ND receives Uptime Institute’s Green Enterprise IT Award

by Lenette Votava

Kenneth Brill and Paul Brenner

The University of Notre Dame is a recipient of a 2009 Green Enterprise IT (GEIT) Award, presented by the Uptime Institute and co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Award winners were announced at a ceremony at Uptime Institute’s fourth annual Institute Research Symposium held in New York City last month.

The GEIT Awards honor companies and organizations that have made significant strides in creating reliable, sustainable and energy-efficient data centers. The University’s Center for Research Computing was selected as a winner in the category titled “Beyond the Data Center” for its innovation and leadership in introducing sustainability initiatives to computing and data centers.

Notre Dame’s research focuses on reusing the waste heat produced by computing equipment for industrial processes like wastewater treatment, bio-fuel production and other heat intensive applications.

“One of the biggest challenges was the relocation of this relatively low-grade heat production closer to the target application,” said Paul Brenner, lead scientist on the project and recipient of the award on Notre Dame’s behalf. “Our solution was to deploy our groups of computers in small ‘portable data centers,’ a design that is both sustainable and distributable. The small footprint of the installation allowed us to effectively locate the computers close enough to the secondary process to efficiently reuse the waste heat.”

“We congratulate and honor the University of Notre Dame for its pioneering work in reducing energy consumption in its data centers,” said Kenneth G. Brill, founder and executive director of the Uptime Institute. “The University of Notre Dame’s successful initiatives serve as a great example to its industry peers of the realistic impact and feasibility of energy efficiency initiatives.”

“Most sustainability research in information technology is focused on improving either processor, system or entire data center efficiency,” said Dewitt Latimer, chief technology officer for Notre Dame and co-principal investigator on the project. “There is virtually no research focused on efficiently capturing and reusing the waste heat generated by computing. We’ve found a second life for waste heat that reduces carbon emissions by eliminating the need to generate an equivalent amount of energy through burning fossil fuels.”

All GEIT Award winners presented case studies of their award-winning initiatives for addressing the data center energy efficiency challenge at the Institute’s symposium. Notre Dame shared lessons learned and its route to success to encourage its industry peers to be advocates of change in their own organizations. The GEIT Awards judging criteria were specifically designed to select projects with potential to serve as business case studies of the realistic impact and feasibility of energy efficiency initiatives.

The Uptime Institute is a leading independent think-tank, corporate advisor, knowledge exchange, education and professional-services provider, serving the owners and operators of the world’s largest enterprise data centers. Its primary area of expertise is the uptime availability, reliability and resiliency of enterprise computing within formal critical computing environments—computer rooms, server farms and ranches, and data centers. More information is available online at www.uptimeinstitute.org.

Contact: Lenette Votava, Office of Information Technologies, Lenette.Votava.3@nd.edu, 574-631-6548