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Green Colocation Practices: Sustainable Solutions

Green Colocation Practices: Sustainable Solutions


Like many other industries, colocation providers are working hard to make their operations as sustainable as possible. Here is a brief guide to some commonplace green colocation practices and how they benefit the environment.

Eco-friendly infrastructure in colocation

Here are three specific steps data centers are taking to become more eco-friendly.

Reducing the use of energy

Advanced power management, dynamic voltage scaling, and optimized architectures in new-generation hardware minimize energy consumption while maintaining performance.

Virtualization, consolidating multiple virtual machines on a single server, maximizes resource utilization, reducing the need for additional hardware and lowering energy demands. Cloud computing extends this efficiency by dynamically allocating resources based on demand.

Cooling systems are evolving with liquid cooling solutions and precision air conditioning, enhancing heat dissipation. Artificial intelligence and machine learning contribute to predictive analytics and proactive energy optimization. In particular, they make it possible to adjust resources dynamically for optimal efficiency.

How this helps the environment

If the data center still primarily uses fossil fuels, then lowering energy consumption directly results in a substantial reduction in carbon emissions. It also helps to reduce the environmental damage caused by the extraction of fossil fuels and the air pollution they cause during use.

If the data center is mainly powered by renewable energy, then the main benefit is to lighten the load on the energy-producing infrastructure. This helps to extend its lifespan which makes it even more sustainable. It also reduces the risk of the data center having to fall back to fossil fuels due to running out of sustainable energy.

Reducing the use of water

Data centers are adopting innovative technologies to minimize water usage, particularly in cooling systems.

Liquid cooling methods like immersion and direct-to-chip cooling reduce reliance on water for temperature control. Closed-loop systems efficiently recycle and reuse cooling water, while advanced cooling towers optimize water usage within these loops.

Additionally, equipment designs integrating air-side economizers and evaporative cooling methods offer alternative mechanisms that significantly reduce water consumption.

How this helps the environment

By adopting water-efficient practices, these data centers directly contribute to the conservation of vital water resources. This, in turn, safeguards freshwater ecosystems, ensuring the availability of water for aquatic and water-dense habitats (e.g. marshland).

Lower water usage by data centers alleviates stress on local water sources. This reduces the risk of depletion and preserves the natural balance of ecosystems. It also reduces the environmental impact associated with water treatment and distribution. In particular, it minimizes the energy requirements for these processes.

Adopting sustainable construction practices

Data centers are increasingly prioritizing sustainable construction practices to mitigate their environmental impact.

Embracing eco-friendly building materials is a fundamental step, with a focus on recycled and locally sourced materials. Sustainable designs incorporate energy-efficient layouts. In particular, they use natural lighting and optimized airflow to reduce reliance on artificial lighting and climate control systems.

Moreover, the deployment of green building certifications, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), ensures adherence to strict environmental standards.

How this helps the environment

Sustainable construction prioritizes the use of eco-friendly building materials. These materials, often sourced from renewable or recycled sources, help decrease the demand for virgin resources. This reduction in resource extraction contributes to the preservation of natural habitats and ecosystems, fostering biodiversity and ecological balance.

Sustainable designs within data centers implement energy-efficient layouts, passive heating and cooling systems, and optimized natural lighting. This significantly reduces the data center’s energy consumption. It therefore directly translates into a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and also eliminates the air pollution associated with energy production.

Renewable energy adoption in colocation

Colocation facilities are increasingly focused on integrating renewable energy sources into their operations. This can be done through the installation of onsite renewable energy infrastructure or through partnerships with renewable energy providers.

Onsite renewable installations

Colocation providers can often generate some (or even all) the energy they need using their own on-site renewable installations. The two most popular options are solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays and wind turbines. These are both mature technologies and harness natural resources that are available in a wide variety of locations.

Integration with onsite battery storage systems enhances reliability and grid stability by storing excess energy for use during periods of low renewable generation or high demand. Smart grid technologies enable seamless integration of onsite renewables with traditional grid infrastructure, allowing for efficient power distribution and management.

Moreover, onsite renewable installations often incorporate sophisticated monitoring and control systems to optimize performance and ensure consistent energy production. Remote monitoring platforms enable real-time data analysis, facilitating proactive maintenance and optimizing energy output.

Power purchase agreements (PPAs) and offsite renewables

Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are commonly employed by colocation providers to access renewable energy without the need for onsite installations. Through PPAs, providers secure a predetermined amount of renewable energy from external sources. This flexibility allows colocation facilities to support renewable energy projects beyond their immediate location, contributing to the growth of clean energy infrastructure.

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