Green building for data centers means more than converting to more environmentally-friendly power sources: it also means thinking about how much energy your servers use once they’re up and running.
This article writes about how data centers can use green building technologies.
Green building for data centers is a principle of sustainable design.
Green building for data centers is a principle of sustainable design that focuses on the essential needs of facilities to ensure their environmental, economic, and social benefits. There are three primary components to green data center technologies.
- The first is the building itself. A green data center must start with a green building.
- The second component is the infrastructure within the facility. This includes power, air conditioning, and other utilities.
- The final component is the equipment within the facility and how it functions.
A green data center can be realized with all of these components working together.
This data center construction approach seeks to reduce information technology’s negative environmental impacts in three main areas: energy efficiency, resource efficiency, and occupant wellness. Regarding energy efficiency, green building for data centers emphasizes using renewable power sources and energy-efficient equipment and infrastructure.
Resource efficiency focuses on reducing waste and conserving resources, while occupant wellness refers to designing buildings to enhance occupants’ well-being through natural ventilation, daylighting fresh air circulation, and access to daylight.
The goal is to reduce environmental impact, energy consumption, and costs. Data center power consumption accounts for 2% of the total electricity consumed in the U.S., costing companies $3 billion annually to operate and maintain. To combat this, we will discuss some of the most significant issues facing data centers and how they can be solved with green building practices.
Consider space efficiency and energy efficiency.
Considering a green data center design, you’ll likely focus on maximizing space and energy efficiency. One way to do this is by implementing a modular design—when you have modules of various sizes that can be added or removed, it’s easier to optimize your building as needed.
You can also take advantage of computer modeling programs that simulate the performance of your facility under different conditions. This way, you can plan for upgrades and repairs before they happen.
There are three factors that data center developers should focus on:
In terms of design, this means creating an environment in which very little goes to waste—energy generated by one end of a building might be utilized elsewhere, or water left over from air conditioning might be put back into use by heat exchangers or cooling towers.
Data centers often have different energy needs at other times of the day, so having various options available can make it easier to match their needs with what’s available. However, there are negative consequences to relying too much on one source.
Consequently, data center operators are under increasing pressure to improve their energy efficiency, reduce costs and improve reliability.
With so much at stake, data center operators need to adopt a multi-pronged approach to energy efficiency, from designing highly efficient buildings to implementing sustainable technologies such as free cooling.
The Physical Structure
The physical structure of a data center needs to be planned with sustainability in mind from the outset—but don’t forget to keep innovation in mind. There are plenty of ways to make a traditional colocation facility greener and easier to maintain over time.
The Capacity Factor
The capacity factor measures how effectively a facility uses its available energy, and it’s an often-overlooked element when considering green buildings. While many data centers may have the latest and greatest technology to reduce their overall energy use, they may need to take advantage of opportunities to make the most of their service.
The capacity factor measures how much electricity is used rather than just installed, bringing up considerations that might need to be factored in otherwise. For example, in a facility with two cooling systems options, one may cost less upfront but requires a lot more electricity over time because of its higher energy draw. It would be helpful to know which option would have the highest capacity factor and energy cost per month.
Getting green building certification is a challenge.
There are many different guidelines and rating systems available, but they vary widely in the amount of work required to qualify, the level of rigor they use to measure performance, and the consistency with which they’re applied.
What if you spend all this time and money on green building upgrades, only to discover that your data center fails to meet the criteria for being LEED certified? Or what if you find during the process that one of your most important resources isn’t green?
When we started thinking about how to build our data center sustainably, we knew we needed to focus on two things: first, getting our site ready for LEED certification, and second, making sure our site was truly sustainable from both an environmental and an organizational standpoint.
The first step in earning this certification is to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire that asks about everything from the materials used to build the property and its systems to the amount of food waste produced by the project. The information in this questionnaire is vital to achieving certification and will determine if your project earns points on the LEED scale. Earned points are added and calculated into a final score on a scale of 1-100, with 100 representing perfect adherence to standards. Achieving this score will earn you LEED Gold certification.
The second step involves paying for an on-site review conducted by a LEED-accredited professional or team who will determine whether your project meets all the standards required for certification. You may also be asked to provide evidence from previous projects that demonstrate similar values and practices as your current ones. Finally, you need to pay an annual fee for each year your property remains eligible for earning points.
Green building for data centers is a new approach that has been advancing in the last few years. The goal is to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions to net-zero emissions.
Investing in green data center technologies is an essential step toward reducing the carbon footprint of a data center. Two fundamental mechanisms for reducing energy output from data centers are greater energy efficiency and lower energy consumption.
Another way to make a data center green is using sustainable power sources such as solar panels or wind turbines. These power sources have proven reliable even during periods of lower demand or outage due to weather.