04-29-13 | Blog Post

How the Data Center Industry Lowers the Carbon Footprint

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Data Center Industry Lowers Carbon Footprint
For many years, the data center industry has received a bad rap for being energy hogs.  In 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned everyone that data centers and servers would consume 3% of the nation’s energy by 2011. – This prediction did not happen. It is actually around 1.5% – Then last year, the New York Times published a damaging article “Power, Pollution, and the Internet” claiming that most data centers wastefully consume a lot of energy.  Read How the Cloud is Changing the Data Center’s Bad Reputation for Energy Inefficiency for a response to some of the major points of the article. What organizations and experts fail to understand is how data centers are actually lowering the carbon footprint.

Lowering the Carbon Footprint
I had a chance to sit down with Yan Ness, co-CEO of Online Tech to discuss his thoughts on how the data center industry has impacted their carbon footprint. Watch the video below:

Every piece of hardware consumes some energy.  And for data centers this hardware consumes a lot of power.  As a result, the data center industry has begun using technology to make hardware more efficient.  “We can do more today than we could three or five years ago,” says Ness.  “We use less energy to do more work.”

Ness also uses the following example: If you take all the hundreds of companies who are consuming energy to power their servers and air conditioning and move them into a centralized location there are important advantages. First, the data center is much more efficient than any of the office buildings that were running their servers. Secondly, there is one centralized company paying for all of the power consumed by the servers and other equipment. Now, it makes economical sense for that data center to make capital investments and become more energy efficient; whereas it would be very unlikely that any of these companies could make these types of investments.

Data centers are in the business to store data. It does take power to run the servers, run the equipment, and run the air conditioning to keep the servers cool. And this power costs money. What people fail to consider is that it is in the data center industry’s best interest to become as energy efficient as possible. There is a direct benefit to constantly monitor the energy use of their facilities and make investments to improve efficiencies since it affects the bottom line.

Data Center Energy Efficiencies
The data center industry has made great strides in incorporating technology and investing in capital improvements to lower their carbon footprint. In 2012, Online Tech invested $1 million dollars into their Mid-Michigan data center and received an EPA ENERGY STAR certification for their energy efficiencies. This improvement resulted in Online Tech being in the top 25 percent of facilities in the nation regarding energy performance. Read how Online Tech has incorporated other energy efficiencies in their Michigan data centers.

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