The Importance of an Environmentally-Conscious Data Centre for your Business

Gartner has estimated that the IT industry produces 2 per cent of global CO2 emissions — a per centage almost equal to the aviation industry. Worldwide, the digital warehouses use about 30 billion watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants, according to the New York Times.

But it’s more than a green issue. Having your infrastructure stored in a data centrethat has poor cooling, ventilation or power balance can increase the risk your systems will suffer downtime, poor performance or damage. When looking for a data centre to host your infrastructure, considering the following environmental design elements and monitoring features can ensure your hardware is protected and runs at optimal levels.

Environmental Management Plan

An Environmental Management Plan focuses on sustainability targets and strategies to implement environmentally-conscious design and operational elements in the data centre. When looking for a data centre provider, ensure that their EMP is audited to ISO 14001 standards on an annual basis. The certification is considered the only auditable international standard defining requirements for the creation, implementation and maintenance of EMPs to better represent and manage the long-term commitment to carbon reduction and sustainability.

Heating and cooling

Better energy utilisation can increase the power efficiency for the entire data centre, meaning your systems run better and faster. Over time, this energy efficiency can reduce operations and maintenance costs — savings that can be passed onto to you as the customer. Features such as Cold Air Economisers will reduce energy consumption and can ensure optimum Power Utilisation Efficiency (PUE) in data centres. Other things to look for in your data centre provider are purpose design and layout of cooling and ventilation using proven hot/cold aisle ASHRAE — American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers — design. The ASHRAE standard is focussed on energy efficiency, sustainability and building systems.

Building automation systems

A BAS offers visibility of any inefficiency and environmental issue. These systems will have a strict understanding of all site environmental controls, including temperature, humidity and access alerts, and provide clear mapping of the entire site to allow immediate identification of incidents. Such a system also offers all monitoring and alerting on building items and any trends in performance. The best BAS will also have security alerts or breaches recorded on cameras and escalated to the network operations centre (NOC) and the data centre manager.

A strict maintenance activity regime

Components designed to be energy-efficient still need to be serviced and maintained. Data centre providers with a dedicated maintenance team ensure all equipment is serviced regularly and promptly. This dedication will cut the risk of malfunctioning systems that can eat up energy use and lead to slower-performing systems. It also helps to choose a data centre where facilities are monitored on a 24/7 basis to provide immediate response to any environmental issues.

When looking for a data centre provider, or an advisor to discuss your own Environmental Management Plans, you should enquire about their environmental efforts and EMP. Asking these questions upfront will help you feel more comfortable about the conditions in which you are storing your systems, in addition to your reduced environmental footprint. The data centre teams at Datacom are already having this discussion with our clients about facilities, performance and efficiency in our data centre sites as well as theirs.

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