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Princeton University Opens New Energy Efficient HPC Research Center

Princeton University has opened its new High-Performance Computing Research Center (HPCRC) on its Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, NJ. The 47,000 square foot facility is one of only nine HPC data centers in the world to achieve Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council.

The HPCRC facility houses Princeton's Terascale Infrastructure for Groundbreaking Research in Science and Engineering (TIGRESS), which contains nearly 1,800 computers that support major research initiatives, administrative systems, and departmental functions. The new facility features a Web-based building automation system called WebCTRL from Automated Logic Corporation (ALC), a provider of building automation solutions to maximize energy efficiency.

The WebCTRL system monitors and controls the HPCRC's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technology. According to ALC, three chillers maintain water temperature at about 45 degrees Fahrenheit to air-cool the facility's heat-generating computers. In colder months, the system conserves energy by using outside air instead of chillers to cool the computers. And when electricity prices go up, the system switches from electricity to a natural gas powered generator, which uses a cogeneration function to capture expelled heat and then use that heat as an energy source to chill the water.

Other features of the WebCTRL system include multiple levels of redundant (N+1) control to ensure system availability in the event of a component failure, and trend reporting capabilities to track and analyze building performance data in graphic or spreadsheet format.

The HPCRC currently uses one-third less energy than the university's previous data center and aligns with the university's sustainable building technologies initiative to conserve energy and water.

Further information about ALC's WebCTRL building automation system is available at

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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