Data Center Sustainability

Noun | 
Sounds like: "da-ta cen-ter sus-tain-a-bil-i-ty"

Data center sustainability refers to the overall energy-efficiency and environmental-friendless of a data center. As computing capacity continues to increase to keep up with the demand of emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, big data, and the Internet of Things, the sustainability of data centers has significantly grown in importance.

Leaders in Data Center Sustainability

  • Google’s data centers have been carbon neutral since 2007 and they plan to be reach zero carbon by 2030 by shifting flexible computing tasks to times when power on the grid is cleanest, developing one of the world’s largest solar projects that can deliver energy at night or during an outage, and with machine learning that will optimize how wind farms deliver power.
  • Microsoft’s data centers have been carbon neutral since 2012 and they plan to be carbon negative by 2030. They are currently supported by over 2 GW of renewable energy projects. After reaching carbon zero, the will remove all the carbon from the atmosphere that the company has ever emitted.
  • Facebook’s data centers have been carbon neutral since 2021 and they plan to be zero carbon by 2030 with machine learning that will monitor, predict, and optimize efficiency based on seasonality, weather, and IT capacity. They also use a liquid cooling system that uses 50% less water and deploy hyper-efficient servers that can operate in high temperatures.
  • Apple’s data centers have been carbon neutral since 2014. They partner with local renewable utilities such as a wind farm in Prineville, OR and a solar provider in Reno, NV. They are also constructing new data centers that will run on 100% renewables from day one.

Get more information on green data centers around the world and leading data center and cloud operators with zero carbon goals.

How to Measure Data Center Sustainability

Some of the most common metrics data center managers use to track their efficiency include:

  • Air Economizer Utilization Factor measures how often outside air is used for free cooling.
  • Airflow Efficiency measures how efficiently air moves from the supply to the return.
  • Cabinets Compliant with ASHRAE Standards measures how much progress is made towards ideal environmental conditions.
  • Carbon Usage Effectiveness measures what the overall sustainability of a data center is.
  • CO2 Savings measures how many CO2 emissions were avoided due to data center energy efficiency efforts.
  • Delta-T Per Cabinet measure how effective airflow is at cooling equipment.
  • Green Energy Coefficient measures how much renewable energy is generated onsite.
  • Power Usage Effectiveness measures how much total facility power is devoted to IT equipment.
  • Water Economizer Utilization Factor measures how often indirect water cooling used.
  • Water Usage Effectiveness measures how efficiently water is being used in the data center.

For a complete list, see the top 30 data center sustainability metrics.

How to Drive Sustainability in Your Data Center

It is the responsibility of all organizations to reduce their carbon footprint. All data center managers must improve efficiency, reduce operating costs, and comply with sustainability initiatives.

To achieve this, leading experts deploy Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software to:

  • Measure energy consumption
  • Get real-time charts and reports on data center KPIs like PUE
  • Generate customer billback reports to facilitate more energy-efficient behaviors
  • Avoid overcooling and wasting energy
  • Identify power hogs that can be replaced with more efficient equipment
  • Design the physical data center infrastructure for optimal efficiency
  • Intelligently consolidate and virtualize resources

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