American Family Insurance Upgrades Data Center Cooling


American Family Insurance


American Family Insurance was founded in Madison, WI in 1927 and is now the nation’s third largest mutual insurance company. The company operates in 19 states and had $88.3 billion life insurance in force in 2012. The company operates mirrored data centers at two locations in the Madison, WI area. These data centers are cooled by chilled water loops with redundant Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRACs) to eliminate single points of failure. American Family Insurance has a partnership with Emerson Network Power and engaged Emerson’s local business partner, CDP, Inc., to put together a plan to upgrade its cooling systems for energy efficiency and to estimate the attainable savings.

The Situation

In order to optimize business operating costs, American Family Insurance wanted to reduce energy consumption in the two Madison-area data centers. The fixed speed fans of the data center cooling systems were identified as a large energy consumer, and the CRAC units were running with older and varied controls. In addition, each data center had cooling redundancy built-in to minimize the risk of any downtime, but, redundancy comes at a price and the company wanted to ensure that they were operating optimally for efficiency.

Each data center is segregated into rooms by function. All of these rooms use raised floors for air delivery and most of these rooms have CRACs along the perimeter for cooling. Each room had at least one extra CRAC in continuous operation for redundancy. When American Family Insurance learned of Emerson Network Power’s Liebert® variable speed drive (VSD) and Liebert iCOM™ control upgrade from the local Emerson Network Power rep, CDP, Inc., the insurance company requested information and a payback analysis.


  • Upgrades reduced the overall energy consumption of the CRAC fans by 74%.
  • Standardized all the Liebert Deluxe System/3 units on the same control board version, the Liebert iCOM unit controls, for enhanced efficiency, protection and insight, including simpler maintenance and monitoring.
  • Liebert iCOM unit controls automatically put the CRACs not needed to maintain the temperature in the rooms into standby on a rotation.
  • Upgraded the monitoring capabilities of the CRACs at the Building Management System level for improved system visibility.
  • Achieved a Return on Investment of 2.02 years, including the incentive received by the local utility program, Focus on Energy.
  • Focus on Energy confirmed a significant savings for the two locations and worked with American Family Insurance during the project.
“This upgrade improved our data center efficiency, freed up stranded capacity and improved the manageability and visibility of our equipment”
- Sean Hyland, American Family Insurance, Facilities Program Administrator.
Case Summary
Location: Madison, WI
Products and Services: Liebert Deluxe System 3™ cooling units, with Level 0, 10 and Advanced Microprocessor Controls
Liebert CRV™ row-based cooling units
Liebert Challenger™ 3000 cooling units
Liebert Series 600, 610, and NXL UPS systems
Liebert STS2™ static transfer switches
Liebert PPC™ power distribution systems
Liebert SiteLink™ Monitoring
New Liebert VSDs (variable speed drives) for fans for Deluxe System/3 cooling units
Liebert iCOM controls with Liebert IntelliSlot for Deluxe System/3 cooling units
Critical Needs: Implement cooling system cost saving measures without compromising uptime, both during the implementation process and upon completion.

Read more about the American Family Insurance case study.​