Category: Data centers

The Environmental Toll of a Netflix Binge

Read the full story in The Atlantic.

Data-center operations managers love to talk about energy systems—or, more specifically, efficiency in their use of energy systems. The fact that companies increasingly foreground this sustainability information when engaging with journalists demonstrates a growing public interest in The Cloud’s environmental impact. But really articulating and measuring that impact is difficult. It basically requires taking apart the constituent parts of the data center itself.

 

Webinar: Data Center Efficiency — What Climate Change, Energy & Sustainability Managers Should Know

December 2, 2015
noon-1:30 pm CST
Register at http://acco.site-ym.com/events/event_details.asp?id=697973

This webinar will explain data center energy efficiency opportunities in an easy-to-understand manner, empower participants to spot ways to reduce energy costs in a data center or server room, and provide information on free resources that can be leveraged. Attendees will hear case studies from experts at IBM, SAP, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Energy and facilities managers, energy efficiency advocates, sustainability professionals, and IT managers will benefit from this important discussion.

Webinar: Data Center Efficiency 101: What Sustainability Managers Should Know

Tue, Aug 11, 2015 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT
Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5446005703196428290

This non-technical presentation on data center energy efficiency will: 1) Explain savings opportunities in an easy-to-understand manner; 2) Empower anyone to spot ways to reduce energy costs in a data center or server room; and 3) Describe free resources you can tap for further assistance.

Recommended attendees: school administrators, energy managers, facilities managers, energy efficiency advocates, sustainability professionals, and IT managers. This webinar is sponsored by ENERGY STAR and hosted by Second Nature and AlterAction, a US EPA ENERGY STAR Technical Support Contractor.

The tech industry is threatening to drink California dry

Read the full story in The Guardian.

We hear a lot about what the tech giants are doing with our data, but what are they doing with our water?

Water keeps our internet-based economy afloat by ensuring equipment in data centres stays cool enough to funtion. Yet in California, the drought-ravaged epicenter of the technology industry, water is in ever-shorter supply. Nasa scientist Jay Famiglietti predicts the state has only one year of water left. This raises serious questions about the environmental impact of our burgeoning data demands.

Amazon data centers and the Ohio energy conundrum

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

There’s a lot of news swirling around Amazon’s decision to locate a data center in Ohio. While it’s undoubtedly a great economic opportunity for Ohio, given Amazon’s commitment to use renewable energy to power its facilities, one wonders how the company will make that happen under Ohio’s current energy policy.

Cooling the Cloud: Binghamton PhD Student Sets Sights on Improving Data-Center Efficiency

Read the full story from Binghampton University.

Data centers — large clusters of servers that power cloud computing operations, e-commerce and more — are one of the largest and fastest-growing consumers of electricity in the United States.

The industry has been shifting from open-air cooling of these facilities to increasingly complex systems that segregate hot air from cold air. When it comes to cost savings, there are definite advantages to the aisle containment systems, which have been estimated to save 30 percent of cooling energy — but it’s not yet clear how they increase the risk of overheating, or how to design them for greatest safety and optimum energy efficiency.

That’s what Husam Alissa, a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering, is trying to determine at Binghamton University’s state-of-the-art Center for Energy-Smart Electronic Systems (ES2).

 

Telecoms, Data Center Trends Heighten Climate Risks, Vulnerability

Read the full story in Triple Pundit.

Like water, energy and waste management, digital telecommunications and data centers have become utilities essential for modern societies to function sustainably. It is generally accepted that the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events — and the onset of gradual, long-terms shifts in weather patterns and climate — pose existential threats to critical information and communications technology (ICT) supply chains, as well as infrastructure.

But a recent report from Riverside Technology and Acclimatise found that the business risks of climate change as they relate to telecommunications and data centers are poorly recognized — particularly with respect to infrastructure and supply chains. Similarly, climate change resiliency and adaptation plans in this critical segment of the U.S. ICT sector are poorly developed, concluded the report, which was conducted on behalf of the federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA).

America’s Data Centers Consuming Massive and Growing Amounts of Electricity

Via the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Much of the massive amounts of electricity that America’s data centers devour to support our business and online activity is being wasted running computer servers doing little or no work most of the time, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Improved energy efficiency practices could cut energy waste by at least 40 percent, saving over $3 billion annually.

“Most of the attention is focused on the highly visible hyperscale ‘cloud’ data centers like Google’s and Facebook’s, but they already are very efficient and represent less than 5 percent of U.S. data center electricity consumption. Our small, medium, corporate, and multi-tenant data centers are still squandering huge amounts of energy,” said Pierre Delforge, NRDC director of high-tech energy efficiency.

Developed in partnership with Anthesis, “Scaling Up Energy Efficiency Across the Data Center Industry: Evaluating Key Drivers and Barriers” notes that while huge “cloud” server farms have made significant efficiency improvements, progress has been much slower and uneven across the nearly 3 million other data centers in businesses and organizations that house 95 percent of servers across the country, costing them billions of dollars and kilowatt hours. In fact, up to one-third of servers are no longer needed but are still consuming large amounts of electricity while many others are grossly underutilized, operating at no more than18 percent of capacity, the report said.

On the whole, U.S. data centers guzzled an estimated 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2013 —enough to power all of New York City’s households twice over and growing. And data center power needs are estimated to grow significantly. By 2020, annual data center energy consumption is expected to reach 140 billion kilowatt hours in the nation. This could cost business $13 billion annually for electricity equivalent to that generated by 50 large coal-fired power plants emitting nearly 150 million tons of carbon pollution.

Although the full extent of energy waste is unknown due to a lack of consistent metrics, the report estimates that if just half of the potential savings from cost-effective energy efficiency best practices were realized, electricity use could be cut by 40 percent. In 2014, that would equal $3.8 billion in savings for businesses and cut 39 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, equivalent to the electicity generated by 34 large, coal-fired power plants and enough to power all of Michigan’s homes for a year.

“New practices and policies are needed to accelerate the pace and scale of the adoption of energy efficiency best-practices throughout the industry,” Delforge said. “Nearly one-third of all leased data center space will come up for renewal over the next year, so the time to act is now.”

Key findings from the NRDC-Anthesis report include:

  • Up to 30 percent of servers are “comatose” and no longer needed because projects have ended or business processes changed, but are still plugged in and consuming electricity.
  • Much of the energy consumed by U.S. data centers powers servers operating at 12 to 18 percent of capacity. Even sitting virtually idle, servers use significant amounts of power 24/7.
  • In 80 percent of organizations, the department responsible for data center management is separate from the one paying the electric bills. This “split incentive” reduces the likelihood of implementation of commonsense efficiency measures.

The report makes a number of  recommendations, including: aligning incentives for decision makers, developing simple metrics for measuring server utilization, public disclosure of data center energy and carbon performance, and establishing “green leases” for multi-tenant data centers.

Short and long versions of the report can be found at http://www.nrdc.org/energy/data-center-efficiency-assessment.asp. Delforge’s blog is at  http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/pdelforge/new_study_americas_data_center.html. An infographic and graphs are available.

5 purposeful ways to tame ‘accidental’ data centers

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The best-laid plans for green office buildings are meaningless if the occupants ignore them. Remember the flap last August over how much power the Platinum LEED Bank of America tower in New York was using? Suffice it to say, way more than anticipated.

Few things can skew energy usage more insidiously than the energy for running and cooling random computer servers, storage arrays and network gear shoved into closets or conference rooms originally intended for other purposes. Unfortunately, outside of big Fortune 500 companies that can for data center gurus, this practice is apparently pretty common: the Natural Resources Defense Council figures that at least half of U.S. servers are unmanaged, accounting for between 30 percent and 50 percent of all the electricity being used in small and midsize offices.

UTSA and Microsoft establish sustainable energy research and development pact

Read the full story from the University of Texas San Antonio.

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Microsoft Corp. (Microsoft) announced today a three-year agreement to research and develop sustainable technologies to make data centers more energy efficient and economically viable.

In addition to the research agreement, Microsoft made a $1 million gift to UTSA to support the university’s research and technology programs.

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