10 years ago

Green Data Centers: Cutting Down Overall Business Costs While Lowering Environmental Impact

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Facebook's eco-friendly data center located in Sweden. Touted by the company as "one of the most efficient and sustainable data centers in the world."

Thanks to climate change activists, “going green” has become a household term just about anywhere. Even businesses gripped with initial fears that doing it the environmentally friendly way would bring about a lot of inconveniences and quadruple operations inefficiencies, have felt the pressure to implement more eco-friendly tools and technologies.

IT departments have been pushing to “go green,” as well, not only to reduce costs, but to increase sustainability and gain coveted government tax incentives. Plus, being more environmentally friendly could cut down on organizational risks brought caused by the environmental impact of commercial and industrial activities.

Enter the green data center. A storehouse for the management and dissemination of data, it works the same way as any data center, only more environmentally friendly.

Some of the characteristics of a green data center include:

  • It consumes very minimal power resources for its computing infrastructure operation and electronic resources maintenance, such as lighting, cooling and backup.
  • It normally operates using renewable energy, like solar, wind or hydroelectric power.
  • Its infrastructure is built using the lowest power possible to lessen its carbon footprint on the environment.
  • It uses recyclable equipment and reuses materials for the most minimal e-waste.
  • It uses heat capture technology to reroute equipment heat load away from computers and servers, and manages airflow essential to healthy computer and server functions. This keeps equipment away from “hot spots” and uses cost-effective measures to prevent hot air from harming critical equipment.
  • It uses free cooling, such as water evaporation, thermal reservoirs or even cold air from outdoors to cool data center computers and servers for lower energy costs.
  • It uses efficient power supplies and UPS systems to prevent energy wastage and minimize power loss.
  • It employs storage virtualization to shutdown unused servers, while consolidating server use. This reduces the number of actual servers in use and lowers power consumption.

Ultimately, following eco-friendly business practices, particularly in the IT sector, have turned out to deliver quite a number of cost savings advantages:

  1. Less energy used – from cooling, security, backup power supplies, fire suppression systems and redundant Internet connections, data centers consume a lot of energy. By going green and using less electricity, they lower operational costs.
  2. Less electrical wastage – data centers often waste a lot of power by running all equipment at full capacity, even during low demand periods. By consolidating servers and shutting down unused ones, less power is used, which again cuts down electricity bills.
  3. Equipment lasts longer – by maintaining constant temperatures using green cooling methods, good air filtration and heat capture technology, less equipment outages occur and hardware failure rates are lowered, thus saving money on equipment purchases.
  4. Government tax incentives – luring data centers with tax incentives to become more eco-friendly apparently works. Equipment purchases (from generators and switches to UPS systems) can be offset by tax incentives like the Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction, which deducts $1.80 per square foot for businesses that construct or re-design their buildings to cut energy consumption by 50 percent or more.

While green data centers may cost more to build, they have proven to be more energy efficient and cost-effective in the long run. Facilities that consume less power will also consume less overhead, translating to more savings for businesses, while reducing their impact on the environment.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

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