Data Center Efficiency and Sustainability Part 1: Reducing Excessive Water Usage

Data Center Efficiency and Sustainability Part 1: Reducing Excessive Water Usage

We rely on data center services constantly to keep us working, connected, and entertained. However, these facilities use significant amounts of energy and water, which have been highlighted by the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and the EPA as an environmental issue.

Data center companies have been pledging to improve sustainable practices, but when it comes to water and energy conservation, they must work closely with their water treatment provider to achieve their ambitious goals.

It is important for the water treatment provider to have the necessary expertise to approach systems holistically and determine the best program to balance protecting equipment while realizing water and energy savings.

Part 1 of this three-part series on data center efficiency focuses on preventing excessive water usage.

Water Usage Efficiency (WUE)

Water-conscious data centers have adopted the water usage efficiency (WUE) metric to monitor and manage their water usage. One way data centers can improve WUE is to stay ahead of excessive water consumption, looking out for critical control parameters in their water treatment program.  

Common Culprits of Excessive Water Consumption

Excessive water usage can come from several key areas:

  • Unchecked cooling tower overflow
  • Poor conductivity control
  • Target cycles of concentration

Unchecked overflow or consistently running a cooling tower program at unnecessarily low cycles of concentration can cost a data center millions of gallons of water per year.

Consider a single 500-ton system running at an average annual load of 65%. Running the system at 2.0 cycles of concentration instead of a higher 3.0 cycles of concentration consumes an additional 1.94 million gallons of water per year*. 

A key part of data center water treatment is to regularly analyze the incoming makeup water and set cooling tower program control ranges that minimize water consumption without putting the system at risk of scaling. 

Setting Critical Control Parameters and Alerts

Data centers need water treatment programs designed with water conservation in mind, and it is important to communicate critical control parameters with water treatment partners regularly to mitigate excessive water usage.

Control ranges for water savings metrics such as conductivity and target cycles of concentration can be communicated to data center operators via regular service reports.  Additionally, cooling tower controllers and building management systems can be programmed with alarms to notify operators if key control parameters like conductivity deviate from the narrow control range.

Of course, all systems are different, and due diligence is necessary to determine the feasibility for utilizing these methods. Always consult your equipment manuals and guides.

Sustainability Assessment

Want to know where you can make the most impact in improving WUE? ChemTreat is offering a free sustainability assessment and report to help you identify where and how you’re using water. We can also provide key recommendations to help you achieve your water and energy savings goals. Click the link below to claim your free audit!

*Based on calculations made in ChemTreat’s CTVista®+ Cooling Configurator and Calculator

Meet the Expert:

Valerie Richter

Industry Technical Consultant

Valerie Richter graduated from Rutgers University and began her career in medical research. Shifting to water treatment in 2012, she was heavily involved in new construction and system startup across multiple industries. Now, consulting in raw and wastewater applications as well as cooling and boiler, she maintains a research-based approach to troubleshooting and is involved in multiple R&D projects and training development efforts. She is passionate about sustainability and finding environmentally friendly solutions.