HOW DO WE REDUCE THE ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT OF DATA CENTERS?

The digital sector is one of the most energy-intensive. Comprising 34 billion pieces of equipment, more than 4 billion users, plus network infrastructures and data centers, it is responsible for 2.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Gesi Smarter 2030).

In terms of the environmental impact of data centers, they account for 1% of the world’s electricity consumption[1] and 0.5% of CO2 emissions (GreenIT).

Between 2010 and 2018, their performance grew phenomenally. According to a study conducted by Science[2], storage capacity has increased 25-fold, network traffic has increased 10-fold, and computing volumes have increased by 550%. This generated a 6% rise in energy consumption. Even if this increase is measured against the explosion in the volume of data exchanged and stored, we must continue to work to ensure that data centers are part of an increasingly virtuous and environmentally friendly cycle.

To achieve this, it is essential to adhere to these 3 resolutions:

1.Innovate with a virtuous design to reduce cooling power consumption

Computer equipment generates a lot of heat. On average, a data center dedicates half of its electricity consumption to air conditioning. In order to reduce this energy consumption, solutions can be integrated from the design stage of the infrastructure: thermal containment (hot aisle/cold aisle), which enables the temperature to be distributed evenly; direct free cooling, which uses outside air directly to cool the computer rooms; and the use of modular data centers to add modules according to consumption needs. This last solution, which is agile and economical, considerably improves the PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness), i.e. the ratio between the electricity consumed by the data center and by its equipment.

2. Mastering the fundamentals in terms of standards, key indicators and power quality

In order to reduce the impact on the environment, it is essential to aim for constant improvement, follow-up and commitment.

This includes compliance with environmental standards. For the data center sector, four standards stand out: ISO 14001 to assess and control the impact of activities on the environment; lSO 50001 for energy management; Code Of Conduct for Data Centers to improve energy efficiency; and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a system for standardising buildings with high environmental quality.

To optimise the energy impact of a data center, monitoring and performance indicators such as energy and water consumption, and the amount of waste specific to each data center should be defined. In parallel, it is recommended to monitor four other indicators that are essential for monitoring and measuring technical, energy and environmental performance:

Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), a known and recognised indicator that reflects the energy efficiency of the data centers; the objective is to achieve a ratio as close as possible to 1

Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE), which measures the quantity of greenhouse gases produced by a data center;

Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE), which determines the amount of water used per site;

– the carbon footprint in kg CO²-eq, which calculates greenhouse gas emissions.

Power quality is also a key point to which particular attention must be paid. Most of the electricity must be produced domestically and certified as being of renewable origin or, at the very least, must ensure that the electricity consumed by the Data Centers corresponds to 100% of electricity of renewable origin injected into the grid of the electricity supplier.

3. Optimise the environmental performance of its data center through a global method of measurement and life cycle analysis.

Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software is essential to monitor key environmental performance indicators on a daily basis, feed internal reports and intelligently manage resources according to objectives.

DATA4’s D4 Smart DC solution provides real-time visibility of the environmental impact of its hosting space and IT equipment with indicators for energy and water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and natural resource use. The objective of the Smart DC solution is to enable the colocation service provider to measure the environmental impact of its infrastructures and its customers to measure the impact of their IT equipment. Moreover, this transparency is comprehensive as it offers a view of the entire lifecycle, from design to construction and operation in compliance with ISO 14000 and ISO 14040 standards.

In conclusion, an advanced management solution is a fundamental issue for any data center operator that wants to offer its customers a real decision-making tool for better risk management and anticipation and for optimising resources by identifying those that are over- or under-used.

By 2025, at the global level, the number of users will have increased by 1.1 billion, energy consumption will have multiplied by 2.9, electricity consumption by 2.7 and greenhouse gas emissions by 3.1 (World Digital Footprint Study). It is essential for the entire data center industry that its players do everything possible to limit and control these increases by adopting the three good practices described above.

Download our infography that provides guidance on the entire life cycle of the data center to minimize its environmental impact.

 

[1] https://www.connaissancedesenergies.org/la-consommation-electrique-des-data-centers-t-elle-ete-surevaluee-200304

[2] https://www.greenit.fr/2020/03/04/data-center-seulement-6-de-hausse-en-8-ans/