GM reduces data center energy consumption by 70%

Maija Krizmane

General Motors claims that energy consumption in their newly built Detroit data center will be 70% less than comparable data centers using conventional technologies. The building received LEED Gold certification, a rating rarely achieved by data centers across the U.S. To date, only 54 data centers have achieved LEED Gold or Platinum certification.

Every internet gadget and tool accounts for a small percentage of energy consumption that all together can really add up – a single data center can equal the energy consumption of 180,000 homes. The high costs of this huge energy demand encourages the host companies of such data centers to apply energy efficiency technologies in order to reduce the load.

By exploring the technologies used in facilities of major high-tech and electrical companies in the U.S., GM was able to identify a suite of solutions towards increasing energy efficiency in their data center, including:

  • A backup energy system, the equivalent of 12,000 car batteries, powered by a diesel engine and a flywheel. Emissions, noise pollution and fuel consumption were significantly reduced and heating and cooling load for maintaining the optimal ambient temperature for the batteries was eliminated;
  • Thanks to the cool climate of Michigan, the facility can be chilled naturally just by using outside air, allowing for the cooling system to be powered down for much of the year;
  • Power is distributed at higher voltages allowing transformers to be eliminated and reducing power loss by 17%.
Maija Krizmane
USGBC Research Fellow, CHP engineer, M.Sc. Heat, Gas and Water technologies, focused on efficient energy production and distribution on different levels and scales.

Related resources and references

GM’s LEED Gold Data Center Drives IT Efficiency  General Motors