The Reality of Green Data Centers

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  As technology advances and more companies start using cloud servers to store information, we need bigger places to house these servers. More and more buildings are being erected just to hold equipment, not be spaces for people. With these facilities coming up, the primary concern is our overall carbon footprint.  

Data centers are starting to go green to make the future brighter for everyone. The change, however, is going to be a long struggle to shift our current buildings to something with a greener outlook. Fortunately, there are plans in place.  

What Is a Green Data Center?

A green data center is a building built with environmental standards in mind, designed to remain energy-efficient, use less water and be powered by wind, solar or hydro energy. There are particular guidelines and codes a building has to follow to be considered green though. In America, these guidelines are observed by the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or USGBC LEED for short.

LEED observes every aspect of the building, from neighborhood development to interior design. When inspections are over, LEED offers a point system to show a building’s level of certification as silver, gold or platinum.

Why Are Green Data Centers Needed?

The data center construction market is growing exponentially worldwide. Because of the large rate of growth, organizations are becoming concerned about power usage for buildings only used to contain servers. LEED was put in place to make going green easier and provide rules of what a structure can be to help the environment.
Energy consumption of data centers has increased with cloud computing services and caused more CO2, or carbon dioxide, emissions. There is a will by the people to lower the Power Usage Effectiveness, or PUE, of large companies like Facebook and Google. As such, green alternatives are naturally becoming popular.

Green Is on the Rise

Global green data centers will reach $7.2 billion by 2020 and are projected to skyrocket to $25 billion by 2024 according to research from Global Market Insights. Because of pressure from environmentalists and customers alike, more companies are pushing for their buildings to become eco-friendly. Several government organizations worldwide are encouraging business growth and the growth of the data center market.

Green data centers currently have a compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, of about 27 percent because of the public desire to lower power consumption. Because data centers are now consuming over 65 percent of the world’s overall power, the need to change is becoming nearly desperate.

How to Go Green

Many companies — even small businesses — want to go green and aren’t sure where to start. Knowing about how a data center works can help with making sure the equipment is handled correctly, repaired, used, protected and recycled. Emergency generators and regular maintenance are only the bare bones of what’s needed to make a data center efficient.

The company has to first find out how much energy is being consumed before figuring out a lower standard or number. An audit to check the baseline energy needs to be conducted before anything goes further. Figuring out where you are now can help guide future assessments and long-term planning. Even individual systems need to be checked separately to get a proper assessment.

The next step is to essentially start from scratch. You need to construct your building out of eco-friendly materials and use environmental attributes. For example, using local renewable resources can help lower costs, including building in a naturally cold climate. Making the building compact and upgrading essentials like lights to LED can also make a massive difference in the long run.

The reduction of power should be the most significant priority. Yes, the materials used on the building help, but the equipment still needs to run on something. Lowering the amount of energy required to power the IT equipment is a large factor in making the building an eco-friendly environment. The servers have to be kept reasonably cool, but building in a cold area isn’t always an option.

There are, however, outside air economizers that draw cold air from the surrounding environment instead of using basic air conditioning. Lastly, taking advantage of modular data centers can be a massive advantage. Ensuring the servers are mobile and interconnected can save on power costs by people simply moving them around as needed.

Green Is Here to Stay

As long as data centers continue to grow for big businesses, protecting the environment has to be a considered step. Advancement is going to happen, but we have to protect our planet as well. A green data center helps everyone and reduces consumption costs in the long run anyway. If you have the money to spend on building one now, the rewards will be there for the taking in the future.


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