I was just reading about the top 10 list of largest data centers. What jumped out at me was not how huge these data centers are, but that the largest, 350 East Cermak, is a repurposed building originally built in 1912!
I don’t care how green your data center supposedly is, if you waste the tremendous amount of embodied carbon available in these buildings just to build a shiny new data center, your green cred doesn’t amount to much. Kudos to DRT!
(Note: SwiftWater Telecom’s primary data center occupies floor space in an rehabbed 1860’s former textile mill!)
Email or call me or visit the SwiftWater Telecom web site for truly green co-location services!
First up today is ponderings about whether it would be better to reuse existing suitable buildings for data centers rather than keep duplicating buildings just for the sake of being new. I’ve written quite a bit here on the blog about going as green as possible by taking advantage of the embodied carbon in existing buildings (millions of square feet of former mill space here in the East) and the unique features of many of these buildings that make them a great choice for data center use (incredibly strong, huge amounts of power, ideal for free air cooling). You want to be really green, use what’s here already rather cut down a forest to build yet another building.
Next up is the story about Google not claiming the tax incentives for its South Carolina data centers. Just another example of throwing gifts at huge corporations who don’t need them only to get nothing out of it. I know I don’t have the celebrity status of Google, but I guarantee I could create a pile of good data center jobs for the local community with just fraction of the Google goodie bags (hey Maine politicians and economic development folks, you listening?).
Email or call me or visit the SwiftWater Telecom web site for cloud computing services and green data center services.
Tonight I’ve been reading about data center dilemmas. I’m going to expand on some of the data center issues raised in the article.
First is the idea of upgrading data center facilities. Upgrading is never a bad idea (it’s always nice to plan ahead to avoid upgrading all the time, of course) but upgrading an not stripping out the obsolete is ridiculous. Abandoned facilities lead to confusion, potentially costly mistakes, and wasted time and money. Also, buildups of abandoned facilities under raised floors waste space, interfere with air flow, and can create serious hazards. Abandoned equipment is also frequently left powered, resulting in zombie gear that wastes power and that’s far from green. If it’s too much trouble to remove old facilities from raised floor, then it’s time to seriously consider dumping the raised floor.
Even though servers generally tend to have a fairly short lifespan, the critical thing is to make the rest of the infrastructure that supports those servers last as long as possible. Green systems, in addition to the energy saving financial benefits, also lends themselves to this. Free air cooling systems have a minimum of moving components and are easy to expand or modify. Green DC power plants and distribution networks are easy to expand and accomodate alternative local power generation sources.
I’ve talked in previous posts about embodied carbon, that physical equipment represents all of the carbon release that went into the manufacture and distribution of it. Equipping data center infrastructure to give it the most flexibility for the longest life is a great way to offset that embodied carbon.
Upgrading network equipment to get maximum capability from existing cable plant is also another no brainer, both from not wasting the embodied carbon in the physical facility, but also by making the network easier to manage (bigger pipes=fewer pipes) and less equipment, saving power.
It doesn’t look like much of a dilemma to me at all.
Vern, SwiftWater Telecom
Just when you thought things couldn’t get more complicated, I read about embodied carbon in the data center. If your head doesn’t hurt yet, it will.
The idea of embodied carbon is that the carbon footprint of the data center consists of not only the carbon produced in the operation of it but all the carbon involved in the production and transportation of the equipment as well. Got any idea of how much carbon is embodied in a cabinet? How about a section of steel cable rack vs a section of aluminum cable rack?
It gets even more complicated. Take into account the life span of whatever the item is, combined with the amount of effort required to recycle it.
I can also see this getting into some crazy tradeoffs. Does the energy saving gained by use of copper wire offset the carbon embodied in the wire itself?
I think you could get nuts with this, spending such a large amount of time accounting and balancing every single thing that you’d never get anything accomplished. Don’t let the complexity of things like this keep you from getting anything done. Make the best green choices possible for the big things and then worry about the minutae later.
Vern, SwiftWater Telecom