It takes a lot of power to keep a data center going. Anything that can save on the power and cooling bills to maintain all that equipment is a good thing.
And building a more efficient data center just happens to help the environment, too, right? So going green is a win-win.
That’s the logic behind the green movement in data centers.
Technology is always trying to do things better, faster, and more efficiently. Going green is the best way to do that in a data center.
What Is a Green Data Center?
A green data center provides data storage in a facility that’s designed to minimize the impact on the environment.
Green data centers use anything from efficient design and sustainable materials to alternative energies and updated equipment.
- Compact building
- Low-emission materials
- Sustainable landscaping
- Waste recycling
- Alternative energy technologies for power or cooling
- Hybrid or electric company vehicles
How Do Data Centers Become Energy Efficient?
Data centers require a lot of resources to maintain.
US data centers consumed about 70 billion kWh of electricity in 2014 , or 2% of all the electricity consumed in the US.
But there’s good news for the environment.
Every year we make technology advances in powering, cooling, and maintaining data centers. Older data centers get efficiency upgrades, and new ones are built to better standards.
It’s estimated that energy efficiency improvements will save 620 billion kWh between 2010 and 2020.
Those savings come from building data centers using nearby renewable resources to power their servers, or building in naturally cold locations to use free cooling.
Green data centers might shut down comatose servers that are unused or empty or upgrading air compressors.
Not every data center can easily switch to sustainable energy or upgrade old equipment.
Small changes like going from standard lighting to LED lighting or adding recycling and shredding bins can make big differences over the life of a data center, even for data centers that have been around for decades.
How Are Green Data Centers Powered?
Lots of IT companies are joining the alternative energy bandwagon. The technology industry invests in renewable energy more than any other industry.
Apple, Box, Facebook, Google, Rackspace, and Salesforce are some of the biggest companies committed to data centers that are 100% renewable.
Google’s working on a data center powered entirely with renewable energy, and Apple’s building solar farms for its Nevada data center.
One data center in Sweden is aiming to be the first carbon-negative data center in the world.
It won’t be long until that’s the standard for all data centers.
How Do You Know If a Data Center is Green Certified?
Any data center can claim it’s green or going green. Being green certified is a different story.
Certifications for green data centers and data center staff ensure we can maintain sustainability standards across all data centers.
Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is a measure of the effectiveness of a data center’s energy management. PUE measures the ratio of energy consumption to energy needed.
If you’re comparing data centers, look for specific energy certifications.
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
- US EPA Energy Star
- ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard
- ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard
- Six Sigma
- Schneider Electric Data Center Certified Associate (DCCA)
- Certified Data Centre Energy Professional (CDCEP)
The amount of data we use is only going up. We need more efficient data centers to store our data, and we need to keep pushing the boundaries of how efficient our technology can be.