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Green Data Centers: Paving the Way for a Sustainable Future

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By Keshav Kumar – General Manager – DC Presales at Rahi

Data centers have garnered scrutiny from authorities due to their massive energy consumption. Today, data centers are responsible for the consumption of 1.3% of the entire global electricity.

With local communities and governments realizing the negative impact of their carbon footprint and excessive power utilization, data center providers need to have eco-friendly alternatives that reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. Fortunately, they already exist and many are already moving toward them.

The global green IT service market is getting traction due to the ongoing energy crisis. In fact, the market is expected to reach a value of US $34.83 billion by 2030 from its value of US $12.46 billion back in 2021.

Many aspects can enable enterprises to reduce data center costs and environmental impact including design, materials, waste recycling, and alternative energy technologies.

Here are a few ways data center providers can build green data center initiatives:

Decrease your server usage

Continuously running all the servers on your data center 24/7 can lead to underutilization.

While a few servers might process requests during certain times of the day, others might run applications infrequently or simply no longer serve a purpose. This ends up resulting in higher server energy usage than you need. Hence, data center providers should opt for server monitoring tools.

These tools track utilization to determine functions that can be consolidated into a few machines. It allows the admin to virtualize a few servers to further reduce their physical footprint and decommission others altogether.

Opt for eco-friendly materials and components

Many factors that support less energy usage and a smaller carbon footprint include compact buildings, low-emission materials, waste recycling, and alternative energy sources for power and cooling.

Making changes such as upgrading air compressors, shutting down dormant servers, shredding papers, and transitioning to LED lighting can make a significant impact over time. Furthermore, enterprises can save costs and protect the environment by utilizing sourced renewable resources to power servers and building in naturally cold locations to take advantage of free cooling.

Due to their energy-efficient nature, it was estimated that these improvements had collectively save 620 kWh of electricity between 2010 and 2020.

Invest in smart facilities management tools

IT service management processes often require enterprises to gather and store significant data about their data centers including power consumption and data loads. Analyzing this data allows the data center facility managers to gather insights that can be applied to their environment control system to optimize asset utilization, thus decreasing power consumption and HVAC loads.

AI-powered monitoring tools leverage machine learning to analyze energy data and build a sophisticated power usage effectiveness forecasting model.

Data center providers should also incorporate AI tools to manage HVAC functions in their data centers, along with IoT sensors that feed continuous temperature data to the system. This ensures that temperatures remain at optimal levels at all times.

Establish measurable IT sustainability goals

Monitoring the key aspects of the data center’s footprint can help enterprises to achieve their goals. Hence, data center providers should establish specific and measurable IT sustainability goals to measure progress.

They can be set around realistic targets for emission reduction or zero waste based on the unique data of the enterprise. Not only do they assist providers to manage their advancements by setting milestones but also ensure continuous progress on key metrics.

By 2024, 80% of data center providers with a sustainability strategy in which overall IT is a material that will include infrastructure, operations, and cloud as its top priority for technology investments, up from less than 20% in 2022.

Leverage renewable energy

While the above-mentioned data center practices can significantly alleviate the usage of energy consumption, it is also important for data centers to directly address the root causes of issues. Renewable energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectric plants can replace traditional fossil fuels.

Also, they are cost-effective as per International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and it highlights that newly installed renewable energy in 2021 had lower costs than the world’s cheapest coal-fired option in G20.

Furthermore, renewable energy sources are cost-effective and it’s sources are unlikely to run out of or become unavailable in the future.

Sustainability is the future

Creating data centers that are green and provide tangible benefits for the environment, often boils down to taking a rigorous and holistic approach to the design and operation of data centers that address cooling, energy consumption, and waste.

Concentrating on these key areas will enable data center providers to achieve or even exceed their predicted reductions of the overall carbon footprint of the global data center industry. These will also lead to innovations that could potentially revamp the industry as a whole.

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