To make a data center more environmentally friendly, study your facility’s power and resource usage and learn what potential changes can make a difference. You can take steps such as replacing inefficient assets with newer ones or partnering with green suppliers to create a more sustainable data center.
According to some studies, data centers accounted for about 205 terawatt hours of electricity use in 2018, or about 1% of all electricity consumption worldwide — enough to power some small U.S. cities. The ongoing digitization of the world continues to fuel energy demand, which means that data centers must play an active role in reducing their carbon footprint as climate change becomes an increasingly pressing global issue.
Developing green data centers should become a priority for companies in different sectors and geographic locations. Consider eight steps you can take to make your data center more sustainable — an essential task from both a business and environmental standpoint.
Track your basic usage
First, you need to know how much power and resources your data center is currently using. Start tracking your total electricity usage. Then you can dive deeper into the numbers to predict future use. For example, split your electricity consumption into HVAC, server, infrastructure, network and storage usage. Once you have an idea of your baseline, you can start looking at ways to improve efficiency.
The right size of your servers
Leaving your servers running 24/7 can lead to underutilization of them. Some servers can only process requests at certain times of the day, while other applications run infrequently or simply no longer serve a purpose. Server monitoring tools such as Zabbix, Netreo, and PRTG Network Monitor can help administrators monitor server usage to determine which server functions to consolidate on fewer machines, which you can virtualize and which you can completely dismantle.
Change the temperature:
Data center HVAC systems are usually designed to use more air conditioning than the data center really needs. Newer data center assets can safely operate at higher temperatures, so data center facilities can keep the overall temperature a little warmer to reduce the load on HVAC.
Rearrange your data center
You can increase the efficiency of your data center by rearranging it based on energy consumption and temperature. Use smart layouts such as hot and cold aisle configurations to group warmer assets and take advantage of HVAC vent placement.
Such layouts require you to understand the locations of your inlet and outlet openings in the facility in order to properly place assets. You can then place additional units in warmer zones for extra cooling and reduce your total electricity costs and requirements for your HVAC system.
Replace older resources with more efficient resources
Many legacy assets consume more power, generate more heat, and have lower physical tolerances than newer ones. Newer servers, switches, racks, and HVAC technologies have more efficient processors and components. Include these new assets when appropriate for your data center, such as during end-of-life or sunset processes or during replacement maintenance processes. You can also replace physical servers with virtual ones or move certain resources to the cloud to reduce the number of physical technologies you use.
Invest in smart facility management
IT service management requires you to collect and store a lot of information about your data centers, including energy consumption and data load. By analyzing that data, you give your environmental control systems the insights they need to optimize your asset utilization, reducing power consumption and HVAC loads.
AI-powered monitoring tools can use machine learning to analyze facility data to create a prediction model for power consumption effectiveness. Some data centers are also using AI-powered tools to autonomously manage HVAC functions in their facilities, in conjunction with IoT sensors that send continuous temperature data to the system. The software then analyzes the data and automatically modifies the HVAC system to ensure that the temperature remains at an optimal level at all times. Google has used this technology to reduce energy consumption in its data center cooling systems by 40%.
Research alternative green technologies
Organizations looking to reduce their carbon footprint can consider many green alternatives, such as geothermal cooling, wind energy and hydropower. For example, Verne Global uses geothermal and hydroelectric technologies at their data center in Keflavik, Iceland, to naturally cool their facility. Iron Mountain’s underground data centers benefit from natural cooling.
Check which green options are available for your organization, because with the development of new green technologies you will always find new ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Collaborate with green suppliers and organizations
Develop green partnerships with suppliers and organizations that offer more sustainable options. US-based data centers can work with the EPA to identify the best green power products for their locations. You can check the sustainability level of a supplier or supplier through the Carbon Disclosure Project, the RE100 and Sustainalytics to see their commitment to renewable energy.