Don’s Corner: “Data Center Efficiency Assessment: Return On Investment (ROI) Summary”

Posted by on October 24, 2011

Don Melchert, Critical Facility Specialist

Understanding where and how one’s energy is being wasted is essential in creating an energy savings plan. However, once armed with this information, it can be difficult and confusing when trying to determine your best Return On Investment (ROI) when choosing one solution over another. The majority of critical facility inspections and evaluations are performed while focusing on only the inner workings of the data center. The goal, for most, is to show how much energy has been saved by making any changes or corrections found during the inspection. Their entire approach is to locate key points in the data center where energy is being wasted or resources are being utilized inefficiently. However, the ability of a critical facility to remain online 100% of the time is the result of all of its Network Critical Physical Infrastructure components working together efficiently, not just what occurs solely in the data center.

A Critical Facility Energy Profile (CFEP) from UNS is different in that the evaluation is holistic, right from the start. A CFEP inspection actually begins from the moment the Critical Facility Specialist arrives at the site. The entire facility and its NCPI components, from its infrastructure to its security, are taken into consideration when establishing an efficiency benchmark. Locating points where efficiency can be improved results in changes that will immediately reduce costs for a business across multiple cost centers.

Any dollar value quoted for the ROI after performance of a CFEP will be false (low), as there is not sufficient data to accurately determine future savings gained from making a particular increase in efficiency. The cost savings is dynamic, as savings in one area increase savings in another and another. Additionally, the associated costs used to calculate a particular savings are constantly in flux due to external factors such as inflation and market value. However, if we dissect and combine particular sections, such as a decrease in energy consumption gained by improving air conditioning efficiency and a change from a legacy UPS to a hot-swappable modular solution, then we can show an approximate savings in dollars for those sections.

Today’s Data Center Managers are using new calculations and turning to solutions that create a stronger Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) score. When evaluating one solution over another, solutions that can increase a company’s PUE while decreasing energy consumption should be chosen over long term solutions as the result is a quicker, and more substantial ROI.

Here is an actual ROI (Return On Investment) Summary Report provided for a recent customer. An ROI Summary Report is included with the CFEP evaluation and provided to the customer.  The customer in this report has been de-identified to the protect the security and privacy of our customer.


“At the current average cost of $.08 per kWH in the state of Virginia, the following calculations have been made to demonstrate your current energy usage compared with what your usage would be if all of the recommended solutions in this CFEP were implemented.

With your current deployment of legacy style data center physical infrastructure of 80kW and a single Liebert CRAC, The “XXXX”  Facility is spending approximately $463,000.00 to support each data center, for a total of $926,000.00, with a PUE of 8.26. PUE is the ratio of energy consumed against how well its being used and is an industry accepted standard in measuring efficiency.

If “XXXX” Facility were to implement all of the money saving solutions listed in the pages of this CFEP, and without decreasing the critical load in any way, the numbers change significantly. With the help of UNS, The “XXXX” Facility could become 37.5% more efficient, your PUE drops to 3.10, and would be spending only $175,000.00 per data center, or $350,000.00 to support both data centers annually. By making efficiency changes in your data center now, The “XXXX” Facility would save approximately $576,000 a year, or assuming the cost of a kilo-watt hour does not increase, $2,880,000 over a 5-year span.”

Learn More:

To learn more about our Data Center Efficiency Assessment Services please visit us at  Please feel free to contact Don Melchert with any questions at or call 918-760-8236.

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