New York data center slashes energy usage with LED lighting and controls

Oct. 17, 2017
Energy services company Fairbanks and IT company vXchnge report that a retrofit to LED lighting in a data center combined with autonomous controls has cut annual energy usage by 244,000 kWh.

Energy services company Fairbanks and IT company vXchnge report that a retrofit to LED lighting in a data center combined with autonomous controls has cut annual energy usage by 244,000 kWh.

Fairbanks Energy Services has documented the energy savings attributed to LED lighting and autonomous controls at a Chappaqua, NY data center at 244,000 kWh in one year of operation. Fairbanks worked with IT company vXchnge on the solid-state lighting (SSL) project that delivered the significant energy savings in a 38,000-ft2 while meeting Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) recommended light levels.

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For vXchnge, the LED lighting project was part of its continued commitment to being a green company. The company has stated that it is insistent on meeting the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for “green data centers.” In the case of the Chappaqua project, the partners said the occupancy- and daylight-sensing controls extended energy savings 20% relative to an installation with basic efficient SSL.

Still, as with all lighting projects, it’s the quality of lighting for the people that work under it that is most important. Fairbanks reported that before the retrofit light levels were 15–20 fc below fixtures and as low as 5–10 fc between fixtures. The retrofit can deliver 30–35 fc between fixtures, although that level depends on occupancy and natural light at any given time.

The LED lighting is set to dim to 9–10 fc when a space is vacant for 15 minutes. After 25 minutes, the lights are extinguished. The partners report that based on observations, the lights are on at full output only 10% of the time and even at that level are only 88% of full output. The observations would project that 40% of the time the lights are 50% dimmed and that 50% of the time the lights are off.

Autonomous controls have long been claimed to deliver significant energy savings beyond the benefits of LEDs in certain applications. Digital Lumens set the expectation level years ago, promising 90% energy savings in warehouse applications. Most recently, Digital Lumens was acquired by Osram.

The data center application is not as ripe for energy savings as perhaps a warehouse, but still the advantages of autonomous controls are substantial. “This comprehensive lighting and controls upgrade has resulted in tremendous validated reductions in energy usage and cost that vXchnge and their customers will enjoy for years to come,” said Ross Fairbanks, COO, Fairbanks Energy Services. “We are always delighted to see the benchmarks in an efficiency project achieved. Since completing the retrofit at the Chappaqua data center 12 months ago, the savings have been impressive and a testament to the impact that modern lighting solutions can have on a company’s bottom line.”

Of course, the SSL retrofit delivers far superior lighting relative to the prior fluorescent troffers. The fluorescent lighting had a typical CRI of 65 while the LED lighting has a typical CRI of 80. Apollo Lighting and Supply, based in Holbrook, MA, supplied the 147 LED retrofit kits that were used to upgrade the 2×4 fluorescent troffers.

The data center application is also perhaps symbiotic with other lighting-centric energy-efficiency initiatives. For instance, Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology is broadly used for servers in data centers and increasingly for lighting. Last year, we reported about a Cree PoE LED lighting project in a data center. And Cree and Cisco partnered on another New York PoE project.

About the Author

Maury Wright | Editor in Chief

Maury Wright is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade. Wright first wrote for LEDs Magazine as a contractor in 2010, and took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2012. He has broad experience in technology areas ranging from microprocessors to digital media to wireless networks that he gained over 30 years in the trade press. Wright has experience running global editorial operations, such as during his tenure as worldwide editorial director of EDN Magazine, and has been instrumental in launching publication websites going back to the earliest days of the Internet. Wright has won numerous industry awards, including multiple ASBPE national awards for B2B journalism excellence, and has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University.