Protecting the environment was never unimportant but the environmentalists’ calls are getting attention only now. Data centers being the largest consumers of electricity and spouting loads of hazardous waste into the environment are now taking effective steps to reduce power consumption and manage electronic, chemical and toxic waste responsibly and intelligently.
We take this issue up today because we are a responsible organization and realize the immediacy of taking environment-friendly measures at organizational and individual levels.
In recent news, Wipro, India based company best known for its IT services, topped the list of rankings in the 18th edition of Greenpeace’s ‘Guide to Greener Electronics.’ Wipro has augmented its use of renewable energy resources and reduced greenhouse gas emissions with effective measures. The company also scores high for recycling, supply chain and product take-back programs. Kudos, Wipro.
In this article, we’ll talk about how technology biggies are achieving remarkably low PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) scores with sustainable success and popularity. We can all learn from these examples.
Apple’s Macs are energy efficient and free of harmful chemicals like brominated fire retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The Cupertino giant also has a strong electronics and PC take-back program worldwide (not yet available in India), and is noted for its use of renewable energy. In fact, its new spaceship-like campus in Cupertino, California, may be powered by natural gas.
Google records an impressive average PUE of 1.14 among its data centers with a capacity of 5MW or higher. But its best efforts are seen at the data center in Hamina, Finland which was earlier a 1950s era paper mill. Google has used an existing 450 meter tunnel beneath the facility to bring in seawater from the Gulf of Finland to cool its servers, mix the warm wastewater with seawater, and return it to the Gulf without pollution or high costs.
Facebook opened its new data center in Prineville, Ore and also launched the OCP (Open Compute Project) to share its green efficiency secrets. Some tactics used include servers holding taller heat sinks than traditional servers which can be opened and serviced without tools. A second data center in Forest City, N.C., will be the first live test of OCP’s outdoor-air cooling designs in atypical temperature and humidity conditions. Both facilities record low PUE scores, around 1.06, as per Facebook reports.
Online companies are usually accused of hogging power for keeping their sites highly available at all times. However, e-commerce giant eBay chose to lead the green path. eBay’s 245,000 square foot data center in Delta, Utah, is LEED Gold certified. It is 50% cheaper to operate and 30% more efficient than previous eBay facilities, partly due to the 400,000 gallon water cooling cistern that collects rainwater and keeps the facility cool for 7,000 hours without external power.
Another important mention is Project Mercury that eBay launched in partnership with Dell for free cooling of its data center in the Arizona desert. Servers were rolled out modularly to reduce PUE rating while the facility’s water-side economizer cooling worked 24/7 with chillers for backup, as temperatures soared above 115 degrees.
Irrespective of size and industry domain, all organizations can do their bit for the environment by following the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle. Use less paper, avoid non-biodegradable materials, and save power. The future is in our hands.
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