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The Green Data Center: Improving Data Center Sustainability Through Operations

7x24 Exchange 2022 Spring Magazine | The Green Data Center: Improving Data Center Sustainability Through Operations

By Lee Kirby

Sustainability is now a top-of-mind issue in data center management, as data centers consume an estimated 200 terawatt hours (TWh) each year. With digital transformation, the rise of human-induced climate change is at an all-time high and the growth of connected device workloads is only growing more. It must be our global imperative to focus on energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint. In the quest to make your data center more ‘green’, we share some solid strategies to help data centers more efficiently transition to more sustainable practices as an industry worldwide.

Salute Mission Critical, a global data center services company, shares an efficient delivery model that uses fewer people, optimizes processes and with fully integrated technology, can be a key solution to the increasing sustainability issue. In short, Salute helps data centers efficiently transition to more sustainable practices for the world’s most sophisticated hyperscalers, colo providers and edge operators. With that experience, Salute has perfected a model to optimize operations, reduce operating expenses, and minimize risk. The advantage of this model has an enormous commercial impact through enhanced cost savings and a societal impact through reduced energy consumption.

The Responsibilities Framework below is the starting point to understanding and implementing a program that will drive positive outcomes.

  • Company Responsibility – The company is committed to controlling its actions.
  • Service Delivery Responsibility – The company will continue to drive optimization, flexibility, training and best practices to increase value.
  • Global Responsibility – The company can help apply expertise and creativity to integrate sustainability across their data centers.

The key to success for sustainable operations is to define the partnership responsibilities between the various stakeholders. Once established, the transformation begins. Below are the steps to becoming a sustainable operator.

The key to taking a holistic approach is one that encompasses the life cycle of the data center and manages all systems, processes, and teams as an integrated ecosystem. An ecosystem that includes these elements:

  • Data Center Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) – Incorporating a data center lifecycle analysis (LCA) helps make more informed decisions regarding design and operational activities that contribute to and can reduce a data center’s environmental impact.
  • Workforce Development – Appropriately resource, train and incentivize the workforce to embed sustainability across all job functions.
  • Resource and Goods Optimization/ Prioritization – the 4 most important elements to resource utilization include:
  • Reducing electrical power generation from fossil fuels by way of geothermal, wind and solar energy sources.
  • Proactively reducing water consumption and understanding local water supply.
  • Not throwing away decommissioned equipment, using certified recycling and leveraging sustainable goods/personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Make informed decisions on predictive maintenance plans with a focus on thresholds, risk mitigation, and optimization of contractors.
  • Audits – important audits include:
  • Dematerialization audit
  • Design and Planning Review
  • Full Emissions Audit
  • Scope 2 + 3 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Audit
  • Local Requirement Consideration – work closely with local authorities and planning councils to be proactive in changes that may be enacted.
  • Measuring Success – You can start with the top 5 most common metrics:
  • Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency (DCIE)
  • Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)
  • Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE)
  • Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE)
  • Electronics Disposal Efficiency (EDE)
  • With KPIs established, the next step is to establish an effective real-time monitoring solution that immediately identifies deviations and supports key functions in the change management process.
  • Goal Setting – Having goals associated with a sustainability road map can help facilities improve upon future sustainability implementation. As the industry learns more about different practices to become more sustainable, the goals can be adjusted to transform services and solutions.

Remember, the data center companies leading the sustainability charge will bring these benefits to their customers first. Pioneering new sustainable strategies can be a competitive advantage and lower the costs for data centers and customers alike, all the while impacting the environment for future generations. Embracing change and optimizing traditional standards is critical for making the ethical impacts needed to turn the current trajectory around. It is up to us and if you do it right, sustainable operations can drive bottom-line results that will have a long-term economic and social benefit.

Lee Kirby is Co-Founder and Chairman of Salute Mission Critical. He can be reached at marketing@saluteinc.com.

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