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4 Steps to Prepare Your Data Center for Net Zero Carbon Emissions

4 Steps to Prepare Your Data Center for Net Zero Carbon Emissions - AnD Cable Management Blog

The race to net zero carbon emissions is on – our economy and our world depend on it. The data center industry, one that tends to gobble up lots of power is at the forefront of a number of initiatives being implemented around the world. How will you prepare your data center for net zero carbon emissions? Here’s 4 steps that will get you started.

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4 Steps to Prepare Your Data Center for Net Zero Carbon Emissions - AnD Cable Management Blog

The Situation Now

Data centers first became the focus of Greenpeace and other groups back in the mid-to-early 2010 boom. The focus at that time was on enterprise-level data centers – the big guys, in other words. The fact that data centers used lots of power became evident and so the move toward minimizing that impact grew in both urgency and popularity.

So much so that the position of Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) grew to overtake the emerging position of Chief Security Officers. Those in charge of cybersecurity ended up having to change their title to CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) because CSO had already been widely recognized.

Since then, smaller edge computing data centers have become the new focus. With COVID hastening the transition, today, cloud computing, AI, remote monitoring and other data center management trends have now established a level of control and sustainability not previously thought possible.

Thanks in part to these technological developments, net zero carbon emissions now feels more achievable and less like the plot-line in a futuristic sci-fi flick. So, in what areas of the data center can emissions be reduced?

Step One – Make a Commitment

There are several individual measures that promote sustainability. The key is to take all of those individual components and standards and work them into an ecosystem that supports your emissions goal.

Companies and countries alike are making a commitment to reducing carbon emissions as a part of their brand. However, words are not enough, and these companies – including the largest hyperscaling data center companies in the world – are taking action. Advances are happening quickly in the area of artificial intelligence (AI), remote management and data center design. Being on the leading edge of these developments shows that your data center is part of this commitment to a “greener cloud infrastructure.”

Like most strategies, it’s only once a firm commitment at the top of the organization has been made that the necessary actions can be taken, including providing leaders with the authority to make decisions that align with the goal and that resources, responsibilities and accountabilities are allocated.

Step Two – Use Sustainable Energy Sources

Solar, wind and even hydroelectric power are all sustainable sources of power that can make dependence on coal and other carbon-intense fuels a thing of the past. Companies like Tesla and Microsoft are testing and deploying battery technology that can run data centers longer than ever before, even with no sun or wind available.

This means only using the local grid as your primary power source if sustainable energy is available 24+7. Otherwise, the data center will need to provide at least some sustainable sources of its own, like a solar or wind farm designed to directly support a data center.

Because this is expensive, only the largest, hyperscale companies with large data centers can be 100% self-sufficient. Hybrid solutions could help to bridge the gap, such as supplementing local power supplies with solar and wind on site. Selecting a site that’s close to a local, sustainable power grid should be a factor in choosing where to locate your data center and will support the goal of net zero carbon emissions.

Step Three – Operate at Peak Efficiency

For data centers, not only should your power be sourced responsibly, but your data center needs to operate efficiently. One way to reduce carbon dependency is to simply use less power. Strategies can include initiatives such as pro-active device monitoring to identify ‘Zombie Servers’ – stacks that contribute little to performance, but still use significant resources to maintain.

The efficient and responsible use of power, as covered by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12, is about Responsible Production and Consumption. Some other standards include:

  • PUE (Power Use Effectiveness) – Determined by dividing the power coming into the data center by the power used by the computer infrastructure.
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) – A green building certification program that rates building design
  • PAR4 – A new form of power measurement that accurately measures IT equipment power usage to help optimally plan for capacity.
  • ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) – Standards for the temperature and humidity operating ranges for IT equipment and data centers.
  • CCF (Cooling Capacity Factor) – CCF is a metric used to evaluate rated cooling capacity against how that capacity is actually used.

These standards are just a few of those used to rate the efficiency of a data center and are designed to help data centers move toward net zero through more effective use of the power they have available.

Step Four – Build-in Resilience and Agility

The real job of a data center is uptime. Yes, customers want a green data center that is moving toward, if not already achieving, net zero emissions. However, at the same time, they expect that there will be no reduction in service. They expect full uptime, speed, and data protection.

This means that systems must not only be green, but must be reliable and include redundancies, power backups, and other protections, including cybersecurity and physical layer security to protect both customer assets and their data.

The good news is that not only is clean energy better for the environment, but it is also more reliable in many cases, allowing data centers to keep uptime near 99.999% standards. This is a balance that sustainable data centers must constantly monitor, adjust to and plan for.

Net zero carbon emissions is the standard of the future. Your data center can prepare now. Use clean energy, and plan to scale with that energy use in mind. Use the energy you have efficiently and plan for resiliency as part of your transition strategy. It’s what clients and customers and the world deserves.

Have questions about optimizing your physical layer, monitoring and remote control or ways to use your floor space efficiently? Contact Us at AnD Cable Products. We’re here to help.

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About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
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1 thought on “4 Steps to Prepare Your Data Center for Net Zero Carbon Emissions

  1. Those are some amazing ideas, Louis! Sustainability should be a big concern for data centers as this industry already consumes close to 1% of the world’s electricity. So, they need to incorporate climate/carbon goals into their projects as much as possible.

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