Helping Data Centers Pursue LEED v4 Certification – SFBA Chapter

Raghu Sunnam, Katie Bachman, Aryn Bergman
Date of Recording:
Short Description
Long Description

This is a recording of a San Francisco Bay Area Chapter event, held on July 23, 2019. This was a free event sponsored by Northshore, held at DPR Construction in San Francisco, CA. Unfortunately the first presentation featuring Raghu Sunnam and Katie Bachman from stok was not recorded.


Presentation 1: LEED v4 requirements for modeling Data centers

HVAC systems for typical buildings are designed to meet the heating and cooling loads based on occupant thermal comfort requirements. This is slightly different for Data centers, where owing to their specialized building typology – the design focuses on meeting high cooling loads due to extensive internal loads related to server racks and the associated electrical equipment. For data centers that aim to be certified under LEED, it is important to account for energy savings related to reduction on server loads and also cooling loads over a baseline. While the LEED credit library has templates that can be used to document these energy savings, these templates may not be appropriate for all data center projects based on their anticipated design strategies. This presentation delves into LEED requirements for data centers and various approaches that can be used to document energy savings for data center projects to meet LEED requirements.

Presenter:  Raghu Sunnam, stok

With a background in Architectural Engineering and Construction Management, Raghu provides energy modeling and commissioning services at stok. Pulling on diverse expertise in architecture, Building Information Modeling (BIM), and sustainable design, Raghu helps projects achieve their sustainability goals through information modeling and data analytics. At stok, Raghu specializes in energy modeling, commissioning, and monitoring based commissioning. Beyond his professional commitments, Raghu is pursuing his PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering as a part-time candidate at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Through his research, he is working to extend the applicability of BIM data schemas to represent HVAC controls specifications to assist with monitoring based commissioning.

Presenter:  Katie Bachman, stok

On the Real Estate Strategy Team at stok, Katie leads corporate clients through strategic sustainability planning, with a focus in portfolio-level real estate. Katie’s broad expertise encompasses healthy and sustainable materials procurement, design and construction strategies that conserve resources while reducing waste, and third-party green building certification systems. It is through this comprehensive lens that Katie creates and implements scalable design standards that enable companies to achieve corporate sustainability goals at scale. ​With a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Katie possesses extensive knowledge of environmental policy and planning as well as a solid foundation in economic analysis. Her interest in high performance buildings stems from a deep passion and understanding of the importance of integrating the natural and built environment, promoting sustainability across the board.​

Presentation 2: Challenges in modeling data centers for LEED v4

Did you know that a data center in a more energy efficient location is penalized by LEED’s energy optimization point system? Did you know that rotating the baseline energy model will impact your results less than 0.01% yet increases your model runtimes by 2.5x?

With the release of the LEED v4 Reference Guide and its modeling guidelines for data centers, the USGBC has made significant improvements to energy modeling requirements for projects in our industry. However, due to the unique nature of data centers, the process of submitting energy models is still the proverbial square peg in a round hole.

Energy efficiency rating systems that were designed for traditional commercial buildings do not work for buildings with an energy use profile as unique as data centers. The USGBC needs our help, the help of professionals in the data center industry to create a rating system that will.

This presentation will address the issues with submitting data center energy models to LEED and offer near-and-long-term solutions to the LEED v4 rating system shortcomings. Finally, we’ll discuss ways in which we can make the rating system more fair and useful for ourselves, especially our clients, and rest of our colleagues so that we can optimize all data centers for everybody.

Presenter:  Aryn Bergman, PE, Northshore

For 14 years, Aryn has spent his career as a Mechanical Engineer focused on increasing the energy efficiency and efficacy of the built environment. Early on, this focus led him into the data center industry where he’s providing energy modeling services to Fortune 100 companies. In 2018, he co-founded Northshore, a data center consultancy that uses coordinated BIM, CFD, and energy modeling to optimize the energy use and critical IT capacities of data centers throughout the country.

LEED v4, LEED, HVAC, data centers, BEM, building energy modeling, energy modeling