Renton School District - Kohlwes Education Center

Summary

Renton School District envisions classrooms where technology is a tool used to boost student achievement. The district’s Information Management Services (IMS), located in its Kohlwes Education Center, is charged with implementation and support of technology. Services provided include network and desktop support, software and hardware purchasing standards, training computer labs, videoconferencing, and telecommunications / telephone services.

Challenge

The aging chiller at the Kohlwes Education Center was inefficient, and replacement parts for the unit were no longer available. Continuous maintenance, required to keep the chiller operational, was resulting in considerable expense for the district. In addition, a large number of servers in the computer room were running at a low percentage of capacity, taking up space that could be better utilized as a server room and separate Information Management Services (IMS) development lab. Believing in the critical importance of technology in running its schools and providing its students with a high-quality education, Renton School District sought to obtain more efficient and reliable server room capacity.

Solution

When funds became available through the State of Washington’s Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) grant program and the voter-approved 2009 Technology Levy, Renton School District took advantage of the opportunity to initiate its much needed data center upgrades. The district’s IMS department collaborated with the Office of Resource Conservation Management to begin transforming and updating its server room. Selected as its Energy Services Company (ESCO), Trane supported the Office of Resource Conservation Management in their efforts to also upgrade mechanical systems, controls and install a new Trane chiller with enough capacity to cool the entire building.

Virtualization technology transforms server room
Server room power supplies, network switches and servers were upgraded to provide more efficient computing power for the entire district. The IMS project included the use of “virtualization” technology, reducing a couple hundred physical servers to six physical servers hosting hundreds of virtual servers, with capacity to grow. The reduction in servers has resulted in a reduction in both the amount of energy consumed to power the servers and the power required to dissipate the heat generated by the servers.

State-of-the-art data center better serves district needs
Once the new server room reconfiguration was begun, plans were drawn up to enclose the 20 ft by 30 ft room within a state-of-the-art data center that would better meet the needs of the district, while increasing system reliability, and energy efficiency of complex direct digitally controlled (DDC) mechanical systems. The new server room includes unique features, such as special fire suppression and air handling units, and expandable hot and cold aisle racks, designed to roll in the event of an earthquake.

HVAC systems increase efficiency and energy savings
The building’s aging chiller was replaced with a 130-ton Trane high-efficiency, air cooled chiller. The new chiller improves part-load efficiency and has to-date eliminated costly repairs. The data center’s 5-ton rooftop cooling unit was replaced with a more energy efficient Trane 7.5-ton dual compressor, air-cooled packaged unit. The unit is equipped with an economizer, which allows it to take advantage of "free cooling", using 100 percent outside air when temperatures are below 65 degrees. "Trane removed the old units on Saturday morning, then installed the new chiller and rooftop unit," said J. Stine, Renton School District resource conservation and safety manager. "By Monday, systems were 100 percent, with zero issues and no cooling interruptions."

Energy Management System provides real time control
The existing Energy Management System (EMS) was upgraded to provide monitoring, control and performance trending of the new server room and development lab within the direct digital control system. The energy management tool is utilized daily by district staff.

Results

As a result of technology and mechanical system upgrades, energy usage at Renton School District Kohlwes Education Center has decreased dramatically. The data center’s electric load has been reduced by 50 percent, resulting in utility cost savings of $12,000 per year.

"The data center modernization was successful due to several partnerships including the Washington ESPC grant, Trane - our ESCO, Renton School District’s Resource Conservation Manager, the IMS Infrastructure team, a supportive school board and superintendant, and our community," said Stosh Morency, director of Information Management Services. "The upgrades allow the district to offer robust technology resources to support student learning for the next decade, while reducing costs."

"We’re saving energy, preventative maintenance visits are taking place, our data center is more reliable and we’re using economizer cooling 90% of the time," added Stine. "This allows us to redirect operating funds back into the classrooms to support our primary mission - Education!"

About Renton School District - Kohlwes Education Center

The upgraded Kohlwes Education Center server room provides more efficient computing power for the entire district.

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