As the producers of over 130 billion kWh of carbon annually, the importance of greening data centres to reduce carbon emissions cannot be understated.
Toward this end, many IT companies are stepping up their efforts, with Hewlett Packard’s plans for the world’s first zero carbon data centre serving as a prime example.
Another example, this time a retrofit of an existing building, is the Internap Santa Clara Data Centre, which was recognised by the United States Green Building Initiative (GBI) last week as a case study on how to incorporate environmentally friendly features into an existing data centre structure.
Located in Santa Clara, California, the 71,954 square foot building functions as a re-used two storey office and data centre consisting of 10,756 square feet of office space on the first floor, 37,205 square feet of data centre processing and 21,207 square feet of second floor office space. The building’s construction consists of a combination of existing reused concrete tilt panels and existing reused steel stud walls.
The GBI says the building boasts plenty of admirable green features.
In the building’s office spaces, 100 per cent of the electricity is purchased from renewable sources. The GBI believes the purchase of more than 400,000 kWh of renewable energy credits is helping to save 487,585 points of carbon dioxide.
More than that, the combination of a number of energy efficient attributes, including high-efficiency lighting and HVAC systems and controls, has resulted in reduced energy use across the facility to the tune of 49 per cent.
The GBI adds that the facility is the first in California to use reclaimed water in the cooling towers as opposed to potable water, saving an estimated 27,849,500 gallons per year.
Other areas, too, were not forgotten. During renovations, around 99 per cent of the exterior structural components were reused, avoiding significant dispersion of construction waste to landfill, while nearly 15 per cent of the materials came from recycled content. Meanwhile, Internap says it has adopted an environmentally friendly cleaning program and policy which aims to promote a healthy environment for its staff by reducing air contaminants and volatile organic compounds.
Proximity to public transport, as well, helps to promote environmentally friendly commuting options among employees, as do carpool parking stalls which encourage workers to rideshare where possible.
Finally, there is the design of the data centre facilities themselves, which incorporates flexible, high density power configurations or up to 12 KW per rack, a feature the company says enables customers to adjust power consumption on demand without requiring more space.
Because of all this, and especially because of the use of reclaimed water, the centre is recognised as a two Green Globes certification – a certification promoted by GBI in the US which competes with the Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED) program.
Randy Ortiz, Internap’s vice president of data centre design and engineering, says he is confident the firm’s Santa Clara data centre will serve as a template for environmental sustainability at any of the company’s new facilities going forward.
“Everybody wins when you increase energy efficiency, so it’s incumbent upon us to explore all possible opportunities,” Ortiz says.
As the world’s IT sector moves toward a greener future, new data centres are increasingly being built to incorporate environmentally friendly features in their building and design.
The move toward retrofitting existing buildings has not escaped the sector either.