5 Ways Data Centre Providers Are Making Their Facilities More Sustainable

Data centres enable our modern, connected lives by providing the computing power and storage necessary for the smooth functioning of the internet and digital services. But their environmental impact is increasingly a cause for concern — their heavy reliance on power means they’re responsible for 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

As global electricity consumption and carbon emissions grow, the industry is taking steps to become more sustainable.

Here are five ways data centre providers are making their facilities greener and more efficient:

1. Embracing renewables

One of the main contributors to data centre carbon emissions is the reliance on fossil fuels to power their operations. To combat this issue, data centre providers are adopting renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower. By harnessing these clean, inexhaustible sources, data centres can significantly reduce their environmental footprint.

Google, for example, has committed to using 100% renewable energy for its data centres and aims to achieve 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030. Similarly, Microsoft is working towards powering all its data centres with renewable energy by 2025.

2. Implementing energy-efficient cooling systems

Cooling systems are essential for maintaining the optimal temperature in data centres, but traditional methods can be energy-intensive and consume large volumes of water. To improve sustainability, data centre providers are adopting innovative cooling solutions that use less energy and water.

One such technique is free cooling, which takes advantage of outside air or water to cool the data centre, reducing the need for mechanical cooling systems. Another approach is liquid cooling, where servers are submerged in non-conductive liquids that absorb and dissipate heat more efficiently than air. Liquid cooling not only reduces energy consumption but also allows for higher-density racks, maximising computing power in smaller spaces.

3. Adopting prefabricated, modular designs

Prefabricated, modular data centre designs are becoming the new standard as they offer greater flexibility, scalability, and efficiency. These standardised designs reduce construction time and materials, leading to lower environmental impact and faster deployment.

By using modular components, data centre providers can easily expand or reconfigure their facilities to meet changing demands without significant disruptions. This approach enables more efficient use of resources and helps data centres adapt to the evolving needs of the digital world.

4. Transitioning to alternative backup power solutions

Back-up diesel generators have long been a necessary part of data centre operations. Recognising the environmental concerns associated with traditional diesel generators, companies such as Kohler Power Systems, a Hodgson Acoustics partner, have been investing in research and development to create more sustainable and less polluting technologies.

Kohler has adopted the use of HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) fuels, a renewable, bio-based diesel alternative that generates fewer CO2, NOx, and particulate emissions. HVO is derived from waste products like used cooking oil, making it a more sustainable option.

Data centre providers are also exploring alternative backup power solutions, such as hydrogen fuel cells, for more sustainable operations. By combining cleaner diesel technologies with alternative power solutions, the industry is creating a greener data centre landscape.

5. Investing in smart infrastructure and AI-driven management systems

To further improve efficiency and sustainability, data centre providers are splashing out on smart infrastructure and AI-driven management systems. These technologies enable facility operators to optimise resource usage, detect issues before they become critical, and predict future needs based on historical data and patterns. Additionally, smart sensors and IoT devices can provide granular data on temperature, humidity, and airflow, allowing for more precise and effective control.

These smart infrastructure and AI-driven systems also allow data centre operators to improve their facility’s energy efficiency through better capacity planning, more efficient equipment scheduling, and predictive maintenance. This helps reduce operational costs while at the same time boosting sustainability.

Summary: why sustainability in the data centre sector is so important

At Wiltech Acoustics, we provide noise control and environmental protection for the data centre sector and fully understand the importance of these moves towards sustainability. As the industry adopts greener practices and innovative technologies, data centre providers not only minimise their environmental impact but also ensure long-term cost savings, proving that sustainable strategies are essential for future success in the digital world.

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