Green Data Centers: Looking Beyond Renewable Energy and Cooling Efficiencies

Going green yields many benefits today's data centers. However, going green is traditionally associated with high costs, especially substantial investments in making radical changes to cooling technologies and installing renewable energy sources. This, however, does not always have to be the case. It is possible to convert an existing legacy data center into a highly efficient green data center by making a few tweaks and with minimal investment.

Data centers need to have a holistic look at the entire operation in order to implement changes that reduce their impact on the environment. Here are a few ways they can do that:

1. Audit Your Data Center

Green Data Centers: Looking Beyond Renewable Energy and Cooling EfficienciesExisting data centers can realize substantial savings by making just a few basic changes, and a good way to start is by consolidating servers. In most data centers, 10% to 30% of all servers are dead or not utilized, and simply switching them off results in significant energy savings. A data center audit would identify the extent of server utilization, which can indicate what resources aren't being used.

2. Opt for Virtual Machines

All servers age and have to be replaced over time. Sometimes, data centers need to move their server-based applications to virtual machines. This allows for a substantial reduction in the physical servers required and increases the utilization levels of the remaining servers. The savings in power to run and cool these unnecessary servers aside, this also results in significantly less real estate requirements.

3. Opt for Energy-Efficient Servers

Along with virtualization, data centers need to replace legacy servers and other equipment with energy-efficient ones. Servers are getting better and better with time. The first generation of multicore chip designs delivered a marked decrease in overall power consumption compared to previous models. Intel's Xeon 5100, for instance, delivered twice the performance of its predecessor while using 40% less power. The trend continues to grow in popularity.

4. Opt for Highly Efficient Power Supplies

Inefficient power supplies can waste nearly half of the power before the power even gets to the IT equipment.

Legacy servers generally have grossly inefficient power supplies, with efficiency of just about 65% range at 20% utilization. This is when the average server load is only in the 10% to 15% range. The problem is compounded as every watt of energy wasted by the power supply requires another watt of cooling system power, simply to remove the resulting heat. Highly energy-efficient power supplies that deliver 80% or more efficiency at 20% capacity have a 15% to 20% premium on prices, but this is justified by the reduction in operating and capital costs it delivers. For instance, $20 spent on an energy-efficient power supply has the potential to save $100 on the capital cost of cooling and infrastructure equipment.

5. Require Power Management

Many data center administrators, focused on uptime and performance, ignore the available power management tools. Proof of this is the fact that in most data centers, electricity usage hardly varies, while the IT load varies by a factor of three or more. Simply optimizing the available power management features can reduce energy requirements up to about 20%. Optimizing power management reduces stress on the power and cooling systems, and it actually increases reliability and uptime

Truly green data centers use improved efficiency as workarounds to reduce cooling and energy demands, without sacrificing performance or requiring heavy investments that make the proposal unattractive. Customers enjoy the benefits and savings as well, which is another good reason to continue implementing these changes.

Lifeline Data Centers continues to find new ways to use energy efficiently so that we can pass on those savings to our customers. To learn more about our data canter, schedule a tour of the facility now.

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