Sustainable Data Centers Make Economic Sense

Sustainable Data Centers Make Economic Sense
Data That Powers Modern Technology Flows Through Data Centers

Digital infrastructure is becoming ubiquitous – part of everyday life and commerce. From the explosion of data-intensive applications like social media, smart city applications, and streaming video, all the way to banking, electrical grid management, and health records, our ever-increasing reliance on digital networks and data storage reveals the emergence of a new digital lifestyle. All around the globe, data from these applications flows through data centers in order to keep this technology available and right at our fingertips.

Yet, as the digital economy grows, there is pressure to make data centers more efficient and reduce their environmental impact. Current estimates from the Department of Energy show that data centers utilize up to 2% of the total electricity in the United States. Interestingly enough, even though the internet grew 10-fold in recent years, energy usage by data centers hasn’t changed spiked at the same rate thanks to energy efficiency improvements such as virtualization software, innovative cooling, and increased energy utilization efficiency.

Sustainable Solutions And Third-Party Supplier Partnerships Are Ramping Up

Industry advancements have stemmed some of the industry’s growth impact. Yet the fact remains, that data center operators and corporations can not rest on their laurels – both play an essential role in creating a climate-safe world.

Of course, technology races ever forward. Companies are intensifying efforts to meet rapidly evolving technology and sustainability demands, deploying their IT strategy with third-party colocation and cloud data center providers. At the same time, business data stores are increasing. Greater investments in Ai and machine learning technology are pushing server densities higher. This is driving the need for high-performance computing (HPC) and increased cooling to safeguard and support HPC environments.

Fortunately, modern data center technology and innovative practices make high-performance-compute (HPC) not only possible but cost-effective. While businesses with an eye on sustainable strategy are taking a hard look at their infrastructure solutions, they see the benefits rise when engaging third-party providers in their supply chain.   Operational and climate change resilience doesn’t have to be an either-or-prospect for the backbone of your business any longer. Future forward colocation facilities offer several features that IT managers can seek when selecting climate-aware partners as their data center providers.

Locally Sourced Renewable Power 

Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) – Power is the most significant cost center in a data center, powering the digital backbone for the data center operator and all the businesses hosted in the facility. It is precisely why it makes sense to source colocation partnerships that provide reliable green energy through onsite power generation and RECs. Renewable Energy Credits or RECs are renewable power credits that can be purchased from local sources of wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal power, rather than drawing power from traditional electricity generation which has detrimental consequences on the environment. Investing in renewable energy benefits the economy, providing energy security, economic development, energy price stability, and reducing environmental risks.

Look for colocation providers that can offer 100% renewable energy offsets for every hour and every day of the year. This is a major step toward greening up a business’s digital footprint. Element Critical data centers not only offer green energy, our power purchase agreements ensure Austin and Houston customers enjoy power price stability, never paying more for green energy than grid prices. Customers can shrink their carbon footprints with zero complexity and save money while making a better choice for the environment.

Sustainable Power and Cooling

High-efficiency Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) – Modern UPS equipment delivers backup power that enhances data center reliability. Certain models also have eco modes or power-saving modes that save energy and lower operating costs. Even a slight reduction in efficiency can save data centers a lot in annual energy costs. For example, a UPS that runs at 99% efficiency rather than 96% can save a company with a 1-MW data center deployment over $20,000 annually. New energy-saving UPS systems not only reduce costs, they match, and in some cases exceed, the responsiveness of older double conversion systems. They also take up a smaller footprint and have a longer life cycle.

LED lighting and sensors – Energy-efficient data centers have LED lights and sensors installed throughout the facility to optimize power usage. LED lighting produces significantly less heat than traditional lighting and, when combined with sensor technology, can reduce energy consumption by around 10%. Large rooms in data centers are unoccupied most of the time, with people primarily working in security and network centers. This means rows of lights in hallways, data halls, bathrooms, and mechanical rooms can be off when staff is not working in those rooms.

Closed-loop air cooling – Many data center managers are increasingly replacing wasteful, traditional water evaporation cooling systems with innovative closed-loop systems. These systems utilize recycled water and reduce water loss through evaporation. Closed-loop systems also require less horsepower than open-loop systems. For example, in Element Critical’s new Houston One data center, the closed-loop air cooling system significantly limits water loss through evaporation and requires less than five homes worth of water annually.

Hot and cold aisle containment – Energy-efficient data center providers work closely with customers to carefully design data center space to reduce waste and optimize energy use. Customer spaces are often constructed with containment in mind. With containment solutions, server racks are arranged in alternating rows so that the cold air intake from all servers faces the same aisle while the heated exhaust is directed quickly from the shared space. This prevents hot and cold air from mixing, reducing the energy needed to maintain the correct temperature in the data center. According to Energy Star, containment systems can reduce energy expense by 5% to 10% and fan energy by 20% to 25%. Schneider finds that hot and cold aisle containment can save data centers up to 40% in annual energy costs.

Intelligent Infrastructure Management

Advanced efficiency monitoring – Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) systems enable data center managers to monitor a facility’s energy efficiency from a centralized dashboard. These systems provide data from sensors around the facility that monitor temperature and humidity and receive performance data from chillers, UPS, PDUs, HVAC systems, and other mechanical equipment. DCIM combines equipment performance and energy consumption metrics to calculate the facility’s Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). DCIM systems can also provide metrics like Water Usage Effectiveness and Carbon Usage Effectiveness and useful visualizations to illustrate performance and efficiency for transparent reporting.

Improved server utilization – With DCIM tools, IT infrastructure managers can monitor temperature and energy consumption for individual racks and servers. This helps ensure that heat is spread evenly across the data center, which allows for more efficient cooling. IT managers can quickly move workloads to servers in different racks with virtualization software if one rack gets too hot or uses too much energy.

Element Critical data centers are designed to deliver market-leading PUE (power usage effectiveness) and utilize water-efficient technologies. We continue to expand solutions toward our carbon reduction goals and continue to match our regional data centers with locally sourced renewable energy.

Get in touch with an expert from Element Critical to learn more about how we can help you meet your IT sustainability goals. Please email us at [email protected] or call 512.374.8022 to arrange a meeting. Let’s discuss our mutual interest in sustainable power utilization and how we can support your sustainability initiatives.

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