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Battery Energy Storage Solution Cuts Data Center Construction Fuel and Emissions

Collage of Sunbelt Rentals Battery Energy Storage Systems.

The demand for data centers has never been greater: In the United States alone, power consumption is projected to grow from 17 GW in 2022 to 35 GW in 2030. It’s no secret that the construction and maintenance of these energy-intensive complexes require a lot of power and electricity — and at large cost. The good news? Renting a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) can help you reduce your carbon footprint by lowering construction fuel needs and emissions.

The right BESS can provide enormous environmental and economic benefits, making your data center construction project more sustainable while also lowering the amount of noise pollution it generates.

Take a look at how one Minnesota-based general contractor partnered with Sunbelt Rentals when they needed a sustainable approach to a mission-critical data center build. You’ll learn how this partnership allowed the contractor to reduce fuel needs, lower gas emissions, and drastically cut service hours and trips made — saving time and money while doing what’s right for the environment.


Project at a Glance


Goal: Reduce diesel fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions for a mission-critical data center construction project

Scope: Support infrastructure needs for thousands of workers at the jobsite

Solution: 15 Battery Energy Storage Systems, battery-powered construction equipment, and an on-site tool yard

Results: Substantial cuts in fuel and emissions, plus fewer service hours and trips made


A Commitment to Sustainability


When a sizable GC was contracted to build a data center for a major client in the Midwest, the GC and project owner each showed a considerable commitment to sustainability. In fact, both parties included measures to create more sustainable jobsites in their bid evaluations.

The companies partnered with Sunbelt Rentals to help achieve their sustainability goals for the large-scale build. During biweekly calls, the GC and owner identified priority issues. Meanwhile, Sunbelt Rentals helped devise purpose-built solutions using its own suite of energy management solutions and external resources that met the customers’ needs.

We offer our sustainability expertise and work with companies on solutions across the board. We can help customers reduce their carbon footprint and partner with them to reach their sustainability goals.

— Ryan Crampton, Sunbelt Rentals Power & HVAC Services

The project owner wanted to determine if adding BESS units to the generators addressed sustainability concerns well enough to justify the rental cost. So, during a six-month pilot program, the owner and GC evaluated a combination of generators and BESS units, judging success by how well an approach helped cut fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.


Reducing Fuel Use and Emissions


As with many construction projects, work on the data center began with no available utility power. To help meet the project’s carbon reduction goals, Sunbelt Rentals provided a range of electric equipment, such as:

  • Excavators
  • Manlifts
  • Scissor lifts
  • Skid steer loaders
  • Solar-powered light towers

Sunbelt Rentals also set up a secure tool yard on-site. This allowed the GC to manage tool inventory and usage for the project’s many subcontractors. The yard allowed 24/7 access to equipment and reduced fuel usage and emissions by eliminating repeated trips to the rental shop.

In addition, the construction project needed office space, cafeterias, restrooms, guard shacks, and lighted parking areas for the thousands of people working on-site. During the day, peak loads at many construction sites run high to provide electricity and HVAC to office trailers where staff work independently on laptops, hold videoconferences, and microwave meals. But between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., the load often drops to almost zero.

To supply the power required, Sunbelt Rentals provided a total of fifteen 20- and 56kW generators. The 56kW generators helped meet demand during peak usage but dropped back during low loads. The 20kW generators are common for infrastructure applications. However, in many cases — including this project — there are times during the day when these units are called to provide much lower kilowatts. 

Graphic illustrating how Sunbelt Rentals generators and battery energy storage systems combine to reduce fuel use and emissions.

Fuel reduction leads to emissions reduction and can also reduce costs. You can save money, but you will reduce fuel and emissions.

— Mark Wilton, Sunbelt Rentals Power & HVAC Services

Power Management With BESS: Far-Reaching Benefits


Running a generator 24/7 results in high fuel costs, poor energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and intense, almost constant noise. Generators can burn considerable diesel fuel and need frequent refueling along with servicing about every 300 hours. Additionally, the associated noise level ranges from 75 to 85 decibels — equivalent to working next to a lawn mower. For much of the day and most of the night, generators run inefficiently at low loads.


Customized Solutions for Complex Challenges


To begin to address these issues on the Minnesota data center jobsite, Sunbelt Rentals added a BESS to each generator, creating a hybrid solution. This configuration helped reduce generator size, runtime, and fuel costs, as well as overall emissions. Meanwhile, the silent power gave everyone from construction workers to local residents a break from the noise.

Smart Power Management


When a BESS is added to a generator, the excess power produced while the generator runs recharges the BESS batteries. When the generator is switched off, the BESS supplies the load. But when the load exceeds what the hybrid setup can support or when the batteries are depleted, the generator resumes operation.

Advanced telematics allow a BESS to automatically manage power from various sources to ensure the greatest energy efficiency, lowest maintenance, and least environmental impact. For example, enriched data provides information on peak demands to help companies correctly size generators.

The BESS can also support the generator during periods of high demand or dynamic load conditions by monitoring the electrical load. If even a few milliseconds’ gap in power when switching to a generator is unacceptable, the battery can ensure an uninterrupted power supply.

The generator and BESS communicate and share control of operations. As a result, switching between the two is seamless when the load exceeds what the hybrid can support or when the batteries are depleted. It’s also possible to set the unit so that the generator runs only during daylight. This, in turn, helps construction firms be good neighbors in dense cities and suburban neighborhoods.

Remote communication lets operators monitor energy use and oversee maintenance from any location across North America. With an online dashboard, operators can easily track environmental and economic payoffs.


Data Center Pilot Program Results


During the six-month pilot period, the Minnesota data center project’s GC reported substantial savings in generator runtime and preventive maintenance service as well as fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions. This meant that power management with BESS not only contributed to the project’s sustainability goals but also helped the parties involved realize significant time and cost savings.


Generator Runtime Reductions


  • Hours saved: 39,825
  • Percentage saved: 82%


Preventive Maintenance Reductions


  • Gallons of oil saved: 400
  • PM services avoided: 130
  • Hours of service work saved: 400
  • PM service cost savings: $43,521


Fuel Use Reductions


  • Fuel saved: 34,026 gallons
  • Percentage saved: 82%


CO₂ Reductions


  • Emissions saved: 231,305 kg
  • Percentage saved: 88%


Getting Started


Helping an owner and contractor achieve their carbon reduction goals, even if the answer doesn’t include our equipment, is an important objective for Sunbelt Rentals. Consider, for example, connecting client- and customer-owned equipment or a permanent microgrid with energy solutions from Sunbelt Rentals.

Sunbelt Rentals strives to invest in solutions that will help increase efficiency, reduce emissions, and contribute to environmentally friendly ways of working. Contact us today to learn about innovative power solutions that are as good for your project as they are for the planet.