Going Green? Making Your Data Center More Eco-Efficient
Since every data centers’ core mission—having 100% uptime–requires a steady stream of power, clean and inexpensive, renewable and reliable energy should be a mantra for any environmentally and fiscally responsible data center.
That in mind, here’s a look at three ways data centers can become more ecologically efficient.
Considering the elements
When it comes to reliability, hydro-electric power—usually provided by major energy concerns–can be counted on to deliver clean, steady currents. But it’s not always a readily available option. The two other dominant renewable energy solutions, solar and wind power, can pose reliability issues. The breezes and gusts driving wind-generated power may disappear. Solar power, which operates at the mercy of the earth’s rotation and cloud cover, can only be generated during daylight hours.
All of which means that using solar or wind green-energy options will often require a secondary power source. If that means a hook up to the traditional power grid, so be it. Remember: in the long term, powering your center each day for half-a-day with renewable energy is far more environmentally sound than relying entirely on coal-generated power.
Investing in green-design
Internal design is another area to explore efficiencies. The Open Compute Project Foundation, whose mission “is to design and enable the delivery of the most efficient server, storage and data center hardware designs for scalable computing,” has now established guidelines for building servers that strip the machines of 6 pounds worth of material—usually superfluous design elements– for each machine. That’s 6 pounds of material that doesn’t have to be shipped, assembled or cooled.
Getting the most out of your space or location
There are at least two ways to increase efficiency by focusing on location. The first involves placing data centers in locations with cold climates. Creating cooling systems that can import cooler air indoors has obvious benefits for ensuring servers stay nice and cool. Obviously, this solution has limited relevance if a data center facility is based in Miami, Florida.
The second solution involves reusing space. Rather than constructing an entire data center from the ground up, which requires the manufacture and transport of building materials, many data center companies are renovating pre-existing spaces. And some of them are quite exotic. As I mentioned last week, favorite locales include former underground military installations and bomb shelters, which provide the added benefit of being secure locations.
Other unique locations include—surprise!—churches. Boston College houses the St Edmund’s Hall data center in a former Catholic chapel where IT employees can enjoy the original structure’s stained glass. And in Leeds, UK, British telecom company AQL placed a data center in the city’s historic Salem Church.
When it comes to innovative recycling, that’s the kind of thinking that will make you say “amen.”
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