Businesses call for it. Customers too ask for it. Truly there isn’t any choice for data centers providers but to go sustainable. Why? Because the data center industry is responsible for approximately 3 percent of global power consumption and 2 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions which is the same carbon footprint that is generated by the aviation industry. Few experts predict that the energy consumption of data centers is set to account for 3.2 per cent of the global carbon emissions by 2025. The industry will also consume nearly one-fifth of global electricity, and by 2040, storing data digitally is set to create nearly 14 per cent of the global emissions. Even the industry will double its energy consumption every four years. This means that the industry has the fastest growing carbon footprint of any area within IT sector.
Hence today sustainability takes on a more intense and innovative path and has become an important boardroom discussion. As we move more and more to the online world, we will generate thousands of zettabytes of data that needs to be stored. As of 2018, nearly 18 million servers were deployed in data centers globally. What makes data centers more vulnerable to the environment is that it they are power-hungry. Consisting of servers, disks and networking equipment which needs cooling, power distribution, backup batteries and generators, lighting, fire suppression, and the building materials too, data centers are infrastructure heavy. This infrastructure overhead is measured using Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). The ideal PUE is 1.0, but why does it matter? PUE helps data centers look through their overall operations, and identify opportunities to increase efficiency, which can help in reducing operating costs.
A lower PUE is important in making a data center sustainable. On the other hand, data centers are exploring ways to use renewable energy such as wind, hydro and solar. A truly sustainable data center goes beyond just energy efficiency. It is also about zero wastage, whether it’s energy, food, water, greenery or more. It is also about using ecofriendly materials to construct infrastructure.
A truly sustainable data center
Among the host of new data centers setting up their base in the city of Noida, which is an emerging hotbed for data centers and global businesses, CtrlS is the most advanced and sustainable data center (DC) in northern India. It’s Noida DC is the world’s first LEED v4.1 O+M Platinum certified facility, which means that the DC is designed to save energy, water, resources, generate less waste and support human health. And not to anyone’s surprise, the facility is also the winner of energy efficiency awards for the last 10 years.
CtrlS Noida DC is also designed to withstand earthquakes measuring 8.5 on Richter scale. A forward looking organization, it has attained both LEED Platinum and ISO 22301 certifications, ensuring smooth and seamless business flow during a disaster. Interestingly, CtrlS Noida facility is the only quake resistant plus 100 per cent air pollution free data center in the country.
Praising the company’s efforts on sustainability, Gopalakrishnan P, Managing Director, GBCI – South East Asia & Middle East Markets, says, “Sustainability is embedded in the DNA of CtrlS, as the company is focused on best practices in energy management, good indoor air quality management, high performance across rainwater management, heat island reduction, water conservation and efficiency management, atmosphere and light pollution management, grid harmonization, waste management, purchase optimization, green cleaning, and other innovations. All CtrlS Rated-4 Hyperscale datacenters are certified as LEED v4 O+M Platinum by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), setting a benchmark for the datacenter industry both in India and around the world.” Green Business Certification Inc, (GBCI) is the world’s leading sustainability and health certification and credentialing body.
Commenting on the significance of the data center, Priyabrata Sarangi, Chief Information Officer, DCM Shriram says, “As a CIO, I believe that the availability of data is extremely critical to business. The NCR region, has been facing severe air pollution, which is affecting human health. Additionally, the Sulphur content in the air around NCR region has the potential ability to rust the metals used in IT infrastructure and disrupting IT operations. I am happy to note that CtrlS has invested in building an air filtration plant at its Noida datacenter to ensure the facility is free from pollutants. Such innovations are key to solving problems faced by IT Industry leaders.”
To ensure that it is as sustainable as an organization can be, CtrlS used sustainable materials during construction, such as low-VOC paints, natural fiber floor with materials like bamboo, wool and cotton fiber carpets, cork and others used for flooring. The facility has fiberglass which provides super insulation properly at low cost and can be considered as a green building material. CtrlS data center has also received the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification that ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits. To build its Noida facility, the company used AAC blocks, which are approved eco-friendly building materials that comes from industrial waste and are made from non-toxic ingredients, while the roof panels are made of composite materials such as foam or cellulose layer sandwiched between two metal sheets or two plastic sheets. Taking care of waste, the company ensures onsite separation even during the construction phase and hence contractors and subcontractors were enforced to ensure careful separation of waste.
The entire NCR region is faced with challenges of air pollution. However, presence of sulphur in the air across NCR and Noida has the potential ability to cause damage to computer hardware and malfunctioning of devices, as sulphur causes corrosion in metals. To solve this critical problem and safeguard the data of its customers, CtrlS established an air filtration plant which processes the contaminated air, scrubs it and then releases clean air into the data centre, thereby ensuring all the servers, storage devices, networking components and other devices located within the facility are protected from such threats. The air is not just good for the IT infrastructure but also for human lungs. The air filtration plant is equipped with air scrubbers, +ve pressurized system along with treated fresh air system.
While air pollution and earthquakes are threats to data centre providers, there is another kind of threat that is faced by enterprises– human threats. CtrlS deploys military grade security (9 Zone-security) to nullify any possibility of human threats with advanced under vehicle surveillance system. Apart from this, the facility has continuous digital CCTV surveillance of external and internal areas and has secured its fence surrounding the terrain around the data centre apart from having turnstyles, baggage scanners, bullet-proof enclosures, proximity cards, biometric readers, man-traps and ex-forces security personnel in place.
Additionally, the company is also making efforts to reduce carbon footprint by sourcing green power. CtrlS has installed 1 MW BIPV solar plant at its Mumbai DC, installed yet another solar plant at its Bengaluru facility, and sources renewable power through open access. It has adopted energy efficient technologies and processes. The company has installed next generation chiller plant technology, VFDs for all HVAC equipment, variable cooling system, CTI approved cooling towers, on-line monitoring and auto chemical dosing to avoid increase in approach of chillers, eco-mode UPS systems, HT dual source automation, 100 per cent LEDs, usage of motion sensors, and advanced building management systems to monitor critical parameters.
As a responsible organization, CtrlS has been conserving water by using rain-water harvesting techniques. Seventy to ninety per cent of water at its Mumbai, Hyderabad, Noida, and Bengaluru data center facilities is harvested and/or re-cycled. Constant online monitoring and auto chemical dozing system at all DCs help reduce the blow down water for HVAC systems. Further the facility has adopted water consumption reduction technologies through usage of low flow plumbing fixtures, dual-flush WC and waterless urinals.
The company has a higher adoption of greenery across its data center facilities. Further to minimize environmental impact and move to zero-emission, zero-waste and zero-pollution operations, CtrlS is building captive power solar plants to power its data center facilities. With this and more plans in the pipeline, CtrlS Noida Data Center is showing its peers on how some of the most critical problems (safeguarding critical data from earthquakes and air pollution) faced by IT Leaders in the NCR region can be solved by following a consistent and innovative sustainable strategy.