with data centers have significantly higher computing, cooling and total electricity intensity than office buildings without data centers.

While that statement might not be a surprise, the numbers behind it are revealing of just how much energy is required to power data centers in commercial office buildings. The EIA notes that data centers operate around the clock, are typically kept very cool to avoid failures associated with overheating, and may require a dedicated, uninterruptible power supply.

Just how much more energy is used by commercial buildings that have data centers depends somewhat on the size of the building, the report found. 

"In all comparisons, electricity intensity is higher for buildings with data centers, although the differences are smaller in larger buildings," the EIA said in an Oct. 5 blog post. "In addition, some buildings use nonelectric fuels for space cooling where data centers are also likely to raise energy use."

Total electricity intensity in buildings with data centers is 87%, 60% and 20% higher than in buildings without data centers in the 50,000 square feet or less, 50,001–200,000 square feet, and greater than 200,000 square feet categories, respectively, the EIA found. 

Computing electricity intensity — which includes electricity used by servers and data centers, in addition to desktop computers, laptops, and monitors — is 35% higher for buildings greater than 200,000 square feet, and three times higher for all other buildings, the report found. Cooling electricity intensity in buildings with data centers is almost double that of other buildings in the smallest and largest categories of office buildings and triple that of buildings in the 50,001–200,000 square foot category.  

Keywords: data centers, eia

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