Harry Stevens is a freelance reporter covering climate change, corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, and sustainable finance. Harry has contributed to several media outlets, including Justmeans, GreenBiz, SocialEarth, and Sustainablog. You can follow Harry on Twitter: @Harry_Stevens...
UN Announces New Methodology for Sustainable Data Centers as Bandwidth Demand Increases
A new methodology from the United Nations Framework Convention to Combat Climate Change (UNFCCC) will help data centers realize potential energy savings and carbon reduction.
The methodology aims to help data centers implement "Dynamic Power Management" (DPM), an energy management activity that optimizes the load and electricity consumption of servers by activating "turn off events." Employing DPM can help data centers transition from an "Always On" model, where the servers consume electricity all day long regardless of demand, to and "Always Available" model, where only the amount of equipment needed to support demand runs.
The methodology, assigned the unmarketable designation AM0105: "Energy efficiency in data centres through dynamic power management," could be especially useful in developing countries, where carbon emission reduction credits can be exchanged and sold to buyers in industrialized countries that have reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. The trading of such emission credits, which takes place under Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism, constitutes a growing market that is already valued in the billions of dollars.
While brand equity can be a compelling reason to pursue data center sustainability for consumer-facing market leaders like Google, Facebook, and eBay, financial incentives can be much more persuasive to upstream supply companies in the developing world.
As internet access and smart phone penetration increase in the developing world, so does the demand for data centers. According to the 2011 Garnet Data Center Market Study, the number of data centers of all sizes is growing rapidly in developing countries relative to the rest of the world.
Data centers used 1.3% of the world's energy in 2011, and usage is expected to increase 19% from 2011 to 2012. The data center market should experience the most pronounced growth in Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, China, and Mexico, according to Data Center Dynamics.
Bandwidth demand is increasing across all industries, but this increase may be particularly notable in the healthcare world. As healthcare providers continue to migrate their reams of data from paper to digital formats, more data centers are needed to provide servers for the additional digital information.
"The healthcare world is truly exploding in terms of data migration and getting their mountains of imaging, patient data, etc. into the digital space," said Shawn Mills, President of Green House Data, a cloud hosting, collocation and disaster recovery provider that is powered entirely by renewable wind energy and operates 40% more energy efficiently than traditional data centers.
The UNFFC methodology is based on baseline measurements for IT equipment developed by Carbonomics, LLC, and Power Assure, Inc. To support the new methodology, Carbonomics and Power Assure will be setting up a program to enable data centers to implement Dynamic Power Management to generate carbon credits and monetize their operations.
Brad Wurtz, Power Assure's CEO, was eager to emphasize the significance of the methodology. "This is a 'first to market' solution in what is becoming a huge market: increasing the efficiency and lowering the power cost and associated carbon usage of the rapidly expanding growth of data centers across the globe," said Wurtz.
Image credit: Sean Ellis