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Chillin' in the Data Center

Halloween may be over, but data center managers should not be surprised if they get a chill running down their spines, according to Alan Hedge, professor of ergonomics at Cornell University.

Hedge is currently studying the impact of chilly surroundings on worker productivity, and warns that data centers pose a major problem for businesses. By cooling the environment too much you are losing performance,” he says, claiming that data center staff "performance could be deteriorating and they might not realize it.”

This is serious stuff: Hedge and his team have embarked on a two-year research project sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency no less, to examine the effect of workplace temperatures and airborne pollutants on employees.

As the first part of his research, Hedge studied employee performance at the Altamonte Spings, Fla., headquarters of the Insurance Office of America. The Cornell study found that, when office temperature was cut from 77 degrees to 68 degrees, typing mistakes by staff rose from 10 percent to 25 percent. Overall typing output also fell by 47 percent.

Hedge believes that the findings could have a significant impact in data centers, which rely on a wide range of cooling equipment to prevent servers from overheating (see It's All Cool and Data Center Heat Wave).

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