Data Center Energy Efficiency: 5 Steps to Maximize Sustainability and Reduce Costs

4 minutes reading
25/06/24

Today, Data Centers are the brains behind efficient and reliable business operations. However, with so much powerful hardware concentrated in one place, they must be continuously cooled and protected from environmental influences. As a result, they consume significant amounts of energy. Given this scenario, what can be done to improve the Data Center energy efficiency?

Some options include adjusting fan speeds, utilizing energy-efficient hardware, optimizing cooling systems, and, most importantly, prioritizing renewable energy sources. Such changes can collectively reduce the operation’s energy consumption, leading to significant savings.

Despite the enormous potential for efficiency gains, mitigating risks and obtaining specialized support before adopting the following tactics to reduce Data Center energy consumption is crucial. Without proper planning, high-density infrastructure can become hyperthermal in seconds.

Want to learn more about improving your Data Center’s energy efficiency? Read on:

What is Data Center Energy Efficiency?

Data Center energy efficiency is the practice of using less energy to perform the same tasks – that is, maintaining the full functionality of the infrastructure 24/7 to ensure the smooth operation of the business.

It involves optimizing the facility’s energy consumption and resource utilization to achieve maximum output with minimal energy input. Energy-efficient buildings spend less on heating, cooling, and operating equipment and facilities.

Data Centers are critical infrastructures that house servers, networking equipment, and storage systems to handle large amounts of data and provide digital services. However, their operation demands a high volume of energy, leading to significant consumption and associated costs.

Therefore, energy efficiency is essential for reducing Data Centers’ environmental impact and operational expenses while maintaining functionality and performance.

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Why is Data Center Energy Efficiency Important?

Energy efficiency is one of the most accessible and cost-effective ways to combat climate change, reduce energy consumption costs, improve business competitiveness, and contribute to a more sustainable IT sector and overall environment.

Therefore, it is a vital component for achieving ‘Net Zero’ carbon dioxide emissions—a concept related to balancing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere with the amount removed. The goal is to reach a level where human activities do not increase these gases in the atmosphere, mitigating climate change.

Various strategies must be implemented to prioritize Data Center energy efficiency. These can include using low-power hardware, optimizing cooling systems, adopting virtualization to improve server utilization, and integrating renewable energy sources.


READ MORE: Why Data Centers need renewable energy?


5 Steps to Maximize Sustainability and Reduce Costs

Data generation, traffic, and storage have grown as a result of incorporating intelligent agents in operations, such as machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence. According to Statista, by 2025, 181 zettabytes of data will be generated.

For this reason, according to Gartner, Inc., 75% of organizations will have implemented a Data Center infrastructure sustainability program by 2027, up from less than 5% in 2022, driven by the need for cost optimization and stakeholder pressures.

It is possible to adopt some best practices to maximize operational sustainability and reduce capital expenses related to energy consumption, among which the following five stand out:

#1: Conduct Energy Audits

  • Perform ongoing analysis processes and comprehensive energy audits to assess the structure’s energy consumption and identify inefficiencies;
  • Analyze the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) to measure the ratio between total input and energy used for computing activities;
  • Identify and prioritize high-energy consumption areas, such as inefficient cooling systems or underutilized servers, to implement targeted improvements.

#2: Optimize Cooling Systems

  • Implement hot and cold aisle containment to improve airflow management, reduce mixing, and enhance cooling efficiency;
  • Explore advanced cooling technologies like liquid or free cooling, which can significantly reduce energy consumption;
  • Temperature and humidity sensors can enable real-time energy expenditure monitoring, allowing dynamic adjustments to cooling systems based on actual needs.

#3: Prioritize Virtualization and Consolidation

  • Adopt virtualization technologies to consolidate multiple virtual machines onto a single physical server, optimizing resource utilization;
  • Decommission outdated and underutilized servers to reduce energy waste and simplify Data Center operations;
  • Use workload management tools to balance computing processes across servers, increasing efficiency and performance.

ALSO REED: Data Center infrastructure modernization: Crucial to support increased data traffic


#4: Prioritize Energy-Efficient Hardware

  • Select low-power hardware components, including low-power processors, solid-state drives (SSDs), and efficient power supplies;
  • Optimize power management settings for servers and IT equipment, enabling power-saving modes during low usage periods;
  • Promote an energy conservation culture through training and awareness programs, encouraging sustainable practices among Data Center staff.

#5: Embrace Renewable Energy

  • Integrate renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines, to supplement the building’s energy requirements with clean energy;
  • Engage in power purchase agreements (PPAs) to acquire renewable energy at competitive prices, gaining long-term sustainability benefits;
  • Explore partnerships with local utilities or renewable energy providers to support green initiatives;
  • Outsource operations to a specialized Data Center services provider that uses renewable energy sources to power its campuses. For instance, ODATA acquired a stake in the Assuruá IV wind farm in Bahia, becoming the first hyperscale provider in Latin America to have 100% of its buildings’ energy consumption from a renewable source.

By following these five steps, data infrastructure managers can undoubtedly improve their operation’s energy efficiency, reduce operating expenses, take significant steps toward sustainability, and align with environmentally conscious practices in the IT sector.


LEARN MORE: Revolutionizing data infrastructure: understand the role of energy self-production


Need help improving your data centre’s sustainability indicators and reducing operating costs?

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