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Sustainable Airflow Management

DEEP (Data Center Efficiency Evolution Program) is a certification program that assesses and certifies data center’s sustainability, evaluates facilities and scores against 70+ best practices through airflow management, electrical systems, mechanical systems and processes. DEEP’s program makes the implementation of sustainable solutions simple for data center managers and recognizes those data centers that are employing best practices in sustainability. As one of the most important areas, and often the lowest hanging fruit for a return on investment, DEEP has a strong focus on airflow management. Assessment criteria includes containment, rack inlet temperatures, perforated tiles, temperature monitoring and more. While mechanical and electrical improvements involve high costs for the data center, airflow management improvement costs are far less, while some can be done with no financial investment at all.

A data center’s airflow management involves directing and blocking cold and hot air within the facility. This can be done through a variety of ways including containment, perforated tiles, efficient design elements and temperature monitoring. Airflow management controls the facility’s temperature in and around the IT equipment to maintain and increase efficiency of the data center. Without proper airflow management, data center equipment and HVAC systems will have to work harder than necessary to maintain ideal data center conditions, causing increased costs and diminishing data center productivity.

DEEP will take a deep dive into a few key principles of airflow management within a data center.


Data center containment is the division of cold supply air and hot air produced from the IT equipment. By effectively separating the air, data center owners and operators are able to reduce costs and improve overall equipment performance and efficiency. Hot and cold aisle containment keeps data center equipment cool and functioning properly by removing the waste heat and increases cooling capacity while reducing energy consumption.

Rack Temperature Monitoring

DEEP analyzes the data center’s rack temperature monitoring, a major component in airflow management. Rack temperature monitoring prevents inadequate cooling and poor airflow while providing quick identification of a heat problem within the facility. Proper rack temperature monitoring prevents hotspots which occur when equipment has a higher air intake, causing the temperature of the server to rise. With proper rack temperature monitoring, data centers can maximize their equipment life span as well.

Perforated Tiles

The utilization of perforated tiles in a data center is a vital aspect of proper airflow management. Perforated tiles are used to deliver the supply air to the cold aisle and to the inlets of the facility’s IT equipment. The airflow through the perforated tiles fulfills the proper cooling requirements of the data center. The use of perforated tiles is a simple design approach that is efficient and well suited for today’s sustainable, modern data center.

IT Device Temperature Monitoring

DEEP’s experts look into the data center’s IT device temperature monitoring as well. With power being the highest operating cost in the data center, it is important to understand how facilities are evaluating their electricity usage. According to the Uptime Annual Global Data Center Survey for 2021, 82% of data center managers evaluate their data center usage and 70% monitor Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) which is a major energy efficiency metric. DEEP puts an emphasis on IT device management due to its early detection for downtime, HVAC failure, power outages, water leaks, humidity fluctuations and restricted airflow.

Drop Ceilings

The key thing a DEEP assessor is looking to find is complete separation of supply and return air. One option for achieving this is to have a dropped ceiling, also referred to as a suspended ceiling. This is similar to what you see in office buildings, where a horizontal lattice or grid has been constructed a few feet below the raw construction of the ceiling. Ceiling tiles are then placed on top of that lattice.

Dropped ceilings prevent the cold and hot air from mixing via the use of containment or return plenums which route the air back into the cooling system or pipe it into another room. It also serves to reduce the amount of space in a data center that requires cooling. 

Airflow management is an essential concept that DEEP analyzes in the data center and is the first step in reducing operating costs and energy consumption in a data center. By implementing airflow management solutions such as raised floors, proper rack configurations, data center operators can control the temperature of the facility and reduce overall energy consumption.


To learn more about DEEP and its analysis process and certification, please contact us.