Saving energy with power distribution units

ITS INFRA has installed power distribution units in their Octavo laboratory; these not only measure the energy consumption for each connection, but also allow remote switching of the connected devices.

Various groups from IT Services have installed their devices in a test room in the OCT (Octavo), as has the Data Networks group. Continuous tests are rarely carried out on our routers and switches; most of the time it is just special configurations or adjustments that are tested before we go into the productive network with them.

It has been clear to us for some time that we mostly produce hot air over longer periods of time in the truest sense of the word. However, when it comes to the necessity of turning on the devices only when absolutely needed, convenience won out. At the old location on Weinbergstrasse, you would have had to leave the building to do this; at Octavo, you would at least have to go down into the basement. And now that we work remotely more frequently, this is no longer an option anyway.

With the support of our colleagues in the Network Installation and Planning group, we found universal power distribution units that not only allow precise measurement of the total energy consumption, but also the power consumption on each individual outlet – and these can also be switched on and off individually via a web interface. After the installation and the first measurements, we were somewhat surprised to find that around 12kW were consumed in our test racks alone. And, under the very simple assumption that the units only need to operate during the roughly 40 hours of the working week, we have identified possible savings of at least 80MWh annually. It soon became clear that we could not only make a small contribution to energy saving, but the return on invest is much shorter than expected. The solution is particularly interesting for us because it enables us to conserve energy without sacrificing any comfort. And because we assume that there might be some more, similar applications at ETH, we are happy to share our experiences.


Stephan Walder, Group Head Data Networks, ITS Infrastructure (ITS INFRA)

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