5 Ways Sustainability Can Transform Data Center Operations

Just as data centers were making gains toward mitigating their large carbon footprint—one that routinely utilizes 3-5% of global power, the coronavirus crisis shutdown’s impact on remote work and digital services pushed their criticality to an all-time high. While 2020 was positioned to see major advancements in data center sustainability, conversations have pivoted to focus on the business continuity plans that are being constantly updated in response to the pandemic, and how businesses can balance sustainability with readiness. 

As more businesses adopt a work-from-home model and the need for e-learning and healthcare transforms energy and data consumption patterns, organizations and their data center partners are poised to redefine the climate change narrative that has long gripped the data center industry. Today, as the public prioritizes progressive business operations, we’re looking at a few top considerations when it comes to data center sustainability. 

5 Ways Sustainability Can Transform Data Center Operations

1. Cost 

Cooling alone accounts for the majority of costs within a data center facility. For this reason, opting for renewable cooling sources, whether solar-powered, air-chilled or liquid cooling, is one of the most effective ways to reduce overhead costs without sacrificing IT efficiency. Likewise, carbon-based energy usage is easily reduced by renewable energy sources like solar power. In fact, in partnership with Cherry Street, the T5 construction team was able to reduce total price per watt on a recent project by $0.30 on average with solar power installation. 

2. Efficiency

Improving data center sustainability starts with efficient mechanical systems designed to support IT equipment and larger server loads. Systems such as indirect air or evaporative water cooling, solar installations, improved facility insulation, and modular design work together to increase efficiency and sustainability. And with the introduction of green power alternatives, these high-efficiency mechanical systems are able to keep PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness, or the ratio of total power used by the data center to the total power provided to the IT equipment) low while reducing a data center’s environmental impact.

3. Reduced Power Usage 

Between each piece of IT infrastructure, cooling systems, generators, etc., it’s easy for data center facilities to continuously increase their power consumption. When power consumption increases, so does the facility’s PUE. Ideally, a critical facility should strive for a PUE between 1.0-1.2; however, the industry average currently sits between 1.8-2.0. By utilizing more efficient processes and systems that lean on renewable energy sources, data centers are able to drive total energy consumption down and achieve a better PUE. In fact, through liquid cooling alone, a facility may be able to reduce usage by almost 36% annually.   

4. Improved Carbon Footprint

In promoting data hall sustainability, it’s important for facilities to take a comprehensive look at current performance, processes, equipment and systems to uncover potential inefficiencies. In an industry that sees carbon emissions that rival the airline industry’s, data center sustainability can have a massive impact on improving the industry’s overall carbon footprint. With tactics such as natural/free cooling, capacity management and planning, and temperature control, facilities are able to facilitate better energy usage, consumption and total carbon emissions. 

5. Longevity 

Because modern building and power management systems enable visibility into and control of energy consumption and capacity, data centers have been able to achieve a more efficient match with IT equipment. Going a step further, utilizing this real-time information being collected by operating software and remote hands teams can be used to automate and improve processes, extend your system life cycles, enhance security, lower data center energy, maintenance costs and guide forecasting. 

Since 2014, T5 construction services have helped customers in a variety of industries implement sustainable practices using solar and renewable energy. Interested in learning more about how this could impact your business? Talk with a T5 team member today

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