Data centre sustainability: why is it so important?

By Daisy Slater
It is no surprise that the data centre industry has changed a lot over the past couple of years, but what role does sustainability play in its future...

Sustainability is increasingly becoming one of the top concerns and priorities for many companies, not just in the data centre industry. In recent years there has been a major shift towards sustainability and the importance of using reusable energy. 

Data centres can use up a significant amount of the world's energy resources as well as omitting vast amounts of heat. Therefore many data centre facilities and companies are trying to strive towards a greener future. 

Issues facing the data centre industry

One of the main issues that data centres face is the amount of heat produced at the facilities. Overheating can cause performance to deteriorate and can also permanently damage the infrastructure and hardware. Not only does the heat cause serious issues for the facilities themselves but it also has a detrimental effect on the environment too. 

Therefore, cooling solutions play a vital role in reducing these effects on the environment and the infrastructure. However, cooling solutions and systems create the most energy consumption throughout the centres as well as costing a significant amount to implement and run. These systems consist of industrial equipment such as chillers, cooling towers and pumps.

This has been the age old issue at these sites, as the infrastructure needed to reduce the environmental impact are some of the most costly and energy consuming solutions available. 

With the ever increasing need for data centres, as more and more of our services and businesses move online, the amount of energy consumed also increases. A recent report has suggested that with this increasing demand for more data centres, they will be set to consume one-fifth of all global energy. 

The future of data centre sustainability

In order to tackle the issues of the rising energy consumption, many companies have already started to take the necessary measures and steps towards a greener future using natural cooling and sustainable energy. 

A recently published article by The Green Grid, a non profit organisation working towards improving data centre efficiency, suggested that around half of all US-based data centre facilities are already utilising natural cooling to reduce their energy consumption. It also suggested that another quarter of US-based facilities are considering turning towards natural cooling solutions in the future. 

Natural cooling is the process of filtering the outside air to provide optimal temperatures in order to keep the infrastructure cool and working efficiently. This doesn’t mean that data centres need to be located in regions with extreme temperatures, as the cooling process is complex and innovative. 

Whatever process is chosen, there is no doubt that our data centres must become more sustainable in order to avoid the extreme and negative environmental effects. With data traffic only set to rise it is important that these measures are put in place now so we can strive towards a greener future.  

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