Associated Bank cools data centres with glycol

Source: Focus on Energy

Associated Bank found an innovative way to put the chill on its energy usage after it converted its two Wisconsin data centers from air-cooled systems to glycol "free cooling" systems. Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide resource for energy efficiency and renewable energy, in partnership with Wisconsin Public Service, awarded Associated Bank $116,000 to help get the projects completed.

"Not only do these upgrades save energy and money, but they're also environmentally friendly. It is a great combination"

The new systems allow the Green Bay and Stevens Point, Wis. data centers free cooling options during the winter months. During the summer months, an electric compressor runs to help cool the glycol to keep the data centers cool. In the winter, the glycol stays cool on its own and the compressor doesn't need to run as hard, if at all.

Compared to using a standard piece of equipment where a compressor would need to run continuously, Associated Bank is able to save more than 1.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually—enough energy to power 150 Wisconsin homes for a year. The data centers will also benefit from an estimated $115,000 savings on its energy bills each year. Garry Dietrich, senior vice president and director of internal services at Associated Bank commented, "We anticipate the payback periods will be in less than three years at our Green Bay location, and slightly over three years at our Stevens Point service center."

As the data centers volume grew, Associated Bank arrived at a point where it needed to add another cooling system to make sure its IT hardware wouldn't overheat. The additional cooling system would increase the company's electrical consumption and cost more to power. By adding the glycol systems, the data centers now only cool when needed, which not only saves on cooling costs but also allowed Associated Bank to reduce the size of the fans and motors needed to move the air at its Green Bay and Stevens Point data centers.

"Not only do these upgrades save energy and money, but they're also environmentally friendly. It is a great combination," commented Associated's Chief Information Officer Mark Quinlan. The annual environmental benefits are equivalent to offsetting 2,920 barrels of oil from being burned - eliminating more than 2.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being released into the atmosphere.

"Associated Bank is a great example of a company that is going out of its way to find innovative solutions to save money," said Ken Williams, Focus on Energy's business programs director. "Focus offers a variety of 'Green IT' resources to help businesses save money including comprehensive approaches that combine energy-efficient equipment, smart energy management software, enhanced system design, and cost-effective cooling systems within the equipment and the facilities in which they're located."

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