COLUMBUS, Ohio — Half of all data center cooling systems will be upgraded before the end of 2016, according to Emerson Network Power, a business of Emerson and a provider of critical infrastructure for information and communications technology systems.

A survey of information technology (IT), facilities, and data center managers in the U.S. and Canada, conducted by Emerson Network Power, revealed that while 40 percent of data centers have been upgraded in the past five years, nearly 20 percent are in-process, and about 31 percent will be upgraded in the next 12 months.

Primary drivers behind these upgrades include the need for higher equipment reliability, greater energy efficiency, and additional capacity. The move toward using efficient and sustainable technologies is apparent in upgrade activities. Approximately 39 percent of respondents said upgrades had to meet state energy codes. About 32 percent cited Energy Star, and 23 percent cited Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as requirements for upgrades.

The survey found that 62 percent of the upgrades are occurring in data centers smaller than 10,000 square feet and that 18 percent are in data centers larger than 50,000 square feet.

“Reliable performance and efficiency have always been critical to large data center performance,” said John Peter Valiulis, vice president of thermal management marketing for Emerson Network Power in North America. “As the edge and cloud computing becomes ubiquitous, ensuring the health of cooling systems at smaller, localized data centers and computer rooms is crucial. Thermal upgrades are allowing companies to improve protection, efficiency, and visibility within all these spaces.”

Other findings from the Emerson Network Power survey include:

• 35 percent received energy rebates or planned to, and 75 percent of those who did were able to receive them within six months;

• 43 percent are adding variable-speed drives that allow cooling unit fans to be operated according to changes in airflow requirements instead of running at constant speeds;

• 41 percent are adding or replacing thermal controls to optimize the performance of variable-speed technologies;

• 40 percent are adding economizers to provide free cooling when outside temperatures allow; and

• Getting budget approval was cited as the most difficult challenge in upgrade projects, while configuring thermal controls was the easiest.

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Publication date: 2/1/2016 

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