For a long time, the most crucial goal for any data center was to minimize costs. But increasingly, companies realize that there’s another bottom line: minimizing the environmental impact of their data centers. One way is to make your data center net zero carbon emission.
Reducing data center carbon emissions is a growing priority for many businesses and municipalities, especially as the effects of global warming become more apparent.
What is Net Zero Carbon Emission in a Data Center?
Building a facility that requires significant energy to operate in the data center industry has been a common practice. One of the most important things that data centers can do to reduce carbon emissions is to ensure they do not consume more power than they produce.
The concept of net zero carbon emission has been around for a while, and it is now applied to data centers, which are the facilities that use computers to store and process massive amounts of information. The real challenge here is how to generate renewable electricity at a scale that matches the consumption at their data centers.
Today’s data centers consume up to 50% of the company’s electricity usage. So any company trying to go green will start with its data centers. Before considering other environmental impacts, we must be conscious of how much power we consume in our data centers.
As we continue to face the challenges of climate change, data center providers are working to reduce their carbon footprint even further. This involves many strategies, including working with renewable energy providers and investing in efficiency upgrades. While some organizations are adopting environmentally-friendly policies and practices, others want to purchase carbon offsets to continue polluting without guilt. However, there is a growing trend in data centers to self-regulate their energy usage and pursue what is known as net zero carbon emission.
How to Be Net Zero Carbon Emission?
The process of getting the data center net zero began by measuring the number of carbon emissions it produced through its electricity and natural gas use. The next step is determining how much renewable energy they need and what it will cost.
This new breed of data centers can produce 100 percent of the energy they need from renewable sources. They use smart grid technology to monitor and control power usage and often incorporate hydropower or solar power into their strategies. They’re not just about producing as much green energy as possible, either—they’re also about cutting down on waste.
It means using regenerative fuel cell technology to capture and store the energy their servers would otherwise be giving off as heat, turning it into electricity instead. It also means recycling water used in cooling systems and gray water in other building parts.
A net zero carbon emission data center likely won’t be running on 100 percent green energy power 24/7—it will still need electricity from the grid sometimes—but it will be able to offset its usage by producing alternative power when it can.
There are only two ways for data centers to reduce their carbon emissions.
Using electricity from cleaner sources
Organizations that own and operate data centers can reduce their carbon emissions by using electricity from cleaner power plants. By using grid mix or green power, they can save money while helping the environment.
In most cases, using grid mix or green power will cost no more than using conventional power. It may cost less for some data centers near a wind farm or other clean power plant offering pricing incentives for green energy.
The availability of green power differs across regions, so it is important to check with your local utility company to find out what options are available to you.
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Improve energy efficiency
The data center power consumption issue has been one for some time, but it is gaining increasing attention as organizations become more environmentally conscious. The question remains: how can we reduce the carbon footprint of our data centers? The first step is understanding where the data center’s energy is going.
Approximately half of the power used by a data center comes from the servers themselves. As such, data center providers can take some steps to improve server power efficiency.
One common solution is to upgrade existing servers with newer models that use less power to perform the same processing tasks. This could be in the form of a simple processor upgrade or moving to a new model entirely. While this is an option, it may only sometimes be feasible depending on your server workload and the age of existing equipment. In addition, depending on the type of server being replaced, there could be a significant cost associated with this solution.
Improved cooling technology, like water cooling, can reduce power consumption by up to 30% compared to air cooling. Most data centers have multiple redundancies to eliminate single points of failure. However, they are designed to handle the load of a system if a single component fails and not the load of the entire system falling at once. This means that even in the case of a major disaster where the systems that usually operate independently fail all at once, the redundancies should still be able to run independently for a certain amount of time.
We can design net zero carbon emission buildings for data centers to be sustainable in terms of energy consumption and production. A building with this level of sustainability will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere through its emissions and will also reduce the amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere through its absorption.
Net zero carbon emission is necessary to keep up with the competition and attract enterprise customers. By incorporating renewable energy sources into the data center, it can generate enough clean electricity to power its mission-critical operation, even if its servers are put to maximum use.
Many organizations have made significant strides to improve the efficiency of data centers and power consumption. The efforts invested in green data center benefits go beyond the energy saved and positively impact the company’s bottom line. The efforts also help improve the environment by reducing carbon footprint and solid waste generation.