by Rogers Clawson
They say the truest form of democracy is capitalism. Every single time you buy something, you are in a way, casting a vote in support of that one item over any number of available competitor’s items and alternatives. Consumers have made their voices heard when it comes to “green” practices and products. Many consumers are even willing to pay a little more for a “green” product on everything from food, cars, and televisions. Being “green” has become very important to many companies images and has affected the way many of us do business including the types of data centers we choose to do business with.
Companies such as Interxion, Pacnet, QTS, and ViaWest are moving towards green data centers that use new greener technology and consume less energy. LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is an internationally recognized green building certification system intended to standardize and legitimize the practice of sustainable “Green” development. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000, LEED provides building owners and operators with a frame work for identifying and implementing practical and measurable “green” building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions that substantially reduce the building’s impact on the environment as compared to similar facilities. Some of the “green” features that these LEED certified Data centers have are:
Site and Transportation
LEED discourages the use of building on previously undeveloped land. LEED aims to minimize the impact on land and reducing the development footprint of the building while maximizing building functionality. LEED also encourages “green” transportation choices, like having easy access to public transportation.
Materials and Resources
Reduce waste by recycling materials during and after construction, and using building materials from regional, recycled and sustainable-certified sources.
Renewable energy & optimized energy performance
Using renewable energy sources such as implementing free cooling options and natural light in order to reduce electric light demand and reduce the buildings carbon footprint and environmental impact are taken into consideration for the LEED certification. Of course renewable energy options like solar and/or wind power are taken into account. In addition to other practices, maximizing energy performance such as occupant sensing lighting control and using energy efficient lights like CFL’s (compact florescent light) and LED’s (light emitting diode) increase a facilities energy efficiency.
Minimum water usage
Water efficiency is achieved through smarter use of water inside and outside the building; such as collecting rainfall through a retention pond located on the building’s roof, or using porous asphalt in the parking lot in order to replenish the local ground water supply. In addition, some of the practices to reduce water usage inside the buildings are using high-efficiency fixtures that minimize water consumption in sinks, lavatories, and showers.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you see a company tout a LEED certification so you are not mis-led. It is important to note that there is no specific LEED certification for data centers. LEED certification does not take anything like PUE or data center operations energy efficiency into account. You should keep an eye out for the SSAE-16 and Uptime institute Tier ratings when it comes to the data center operations. There is a decent pay back for a company who builds a LEED certified data center (some studies estimate a 2-4 year ROI), but there is no guarantee that this will mean a more energy efficient or less expensive energy cost for companies leasing space in one of these data centers. The LEED certification is more of a statement that a company is committed to environmental responsibility, being “green”, and can be important to a companies’ culture and image.
Please join the conversation and let us know why you think LEED is important to the future of the data center industry.
By Chris Palermo
When considering a colocation provider, there are a number of metrics that need to be evaluated. One metric that may be overlooked is the PUE, or Power Usage Effectiveness. Simply put, the PUE is a metric that quantifies the power efficiency of the overall data center operation and is expressed as a ration between the power entering the data center over what the IT assets actually consume. According to the Uptime Institute, an enterprise data center industry group, the average data center PUE is 1.8.
In a typical data center, there is a significant amount of support equipment needed to provide the servers (and technicians that physically maintain them) with a suitable operating environment. This support equipment includes lighting, CRAC (computer room air conditioners), UPS (un-interruptible power supplies, chillers, cooling towers, security systems, and other systems designed to provide an environment conducive to server up-time and reliability. It is the efficient operation of this equipment that the PUE metric is concerned with and is a direct reflection on the overall efficiency of the operation.
There are several very good reasons to be concerned about PUE. First, there is the bottom line. A lower cost of operation could easily translate into a lower colocation expense. Every dollar of electricity saved by the colocation provider can be re-invested in the operation to make it more reliable, more efficient, or both - for you, the client. It can also serve as a hedge against rising energy prices which, in a less efficient center, would likely be passed on to the client.
Second, government regulatory agencies, environmental management systems such as ISO 14001, and the Global Reporting Initiative are increasingly requiring organizations to report their carbon footprint. A colocation organization is considered a supplier to another firm and a part of the client firm's company footprint. Thus, the vendor's consumption of resources is attributed to their client's as well. When considering your company's environmental impact, your vendors matter. Obviously, from this perspective, it makes sense to choose vendors who demonstrate and practice world-class performance. The PUE is a good metric to help colocation clients make an informed decision.
Third, there is sustainability. There is a growing interest in sustainability in the business community and a growing demand from consumers for products and services that are considered "green". Smart business owners recognize an opportunity to carve out a niche that differentiates themselves from their competition. Choosing vendors that use energy and other resources in a responsible way can translate into into increased profits through lower costs and increased consumer loyalty and goodwill.
There are many different factors to consider when choosing a colocation provider. A colocation provider with a world-class PUE has demonstrated a forward-thinking approach to future-proofing their business against rising energy prices, regulatory issues, and social responsibility. Such a provider may not have the lowest price, but will ensure that your IT assets continue to operate securely and efficiently - making you money.
Global Communication Networks has sourced, negotiated and project managed colocation and telecommunications projects all over the world. Should you have questions or need assistance on your next project please do not hesitate to contact me here, or via twitter at @SChrisPalermo.