From the beginning of the project, the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center project team aimed to reduce the energy intensity of the computing center. The following energy conservation measures were vetted during the design process and implemented as part of the MGHPCC.
The MGHPCC uses a “free cooling” system with water side economization. For more than 70% of the year, the water in the close-coupled cooling system for the MGHPCC computer room will be cooled by heat exchangers that are supplied with cooling tower water. The facility will only need to use its chillers 30% of the time.
Hot aisle containment:
Hot aisle containment increases cooling efficiency by reducing the distance between the computers and the cooling units to less than 2 feet. It also prevents hot air generated by the computers from mixing with cold air from the in-row cooling units, which further improves the efficiency of the cooling system.
Controllability of Systems:
The in-row cooling units use internal sensors to control their operation.
Controllability of Systems:
Occupants in the office areas are able to adjust airflow to meet their needs with individualized controls at their workstations.
Occupancy sensors are installed in all spaces to turn the lights on or off based on actual occupancy. The occupancy sensor time delay is set at 15 minutes to shut-off lights.
Daylight-Harvesting Dimming Controls:
Daylight sensors are installed in the administration windowed area. These sensors dim the lighting up or down in response to the amount of supplemental sunlight entering the space.
High Voltage Power Distribution:
The MGHPCC uses a high voltage power distribution system, which increases efficiency while operating within voltage ranges that are supported by all modern computing equipment. Higher distribution voltages mean lower current for the same amount of power, which reduces energy loss and heat generation in the wiring. Higher distribution voltages also make it possible to eliminate an entire tier of transformers from the facility, which reduces energy losses, saves space, and reduces capital cost.
Landscape and Site
The site is part of downtown Holyoke’s former industrial district and was first used for manufacturing textiles in the 1880s. The site has also endured other operations, such as tool, cutlery, steam pump, and trolley track manufacturing. These uses have led to a contamination of the site, which was remediated as part of this project.
Additional site improvements included adding native and adapted vegetation as part of the planned landscape — i.e. Inkberry, Sweetgale, and Meadowsweet. This planting, as well as other native plants, were particularly useful in the creation of several bioretention areas. Bioretention systems are used to remove contaminants and sedimentation from stormwater runoff. In addition, these systems are instrumental preventing erosion and slowing stormwater runoff to allow enough time for water to infiltrate into the soli.
The project also benefits from a number of other strategies associated with decreasing the building users’ dependency on personal motor vehicles. For examples, the site is located near several public bus stations, which provide an alternative mode of transportation for building users. Bicycle racks and preferred parking spaces were added for occupants who drive a low-emitting or fuel-efficient vehicle to work. These types of vehicles are defined as vehicles that have at least a minimum green score of 40 according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.
Plumbing Systems and Potable Water Use Reduction
Plantings were selected so that the site does not require a permanent irrigation system. This saves both resources and finances that would normally be need to maintain the landscape. Additionally, this measure helps save the cost associated with installing and maintaining the irrigation system itself.
The project installed a number of water fixtures that contribute to an estimated water savings of 33% in indoor potable water use as compared to EPAct 1992. THat’s an estimated water savings of 26,680 gallons of water. Water efficient water closets with a flush rate of 1.28 gpf were used (saving approximately 6,000 gallons of water per year). Also, waterless urinals were put in place. These fixtures use a sealing liquid that is less dense than urine. Therefore, the urine sinks through the oil, trapping the odor below the oil layer and preventing it from escaping out into the rest of the bathroom. Without the need for water, these fixtures help save 11,320 gallons of water per year.
The MGHPCC serves the community by providing meeting, workshop and classroom space with state-of-the-art audio-visual and internet capabilities. Partnerships with the Holyoke Public Schools, Holyoke Community College, and other local organizations are fostering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education at the facility and throughout the community. Programs will included teaching, training, certifications and professional development, resulting in more knowledgeable students and skilled workers. THe MGHPCC is a key member of the Holyoke Innovation Task Force., and city-led group whose charge is to stimulate development in Holyoke by promoting innovation and the creative economy.
Innovative CFD Modeling
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling was used to ensure that its servers, and other equipment were using the cooling energy as efficiently as possible. First, a sample layout of the equipment of top of each other minimized the amount of recirculation of hot air and minimized the by-pass of cold air within the data center. In addition, partitions are utilized in the cold aisles as a way to create a physical separation between the “cold” and “hot” aisles. THese measures helped provide a significant energy savings in the computing areas alone.