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Reducing Carbon Footprint in Data Centers

The reduction in carbon footprint is starting to take hold with some companies. Carbon footprint is the measurement of greenhouse gasses (GHG) emitted. As we consider the impact on greenhouse gasses the environment, carbon footprint becomes a clear target. A heavy consumer of energy, data centers will increasingly become a lightning rod.

There are many ways for individuals and companies to reduce their carbon footprint. For data center owners and operators, energy consumption is a key metric. The EPA and DOE are both leading efforts to increase energy efficiencies in data centers. With the EPA projecting significant energy consumption increases for data centers, they risk becoming a target for better consumption methods. eBay is an example of one company making a difference. In a recent report by Data Center Journal, eBay is targeting a 15% reduction by 2012. One example of eBay’s efforts is their Gold level LEED certified data center in San Jose.

Many have used the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric by the Green Grid as one way to measure power efficiencies. While a good first step, as an industry, we need a holistic approach that provides a consistent way to measure power input and compute output. The methodology needs to account for the type of power coming into the facility too. One approach to measuring efficiencies in the data center has been tackled by Data Center Pulse. Their DC Stack provides a holistic approach to understanding efficiencies in the data center. An additional step in the measurements could include the carbon score for energy coming into the data center. For example, renewable energy sources (as opposed to those from burning of fossil fuels) have a lower carbon footprint.

Thought efforts from Data Center Pulse, Green Grid, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and others, we can expect to see further work done toward understand, measuring and improving energy efficiencies in our data centers.

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