Issue 2 - September 2006

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Welcome to the second issue of High Tech News, a periodic e-newsletter describing the latest research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) on high-performance buildings for high-tech industries. The newsletter focuses on raising the energy performance of critical facilities such as data centers, cleanrooms, and laboratories. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send email here.

General Interest

Rediscovering Green Design (by Bill Tschudi)

Designing a safe, functional facility system and considering all associated costs always has been part of the engineering design process. In the search for green-design measures, sometimes, sound practices from the past are rediscovered. A friend of mine recently told me he realized he was a green designer when someone pointed out that the use of free cooling was a green-design measure. My friend did not know he was part of this culture when he implemented free cooling in a cleanroom design more than 20 years ago, thinking it simply was good engineering practice. Other examples of “lost” best practices include optimizing airflow and commissioning. Some practitioners are realizing that we have been green for a long time and did not know it. Others are rediscovering an art that has been lost for a generation. Read the full HPAC Engineering article here. [contact: Bill Tschudi]


Data Centers

Direct-Current Power for Data Centers of the Future

LBNL, Ecos Consulting, and EPRI Solutions recently orchestrated two pioneering demonstrations — hosted by Sun Microsystems — one where direct current (DC) is distributed at the facility level to racks of computers that have been modified to directly accept high voltage DC and another where the DC power conversion occurs at the rack level and DC is then directly distributed to servers within the rack. In typical data centers, the loss in electrical power through conversions of alternating current (AC) to DC to AC to DC occurs for all power flowing to the IT equipment. Efficiency gains have a magnifying effect by reducing need for HVAC (e.g. 10% saving at the UPS level could mean 10% saving for the entire data center, compared to a very efficient AC baseline case and assuming the HVAC system consumes as much power as the IT equipment). A dedicated website provides more information: [Contact: Bill Tschudi]


Self-Paced Data Center Training Tool

Improving the energy efficiency of data centers can save hundreds of thousandImage of a data centers of dollars each year, which makes the business more competitive and operations more reliable.  LBNL has just completed a website offering tools and information to capture cost-effective savings opportunities during the design of new data centers or the retrofit of existing ones. The site enables users to:

  • Diagnose Energy Inefficiencies and Rate a Data Center's "Energy IQ" — by comparing a subject data center to the benchmarking results for top performers
  • Specify State-of-the-art Solutions — using detailed guides to 67 best practices
  • Generate Clear Design Intent Documents — using a pre-defined design intent tool "template" for recording data center energy efficiency goals, objectives, and strategies
  • Evaluate Cost-Effectiveness — by considering both the "straight economics" of energy efficiency improvements, as well as non-energy benefits that are central to making the business case for investing in improved efficiency
  • Explore Real-world Examples — showing the application of best practices and the magnitude of savings that can result
  • Calculate Impacts and Savings — using practical software tools to help achieve energy savings and make the economic case to decision-makers and managers at the data centers
  • Stay on the Cutting Edge — with information on leading-edge research and new technologies just emerging in the marketplace
  • Identify Promising Applications — by following a series of exercises to evaluate real data centers
  • Learn More — using links to an extensive body of resources from the trade press and research institutions

Visit the tool online. [Contact: Evan Mills]



The Molecular Foundry: A Federal Showcase

Completed in 2006, LBNL's Molecular Foundry is a state-of-the-art 6-story, 94,500 square-foot, $67 million User Facility for Nanoscale Materials, dedicated to supporting research in nanoscience by researchers from institutions around the world. Users from academia, government and industrial laboratories with funded projects may write proposals requesting free access to the state-of-the-art instruments or techniques housed in the Foundry or to the highly skilled staff. From an energy- and water-management standpoint, this is a remarkable project in that it embodies best practices in the three major “high-tech” facility types, specifically wet and dry laboratories, a cleanroom, and a data center.  Each of these spaces is highly resource-intensive and poses greater sustainability challenges than ordinary spaces. It is rare to find all three facility types under one roof. This project is the most comprehensive “Green” building constructed in LBNL’s site’s 75-year history, and the first to apply for a U.S. Green Building Council “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) certification. The facility has among the lowest electricity intensities of 56 projects currently included in the Labs21 benchmarking database, and is responsible for 85% fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than a conventional facility meeting the ASHRAE 90.1 energy standards. Thanks to right-sizing of the mechanical systems, all of this was achieved at no net cost compared to typical practice. The project is winner of a 2006 Federal Energy Showcase Award, which recognizes recognizes buildings that take a comprehensive approach to energy management, and stand out as exceptional models of energy efficiency, innovation, and sustainable design. [Contact: Dale Sartor


News From the Hood

This department continues the tradition of LBNL’s News From the Hood Newsletter—covering the latest work on the energy efficient Berkeley Fume Hood for laboratory-type facilities—which we are now merging with High-Tech News.  Back issues of NFTH can be found here.

Berkeley Lab Fume Hood is Licensed for Manufacture

Esco Micro Pte Ltd. has recently concluded an exclusive license to design, manufacture and sell energy-efficient fume hoods for use in laboratories that are based upon research and prototypes developed at Berkeley Lab (a.k.a. The Berkeley Hood).

The technology invented by researchers in the Facilities and Environmental Energy Technologies Divisions could save up to 75 percent of energy over traditional hoods and reduce the need for expensive control systems.

We are very pleased that Esco is commercializing this important technology and look forward to their success. For additional information on the availability of their forthcoming hood, please contact Lawrence Ng at Esco. For more info, check here. [LBNL Contact: Geoffrey Bell]

See the Animation.



Demand-Controlled Filtration Saves Energy in Cleanrooms

LBNL has developed a methodology for controlling cleanroom airflow based upon contamination levels in the room.  Using commercially available particle counters, fan speeds are directly controlled by sensing particle counts in real time (rather than full-time, full-speed ventilation based on little more than rules of thumb.) Since fan energy varies with the cube of fan speed, small changes in fan speed will lead to large changes in fan energy. In a pilot study, LBNL implemented the strategy in a 300 ft2 ISO class 5 cleanroom, measuring particle concentrations using multiple particle counting instruments while changing recirculation system fan speeds.  The results validated our expectation that DCF can save energy, i.e. higher fan speeds (step curve to left) do not necessarily mean lower particle counts (jagged curve to left). There may be an optimum recirculation fan speed that is unique to each facility and/or processes occurring in each facility.  Following the pilot study, the strategy was demonstrated in an industrial cleanroom where again, large energy savings were realized through lower air flow when contamination levels were low. Other control strategies using timers and occupancy sensors were also demonstrated and similarly showed the potential for energy savings. In a previous study we estimated that implementing DCF had a payback time of 1 to 4 years. More information here. [Contact: David Faulkner]


Helping Cleanroom Users Specify Efficient Fan Filter Units

Much of the energy in cleanrooms (and minienvironments) is consumed by 2x4 or 4x4 foot fan-filter units--typically located in the cleanroom ceiling (25-100% coverage)--which deliver recirculated air to the clean spaces. LBNL has developed the first-ever standard energy test method for FFUs, which is being adopted by IEST Working Group 36 as a critical portion of industry standard- IEST RP CC036.1. The procedure quantifies pressure efficiency and power consumption across a range of pressure drop and flows. Using this method, LBNL has tested 17 FFUs thus far from manufacturers in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Among these we have seen power consumption ranging from 100 to 400 watts per FFU, and huge variations in efficiencies (in excess of ten-times) depending operating conditions, defined in terms of air flow rates (or velocity) and pressure loss elsewhere in recirculation system. Also, for a given typical operating condition we have observed a factor of three or more variation in energy efficiency. Ultimately, the LBNL procedure will be used by specifiers and owners, as well as utilities seeking to promote energy efficient FFUs. For the design and construction of large cleanrooms, Texas Instruments and Seagate have required FFU suppliers to perform the LBNL tests. More information here. [Contact: Tim Xu


Recent Publications

For a full list of publications, see here:


PIER logo Lab 21 logo CIEE logo  NYSERDA logo

The publication of research results within the newsletter does not constitute an endorsement of any particular entity, product, manufacturer, consultant, etc. by LBNL or its sponsors.

Editor: Evan Mills