According to various current scientific studies, digital technologies are responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
In this range, we obviously find use in data centers.
Their environmental impact is related, in particular, to the consumption of electricity for power supply and water for cooling IT equipment. The impact of energy consumption on the area is such that it sometimes leads to bans. For example, the city of Dublin has announced that it will no longer allow the construction of data centers until at least 2028 due to fears of energy shortages.
The fact remains that the growth of the data center is in line with a simple economic dynamic: to meet the ever-increasing demand for and use of digital technologies.
Integrating environmental considerations when choosing a hosting provider that will store your data in the data center ensures that environmental criteria are taken into account. Here are 7 tips for making the right choice.
1. PUE criterion
PUE (energy use efficiency) is a metric developed by Green Grid. This metric measures the energy efficiency of a data center.
It is calculated by dividing the total energy consumed by the data center by the total energy used by the IT equipment (server, storage, network). Specifically, the closer the data center PUE is to 1, the more efficient it is. This means that for every 1 watt consumed by a computer, 1 watt is needed at the input to the data center. Obviously, this remains a goal to be achieved.
While not a sufficient metric to measure the effectiveness of a data center, it is nonetheless a widely accepted metric.
2. Water consumption must be measured
A medium-sized data center absorbs 600,000 cubic meters per year, the equivalent of 6.5 Olympic swimming pools every day.
“Data centers can use significant amounts of water for cooling and humidity control. The use of energy efficient water sources can reduce the effective energy consumption of a data center,” reads the 2022 Best Practice Guidance for the EU Code of Conduct on Data Center Energy Consumption. Efficiency
Faced with this water consumption, not all data center participants are in the same boat.
Among the best practices, the paper highlights the fact that capturing and using rainwater and so-called “grey” water for evaporative cooling can reduce overall energy consumption.
Accurate measurement of the facility’s water consumption should also allow for better management and reduction of overall water consumption.
3. Efficient cooling must be ensured
It is not uncommon for cooling energy to account for 40% of a data center’s total consumption. In addition, the service provider must implement efficient cooling to limit the environmental impact. Natural cooling should be preferred and liquid cooling should be considered as an alternative solution. With regard to active cooling, cold air blasting may be preferred, provided the latest generations of these systems are selected and localized in hot or cold aisles.
4. Standardized computer hardware
The use of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers) digital equipment ensures that the equipment maintains operating temperature (24 degrees) and humidity conditions that greatly reduce cooling requirements and therefore water and energy consumption. .
5. Preferred combination of renewable energy sources
The quality of the energy balance used by data centers is essential to ensure the environmental impact. Share of renewable energy sources, i.e. renewable energy in the mix will be the determining factor when choosing a service provider. If the operator does not have accurate data on the energy consumption pattern feeding the data center, the location of the service provider allows you to determine what the energy consumption pattern, more or less carbon intensive, of the country in which it is located.
In addition, the distance between the data center and the place of data consumption is of great importance. The farther away the data center is, the higher the bill on the data side will be.
6. Redundancy and Reliability Affect Power Consumption
“Once IT equipment is hosted in a data center, it essentially has a complex infrastructure (inverters, batteries, generators, air conditioners, etc.) designed to maximize the availability of the equipment it hosts,” points out Green. IT. “The TIER standard, defined by the UPTIME Institute, classifies data centers from 1 to 4. TIER 1 data centers have one electrical circuit, while TIER 4 data centers have 2 electrical circuits with full redundancy.”
Thus, the latter provide a statistical availability of 99.995%. This type of data center requires a larger infrastructure that logically increases the PUE.
Thus, it is easier to have a good PUE with a low TIER, even if it means less impact on the level of redundancy and reliability.
7. Waste heat recovery
The heat generated by IT equipment can be wasted. But some players are starting to reuse this heat to heat public and private buildings. In France, data centers in the city of Paris heat public infrastructure. Robust use cases exist in Sweden and Denmark connection to heating networks, for example. There are several possibilities for reusing the generated waste heat, but these remain underdeveloped in France.