What is a Green data center?

By its simplest definition, a green data center is a facility that minimises its impact on the environment due to key elements within its design – including power and water utilisation, CO2 creation and the materials required to produce the equipment within it.

Defining the Green Data Center

As data proliferation continues and the COVID-19 pandemic increases remote working, the need for more green data centers has increased. To be truly sustainable, a facility must be optimised from design through to operations – and this commitment applies throughout the lifecycle of the data center.

Buildings have to be efficient in how they use electricity and water. The cooling of the IT equipment within the infrastructure must be carefully considered – and likewise the power utilisation within each server and every rack. There must also be measurement and transparency. Without an awareness of the data center’s performance, firms will not be able to limit the CO2 produced by the facility, or reduce the volume of water required.

What is the difference between the datacenter and the Green datacenter?

Many of the key factors that define a green data center are invisible. These include external factors such as improving heat dissipation, or internal considerations such as airflow design. In recent years techniques such as free cooling or free chilling, which show far better results than a traditional air conditioner system, have increasingly been adopted. Similarly airflow optimisation through confinement has allowed smarter cooling of rooms.

Water conversation and the use of renewable energy are pushing the standards against which green data centers are judged. Everything from energy storage to solar panels are being used to reduce consumption. Likewise ingenious solutions can avoid wasting the energy captured in cooling systems – including heat of nearby buildings, industrial use cases and even swimming pools!

There is no single technology that determines if a facility is green, but the ethos and commitment to sustainability must be clear.

Green data center: Utopia or reality?

For some data centers, the changes required for sustainability are prohibitively costly and complex. Logistical, financial and operational constraints limit options to deploy technologies such as a new cooling system. But there are also plenty of reasons for optimism.

Many organisations are thinking creatively about the challenge. For example, there is growing interest in locating facilities in cold regions to enable free air cooling – or even underwater to utilise naturally cold and flowing water. However from a combination of practical management considerations, and the accelerating trend towards the use of edge computing, these options provide only part of the green data center story.

It’s therefore critical that sustainability influences all newly designed facilities, hyperscale data centers, and those that are built at great scale, such as our own multi-data center campuses across Europe. Together we can increase the proposition of green facilities within the global data center footprint.

Our contribution

Environmental responsibility is at the heart of our business. We are committed to reducing our – and our clients’ – environmental impact through the development of green data centers. We have a PUE score of 1.25. We’re proud to say the vast majority of our power comes from renewable energy and we use very little water to cool our data centers. We’ve committed to preservation of forest areas and we help customers become more efficient within their own infrastructure.

There is no endpoint in the need for sustainability, but we are committed to the journey.