Every hot trend needs an icebreaker. When it comes to green data centers, a key pioneer was the Fannie Mae Technology Center in Urbana, Md., which in 2005 became the first data center to earn certification under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, a voluntary energy efficiency rating for commercial buildings.
Fannie Mae (FNM) estimated this week that it has realized $1.7 million in energy savings - a 35 percent cost reduction - in the facility's first five years of operations. Is that $1.7 million savings cost-effective compared to the cost of LEED certification? Fannie Mae reportedly invested about $130 million building the data center, which earned 28 LEED points.
No Road Map
But at the time there were no precedents for data centers achieving LEED status, meaning the agency had to create its own road map. "When it was decided that Fannie Mae's data center should be constructed to meet LEED requirements, there was a host of challenges for the architects and engineers because there was no previous model to follow," said Edward Watson, Executive Vice President of Operations and Technology for Fannie Mae.
"We're pleased that the energy-saving features that earned the prestigious LEED certification have helped Fannie Mae be more environmentally responsible and cut costs as well," Watson said.
Leading With Water Conservation
Some of the biggest gains have been in water management. A unique irrigation design that uses waste water from the cooling plant and captured rain water allows the facility to reduce the load on the municipal water system by 13,000 gallons per day, which adds up to23 million gallons over five years. The building also features a 175,000 gallon thermal storage tank.
The 247,000 square foot data center includes 120,000 square feet of office space adn an 130,000 square foot data center. The facility is supported by six 2 megawatt generators, and six 775-ton chillers.
"Fannie Mae's technology center is an excellent case study of how building projects of varying scopes and scales can achieve energy efficiency," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. "Fannie Mae's early adoption of LEED not only demonstrates their environmental stewardship, but can attest to the simple premise that by consuming less, companies inherently save more and will do so throughout the lifecycle of the building."