Sunday, October 4, 2009

GREEN LIVING: The Push Toward Green Data Centers

By Kim Kinrade

During the past twenty years the processing of data has cut down the amount of paperwork needed to drive businesses, as well as increasing their productivity at a phenomenal rate. One would shudder at the thought of having to go back to "the good old days." But with all the saved time, paper and labor, as well as increased efficiency, the costs in power to drive the vast flow of information has skyrocketed. Industry experts estimate that data centers eat up between 1.5% and 3% of all the electricity in the country, which is about how much power the whole state of Michigan uses in a year.

While most of the attention is aimed at the automotive industry and other areas that spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere the huge data centers have been overlooked. With their endless banks of servers being cooled by huge air conditioning systems data centers have become a major cause of power usage. Some of these high-density servers are capable of generating 30 kilowatts per rack and yet companies still can't buy enough power from the utilities for their needs. With this much power flowing through data centers even the smallest turns in energy conservation can mean phenomenal collective savings.

In other areas of the data centers vast quantities of paper, cans and garbage of all kinds are just being dumped into landfills.

So how does a business create a green data center?

1. Alternative Cooling Methods: Some companies with buildings near water are using heat pumps to cool their server rooms. Other businesses are situated on large acreages and this land can be used for geothermal heat pumps. In northern areas controlled dampers open to let the cool air in during winter.

2. Photovoltaic Panels: A significant amount of the electricity for a company can be supplied by solar panels. As solar technology increases the price of more efficient systems is coming down.

3. Passive Solar: Many structures are being heated and their hot water supplied by passive solar energy.

4. Creative Landscaping: The vast expanses of golf-green lawn seen spreading out around many businesses require huge amounts of water and chemical fertilizers to maintain. Using more native plants and shrubs are used to the climate and need very little maintenance or watering. Not only that, they are resistant to the local pests so weed and insect killers are not necessary. In addition, other shrubs and trees can be watered through drip-irrigation systems that use "gray water" form the building. Gray water is the waste-water from sinks, showers and condensation from air conditioners.

5. Recycling: Every office should have containers for recyclable materials and those for composting. Separating these items can not only save on dumpster bills but many materials can be picked up by salvage companies who will pay for them.

Kim Kinrade invites you to to his website and blog on the many wonders of Nova Scotia, Canada's Atlantic Playground. There is so much to see and do in Nova Scotia within a small area that it has become an optimum destination for many travelers.

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