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Implementing Sustainable Data Center Practices, Part II

In my first article on sustainable data center practices, I discussed the possibility that most organizations can benefit from at least some green data center strategies without compromising corporate growth or IT reliability.

Energy and Atmosphere & Materials and Resources

It is important that architects, specifying engineers, designers, building owners and others understand what their business does today could have a lasting effect on future generations. Sustainable systems preserve and promote the long-term well-being of our planet’s environment, inhabitants and natural resources by avoiding waste and limiting production of greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants. As data centers have the potential to consume vast amounts of resources, environmental concerns should play a large role in new data center construction and major renovations of older ones.

The LEED Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in seven areas:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Innovation and design
  • Regional Credits

Please visit my other previous articles for background on understanding data center sustainability, a synopsis on the difficulties of going green in the data center, and for an overview of available methods to achieve LEED credits in the areas of sustainable sites and water efficiency. The following sections discuss the next two areas of LEED green building certification: energy and atmosphere, and materials and resources.

Energy and atmosphere

One of the most direct and effective ways to enhance a data center’s sustainability is by reducing power and cooling usage. Strategies for reducing energy consumption include the following:

Utilize high-efficiency IT equipment: The latest servers, storage hardware and communication gear are significantly more power efficient than comparable models made as recently as a few years ago. Upgrading to such products, either immediately or during your next replacement cycle, can help you save money on electricity and lighten your impact on the environment.

Deploy energy-efficient power systems: Many data centers today rely on aging UPSs. Replacing them with newer models is a low-risk, relatively low-cost way to decrease energy waste. In the 1990s, a typical UPS was generally only about 80 to 82 percent efficient under standard loading conditions. Today’s models, however, routinely achieve 92 to 95 percent efficiency, and newer technology UPS systems with advanced energy saving capabilities can achieve up to 99 percent efficiency.

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