Waste Heat From Data Center to Warm a Conservatory

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Just as data farms need to have that warmth removed, day in/day out, greenhouses, by contrast, need a supply of consistent warmth, summer and winter.

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Put the two together and you have a marriage made in heaven. For example; between the Ella Morris and Muessel-Ellison Botanical Conservatories and Potawatomi Greenhouse and Indiana’s University of Notre Dame.

Computer servers create a lot of warmth — so much so that keeping them cooled to 70 degrees is a major expense for data centers. Even caves are being considered to keep servers cool.

But actually, there is a market for waste heat. Why shouldn’t data centers earn a little extra on the side warming up a place that needs warmth? A greenhouse or a conservatory for example.

The University will house its computer servers in a standard shipping container next to a conservatory for cacti and other desert plants and will funnel the heated air through the conservatory so the waste heat warms the desert plants. Indiana has cold snowy winters, and the state relies on electricity from coal. Warming the desert plants with waste heat from the data center reduces greenhouse gases.

The partnership will save both organizations money. The University of Notre Dame will reduce their $100,000 in data cooling costs. And the city will save the $70,000 it used to spend to warm the conservatory.

Heating costs had been scrapped entirely from the city’s 2010 budget, so this idea will be a lifeline for the conservatory. The project might be able to save it from shutting down for good.

Image: Flikr user normalityrelief

Source: Data Center News


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