Published on November 4th, 2016 | by Aisha Abdelhamid0
Green Data Centers Save More Than Money
November 4th, 2016 by Aisha Abdelhamid
Savvy business owners are lately implementing clever energy efficiency measures, turning their data systems into clean, green data centers. As they are discovering, finely tuned, green data centers are saving them much more than just money. [Disclosure: this article has been sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
As businesses grow, continued success often hangs in the balance between preventing avoidable losses and identifying competitive advantages. For some businesses, serving the planet doesn’t always rank as highly as serving customers, but environmental sustainability is an issue gaining great attention with both business owners and their customers.
By turning attention to increasing the energy efficiency of its data systems, many companies are finding excellent cost-saving solutions. But there’s more to the story than just increasing revenue. Green data centers also increase a company’s resiliency while decreasing its carbon footprint. Its reputation rises in the market as customers appreciate a company’s respect for environmental sustainability. All of these factors can significantly add to a company’s competitive advantage.
Today’s Businesses Rise or Fall on Data Center Reliability
Keeping data systems up and running is key to meeting today’s business demands. When data systems go down, businesses suffer significant losses of time, money, and customers.
The January 2016 Emerson Network Power Study reports, “unplanned data center outages cost companies nearly $9,000 per minute.”
The Emerson study found that the average cost of a data center outage rose 38% between 2010 and the beginning of 2016. In 2010, the average cost of a data center outage was $505,502, rising to $740,357 in this latest study. Maximum downtime costs are rising even faster than the average. Since 2010, maximum downtime costs increased 81% to a high in 2015 of $2,409,991.
In 2016 alone, several high-profile outages have highlighted the critical need to find cost-effective, sustainable solutions to improve data center reliability across the global spectrum of governmental and commercial operations:
- May 2016: The Department of Motor Vehicles in Virginia suffered a severe data center outage resulting in 60 state agencies losing access to their IT systems.
- July 2016: The US National Science Foundation experienced a capacitor explosion that knocked the agency’s data center and network operations offline for nearly 24 hours.
- August 2016: Over 2,100 Delta Airlines flights worldwide were cancelled after an electrical component failed in an Atlanta, Georgia data center. The outage crippled operations and ultimately resulted in a loss of $150 million.
- August 2016: The SSP Group, serving about 40% of all insurance brokers worldwide, suffered a 2-week power outage and had to migrate all of its customers to two new data centers. The even resulted in the total loss of its Solihull data center facility, a catastrophically expensive outage.
Transitioning to Resilient Green Data Centers Through Strong Partnerships
Clearly, when data centers go down, costs go up. Transforming business operations to tackle data reliability issues is clearly mandated by economic urgency. Applying the foresight and business savvy to synchronize this transformation with an environmentally friendly transition to renewable energy and clean technologies is clearly ingenious.
It’s not surprising, then, to learn that 1 in 3 Fortune 100 companies has participated in the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps program to implement smart energy management strategies while transitioning to a cost-effective, energy-efficient green data center.
Headquartered in New York, EDF has offices all over the globe. Called “America’s most economically literate green campaigners” by The Economist, EDF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that believes “prosperity and environmental stewardship must go hand in hand.”
“We’re optimists,” states EDF, “because we have seen our ideas make a huge difference. And we build strong partnerships across interests to ensure lasting success.”
With over 1.5 million members and a staff of 500 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals from all around the world, strong partnerships are evident within the ranks of EDF, one of the world’s largest environmental organizations.
Through the EDF Climate Corps program, strong partnerships are formed and innovative solutions are forged, balancing the business needs of always-on data systems with environmentally sensitive strategies for achieving greater energy efficiency.
The net result, smart CEO’s are discovering, is that green data centers are not only more sustainable, they are also more resilient.
Embedding Handpicked EDF Climate Corps Fellows into Leading Companies
EDF handpicks highly trained grad students in business and engineering from top universities for its Climate Corps program. EDF embeds these Climate Corps fellows into data-focused corporations, organizations, and governmental agencies. These young people bring technical expertise and innovative problem-solving skills to help find the intersections where a company’s financial benefits and environmental impacts meet.
Once embedded into an organization, an EDF Climate Corps fellow leverages advanced technologies, financially viable renewable energy options and cutting-edge ideas to streamline the firm’s data operations and cut costs. Environmental sustainability and energy efficiency become integral components of the organization’s business strategy.
EDF Climate Corps fellows have already identified over $1.5 billion in energy savings while embedded with business partners. Some of the best strategies for making always-on data systems more sustainable have been initiated by fellows working with EDF’s 350 Climate Corps partners such as Comcast, Yahoo, Caesars, and Verizon.
Facilitating the Transition to Green Data Centers
Facilitating the transition to green data centers requires identifying a broad range of strategies. Diversifying a firm’s energy supply is a significant first step. Critical operations, if they are powered by renewable sources such as solar or wind energy, can continue running even if the electricity grid fails. Adding an energy storage component will further compliment green data center operations.
By upgrading backup power generators to renewable energy sources, companies eliminate emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. This also eliminates the need to refuel and maintain fossil-fuel based machinery and helps reduce overall energy costs.
Reducing the amount of power needed to operate server farms and data centers is also a key component of transitioning to a green data center. By consolidating servers, for example, not only does energy consumption drop, but related costs to cool the servers also decline. Retrofitting data centers with newer, more energy-efficient equipment also helps reduce power consumption and costs.
Several other important strategies that EDF Climate Corps fellows identified for decreasing energy consumption included cooling efficiency upgrades and installing smart control systems.
For example, partnered with Verizon, EDF Climate Corps fellow Louis Li recommended switching to variable-speed drives on cooling tower fans, upgrading the chiller to one that uses heat from wasted fuel cells to provide free cooling, improving heat exchange efficiency with a new chiller chemical treatment, and installing a smart control system to optimize the performance of the chiller, pump, and cooling tower.
EDF estimates that Li’s recommendations, upon implementation, would save Verizon $450,000 in net operating costs every year, due to an energy reduction of 3.3 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). Verizon would also offset 1,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.
Offering financial rewards with lowered operational risks, transitioning to a green data center helps build “a stronger, leaner, more resilient company that profits over the long haul.” EDF notes that its Climate Corps program facilitates this result, as well as helping companies set and achieve significant energy goals.
It’s also a great chance, EDF adds, “to test drive top talent before your competition does.”
Ready for the EDF Green Data Centers Quiz?
Think you can identify the latest green data center trends? Check what you know about the trends toward more resilient, energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable green data centers.
Here’s a great teaser question:
Q: U.S. data centers consumed 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2014. What’s the expected consumption by 2020?
A: • 7.3 billion
B: • 73 billion
C: • 7.3 trillion
Take EDF’s Green Data Centers Quiz to find out if you’re right!
This article has been sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
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