Early Green Data Centers

The industry has been striving to green data centers for some time. Here are some of pioneers from 2002 through 2009.

California-based AISO has been solar-powered since 2002. Over the years, it has added free air cooling, rainwater collection, and other innovations. "Our rainwater collection system eliminates the need for city water by using rainwater collected off our building. This allows 100% of our water usage to come from mother nature. Water collection specs: first flush system to remove water contaminants during first rain, storage for over 10,000 gallons of water, green roof & air conditioning system drain water is reclaimed for reuse".

Fannie Mae's Urban Technology Center (UTC), commissioned in 2005, was the first data center with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. GreenBiz.com reports energy savings during the first five years of $1.7 million.

Citi's data center in Frankfort won Datacenter Dynamics first (2007) Green Datacenter Award. In 2009, it became first data center to achieve LEED Platinum certification, using only 30% of the power of a conventional one. This may not seem impressive by the efficiencies of contemporary mega data centers, but today's facilities owe their achievements to the work of the pioneers. Citi also has LEED certified data centers in Singapore and in Georgetown (TX).

EDS's UK facility won Datacenter Dynamics 2008 Green Datacenter Award. It pioneered the combination of of favorable facility location with free air cooling. "Recognising that cooling was the most significant opportunity for energy saving and that the mean ambient temperature in the North East of England was low, the team decided to use the cool northern air to directly cool the IT equipment and plantrooms. This approach is expected to provide an annual energy saving of about 40% compared to a typical datacentre design."

The 2009 Green Data Center award winner, Custodian Data Center, also invested in free air cooling. "Custodian’s normal operating mode for 95% of the year is run entirely from a free cooling source. Fresh air is drawn from outside which negates the need for mechanical cooling, this is both efficient and environmentally friendly. When the outside ambient temperature is below 21 ° the system runs entirely on fresh air and the chillers and circulating pumps turn off. The air is filtered to clean room standards as it enters the building to ensure that there is no contamination and humidity is controlled via the return air mixing control systems. As the temperature rises above 21 ° the chillers are brought on-line, but only to reduce the incoming air by the required amount."

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Images courtesy of the respective facilities