More energy efficient and sustainable data centers aren’t only green, they’re worth it in money saved and other benefits gained. You can see going green as nothing more than a phrase thrown around so often it’s a parody more than a concrete set of actions. You can also miss out on the innovation and benefits of going green in the data center.
Who’s greening what?
Who’s paying attention to green innovations? Facebook. In 2013 Facebook built a data center in Lulea, Sweden. They’re using the Artic Circle weather as a cooling technique, and the heat from the servers will be used for the office workers. The site uses the reliable and environmentally positive hydroelectric generated in the city. The center has an incredibly low Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.07. Google’s Reno data center is powered by a solar energy array in tiny Yerington, Nevada.
Companies are moving towards more sustainable, “greener” data centers. They are looking at putting data in the cloud, modular data centers and virtualization. One study says the virtualization of 100 CPUs is like planting over 1500 trees, or taking over 85 cars off the road forever in energy efficiency gains.
Whose capital is being used?
Going green starts as simply as figuring out how much energy the data center uses, the cooling techniques used and the impact of the data center. The next step finding efficient ways to do the same amount of work using less energy and resources. When it comes to being green with energy, energy efficiency is King. Energy not used is energy not generated via polluting sources or non-sustainable resources.
Seeking out alternative energy sources like solar or wind is another way to go green. In many cases, companies can get paid for it. State and Federal incentives in the USA exist to make greener data centers cheaper to build and use. The US Department of Energy has a free database (DSIRE) for companies to use. This isn’t just small incentive programs like a $500 rebate. PG&E in California provided $2.1 million to one company to build a better data center. Countries like Singapore offer incentives as well.
What are the green benefits?
Reduced energy bills from increased energy efficiency or more reliable sources that don’t require as many back up generators are nothing to sneeze at. Having part of your capital costs building a data center or renovating it covered by an incentive or tax break is nothing to laugh at. Studies show green companies are more attractive to emerging talent pools of recruits like the Millennials.
Employees care more about their work when they feel the company is doing work in a sustainable, honorable way. Companies can charge more for a product that was made in a green fashion and people will pay the higher price. A study shows that “meaningful” brands have higher stock prices. Many CEOs want that feather in their cap of being the most green, the most sustainable. When it doesn’t take a sacrifice of productivity or profit to accomplish it, who wouldn’t?