Data Center Optimization

The Challenge

In 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) initiated the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI), which directs all agencies to deliver better and more cost-effective services to American taxpayers through the consolidation and optimization of Federal IT infrastructure. The VA contacted The Building People to deliver a 5 – year energy master plan for its primary “core” data center – the Austin Information Technology Center (AITC), to help them prepare for a comprehensive consolidation effort across their IT infrastructure and architecture. The VA needed to address several key issues as they planned for the future. These included:

  • How could they work with GSA to coordinate a plan to absorb an additional 2.5 MW of IT load in their facility over the next 5-years?
  • How will they maximize energy efficiency to comply with DCOI and industry best practices?
  • Can the mechanical and electrical infrastructure support this load requirement with the appropriate redundancy levels?

The Solution

The Building People established an iterative charrette process with all relevant stakeholders from the VA and GSA at the outset of each of these three masterplan engagements. Other stakeholders included the local utility, data center, and BAS vendors. Our team worked with these professionals to

establish a mission, vision, and set of strategic objectives that would guide the formulation of the master plan, and build a broad project coalition in advance of the master plan adoption and implementation.

Following the Pre-Development phase, our team performed a comprehensive review of the facility and its operations including:

  • A complete facility condition assessment led by a group of engineers and architects.
  • A smart building assessment performed by The Building Peoples’ in house, industry-leading smart building’s department
  • An energy management and resource usage review performed by in-house certified energy managers (CEMs)
  • A data center management study performed internally by data center efficiency practitioners (DCEPs)
  • A team of internal cost estimators advised on pricing for noted or planned improvements and deficiencies.

Key Takeaways

Our masterplan is guiding facility operations and capital procurements for the next 5 years and provides cost estimations, phasing, sequencing, and expert guidance for over $100M of capital improvements.
These plans include improvements for energy efficiency, prioritized redundancy standards in the mechanical plant and data centers, and a deficiency report noting potential single points of failure in the physical plant, and operations of the facility. 
The plan meets the Uptime Institute industry standards, the VA’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) Program Goals, and advances the needle on DCOI policy objectives.

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