Data Center Facility Inventory

The primary goal of the facilities sub-team was to develop and refine an inventory of all UW-Madison facilities, both on and off campus, that qualify as operating as “campus data centers.” Qualification involved meeting certain key attributes as defined by the team, including:

  • Physical size
  • Power capacity
  • Cooling capacity
  • Energy efficiency
  • Physical security
  • Environmental monitoring


The inventory began with collecting data through two campus surveys sent to data center administrators and campus building managers. This data was refined and then converted to a searchable database. The next step involved contacting all administrators of data centers larger than 200 ft2 and scheduling on-site visits and interviews to get as much accurate data as possible about the facility.

The facilities team developed recommended minimum standards for data center installations on campus and transitioned these to the Organization and Governance sub-team. Those who will continue to forward the work of the overall initiative may develop some additional levels of data centers akin to the Uptime Institute’s data center tier levels, but more useful for the needs of UW-Madison.

Additional Work Completed

The team also investigated and considered several alternative models to determine facilities operations costs, such as cooling, power use and physical infrastructure. This input has also been forwarded to the team members responsible for developing a standardized data center cost model.

Ongoing PUE Assessments

PUE (power usage effectiveness) is one measurement of facility energy efficiency. We used this tool to calculate PUE on a number of data center facilities in order to:

  • familiarize ourselves with the methodologies
  • establish baselines for some facilities
  • better understand the spectrum of facilities and efficiencies on campus

PUE is expressed as a ratio of total facility power and the power drawn by the IT equipment alone. While 1.2 is the industry benchmark, 1.8-2.0 is typical for facilities not focused on energy efficiency and greater than 2.0 generally means there are “simple” things that can be done to improve efficiency.

Next Steps

The Facilities sub-team completed its deliverables in June 2013.

Learn about the Campus Services and Organization and Governance teams.