Earth Day 2021: Keeping our Datacenters Green

Sustainability has quickly become a household term, making consumers think twice about their grocery bag choices, preferred fashion brands or even diets.

Our society’s awareness of our personal and corporate carbon footprint continues to increase as we learn more about the harmful effects of pollution on our planet and what causes pollution itself. We know every plastic shopping bag, item returned via shipping, and mile driven has a cost. But what kind of costs accumulate when we use data?

Many people are keenly aware of the toll their plastic straws or lightbulbs have on our planet, but very few understand the cost of their email or cloud storage platforms,” says Haynes Strader, Chief Development Officer at Skybox Datacenters. “Because these costs aren’t tangible, it is easy for consumers to miss the impact technology can have on our planet if left unsupervised.”

Clearly, the collection, transmission and storage of data is growing exponentially. During the COVID-19 pandemic, mission critical facilities carried countless meetings online, according to Zoom, the number of annual meeting minutes is now over 3.3 trillion. As we know, a Zoom call can have a much lower footprint than a commute to work, which is good news for our planet. But cloud computing and data centers go well beyond virtual meetings and have become essential for our society’s basic daily needs. Instant health information like wireless heartrate monitors at hospitals or consistent uptime for our most trusted financial institutions would be null and void without datacenters. You would be hard pressed to think of a mobile or desktop application that a data center doesn’t support in one way or another. But knowing that data centers have their own carbon footprint, how can these facilities create a more sustainable pattern for users?

Immersion cooling, CFD Modeling, carbon offset programs, and LEED certification are all methods our team has implemented across our portfolio to ensure lower overall PUE ratios, providing a greener mission critical solution,” Strader adds. “Our data centers (including our new Skybox Chicago I), have 100% renewable power available for our clients. Our green-focused methodology can enable customers to significantly reduce their carbon footprint, while also encouraging new green-energy generation on the grid."

So how can your organization lower your data center carbon footprint?

  • Optimize densities and cooling. Many datacenters are capable of running well below the market standard 1.5 PUE. (Skybox has customers running PUEs as low as 1.03!) Think through efficient cooling solutions and density design on IT production equipment to ensure optimal PUE.
  • If possible, use cold and hot aisle containment. The mixing of cold and hot air in data centers should be avoided, providing higher power and cooling efficiencies.
  • Tune into water usage. Efficient cooling mechanisms, like MagLev air cooled chillers and liquid immersion provide new ways to minimize the impact that cooling a data center has on the environment.
  • Consider behind-the-meter green energy offset. Whether solar, wind or hydro, there are many ways to produce energy when the environment is cooperating by reducing traditional energy.
  • Reconsider green credits or green energy offsets. Data centers have the opportunity to encourage the development of new renewable energy even when using tools like green credits and offsets to counter any traditional energy usage. These types of programs make green energy available and affordable for everyone and provide investment grade returns that allow for more investment in the space.

If your team needs a data center solution and wants to lower your carbon footprint whether colocation or enterprise, check out how Skybox can help.