What is data center sustainability?

Data center sustainability has become a clear trend for data center companies seeking to lower their carbon emissions.

Sustainability has been a common trend for organizations — not just for data centers, but in general. It seems like every business is understanding what the onset of climate change is and how to best mitigate the impact that their organization has on the environment. But what does data center sustainability mean and how does it help?

There are many ancillary benefits from concentrating hard on data center sustainability including having lasting impact on the environment. That’s exactly why we pledged last year to set a portfolio-wide carbon emissions target to meet the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement ten years early.

Here’s how Sabey Data Centers approaches sustainability.

Sabey’s data center sustainability starts with our energy source: hydroelectricity

The obvious question that most individuals ask is, “where do your sustainability efforts begin; where does your energy come from?” Because Sabey was founded in the Pacific Northwest, hydroelectricity was the earliest and most straightforward solution. It was also a fiscally sustainable way to fulfill our energy needs and those of our tenants because Sabey’s data center campuses in Washington State are powered by the lowest-cost hydroelectricity in the country. This affordable, green energy carries over to tenants in the form of a low total cost of ownership (TCO) for tenants — which is great news for them.

Just as crucially, the clean source of power boosts the data center facility’s sustainability before efficiency even enters the equation. When you start from a good place, additional sustainability measures make an even greater impact throughout the rest of your organization.

Power Usage Effectiveness ratings help us measure our data center sustainability

A Power Usage Effectiveness rating (PUE) helps us calculate how much energy we can conserve by using as little as possible for non-IT functions. That can include things like cooling, lights, etc. To calculate our PUE, we divide the total amount of electricity entering our facility by the amount that is actually powering our IT load. If the only power used by a data center was used to power the servers themselves, the PUE would be 1 (1:1). Our PUEs are consistently among the lowest in the industry; many of our efficient colocation data centers have average annual PUEs that hover just above 1.1. That’s impactful on its own.

More efficient cooling methods for data center sustainability

Cooling represents a challenge for any colocation data center that wants to place an emphasis on sustainability. One technique we use to manage our energy use for this task is to utilize hot-aisle containment, which consists of rows of cabinets that are positioned back-to-back and separated by a “hot aisle.” The exhaust from the rear of the servers is expelled into that aisle where it rises overhead and is passively redirected into air handlers. Those air handlers reject heat and discharge conditioned air back into the cool aisle for the servers to intake.

We’ve put a lot of thought into engineering the greenest way possible for us to cool IT equipment while exceeding our data center sustainability goals. Indirect evaporative cooling, for example, is used instead of mechanical cooling for many of our facilities. 

Colocation offers a better chance for your business to go green too

You are helping your business go green just by virtue of finding a colocation partner that focuses on data center sustainability. As we’ve already mentioned, we use green technology like hydroelectric power to minimize our footprint — but the colocation aspect of our business means that we take responsibility for operating our infrastructure sustainably so you can focus on your mission while enjoying sustainable, low-cost power, and the knowledge that your data center is doing everything it can to minimize the human contribution to climate change.

Would you like to know more about our sustainability efforts and how they can co-exist with your data center colocation needs?

Schedule a tour today to see our facilities in person or contact an expert to learn more.

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