The Various Approaches to Going “Green” in Data Centers

There has been a major push in reducing the energy footprint of data centers, especially with the amount of data that is accumulated each and every day. One approach is to go lean by cutting out unneeded servers and adopting other energy reducing measures wherever possible, which seems simple enough, right?

The Various Approaches to Going "Green" in Data CentersWhile being green is attractive from a business standpoint, many data centers are not too eager to take this route. The need for cooling or other energy requirements exists for a reason, and cutting it down comes at the cost of imposing some restrictions in other places. Again, while identifying and eliminating unneeded servers and other appliances may indeed cut costs, the cost to actually do that may outweigh those savings.

Data centers unable to go lean due to their business model or any other reason should consider the following approaches to go green if they are faced with these challenges:

  • Reduce consumption of fossil fuel energy and tap energy from renewable sources, including solar photo-voltaic and wind. Microsoft's proposed facility, Pilot Hill Wind Project, which aims to provide 675,000MWh of renewable energy per year from 2015 to power its data centers, is a sign of the changes that are coming. The European Commission recently announced the RenewIT initiative, which aims for 80% of the European data center industry to be powered from renewable and sustainable resources, is sure to provide a push in this direction as well.
  • Avoid the use of highly polluting diesel generators for backup power and use bio diesel powered generators instead. Bio diesel reduces the carbon footprint of diesel engines significantly, but it does comes with the trade off of generators requiring more frequent care and cleaning.
  • Upgrade equipment periodically to remove obsolete and energy guzzling equipment. A case in point is the Direct Expansion (DX) cooling systems, where the focus was on the most cost efficient system a decade ago. Today, the primary focus of the cooling system is on the COP (Coefficient of Performance), or the ratio of energy moved to energy used to move it.
  • Use recycled equipment as long as possible. This would greatly reduce the carbon footprint associated with the manufacturing of the equipment, even if there are no major operational savings.
  • Adopt energy efficient architectural approaches, especially incorporating green innovations in ventilation and air conditioning, with the overall aim of minimizing the data center's impact on environment.

Green data centers are not just an environmental friendly move; they are a sound business preposition. Most of the time, the investment to “go green” sees a return on investment and starts to generate additional savings very shortly after it's implemented.

Lifeline Data Centers prides itself on energy efficient practices. If you're interested in learning more, schedule a tour of our facility today.

Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.
Alex Carroll