Ever since we opened the first carbon-neutral data center in the Netherlands, we have seen data center sustainability in data center design and operation as the key to long-term competitiveness, not just for us but for our clients. And there has been excellent progress, but there is still a long way to go. To encourage improvements and stimulate new thinking we have just published two new white papers on the subject in the EvoSwitch knowledge center. If you are involved in data infrastructure design or management, or if you are interested in new directions for sustainability programs, I suggest you read them both.

Eric Lisica, Operations Director, EvoSwitch

Do more, do it better

The first paper, Data Center Sustainability: The Next Dimension, looks at the bigger picture. It reviews where we are succeeding, where we have yet to succeed, and areas where little effort has yet been made. In recent years, the data center industry has made progress in enhancing energy efficiency and in adopting renewable power sources, and there are many new solutions in development. But there are still major challenges; improvements are in new builds, because legacy data centers are hard to upgrade; PUE, while useful, has intrinsic flaws as used by the industry today; and renewables are great, but not all renewables are equal.

Tackle embodied impact

Research into embodied impact has driven the development of the second white paper, which opens up new territory for the sector.  Based on a Master’s Thesis by Caspar van Hoorn of Utrecht University, which was conducted with EvoSwitch support, Reuse & Recycling of Servers: Next Steps Towards Sustainability argues that improvements can be made in the current server reuse and recycling model which would deliver commercial and environmental benefits. The main areas for action are improved life cycle analysis and specification development at procurement, reduced shredding and increased dismantling/reuse at the end of first owner use, and a new trackable reuse business model which keeps valuable materials and components in the region. It is early days for this topic, but we hope that the Amsterdam Region will provide a fertile environment for discussion and systemic improvement.

There is also amore that data center operators should be doing. They should offer proactive advice on power consumption at the data floor level. They should push for more transparent universal standards which make it easier for customers to make informed choices. And they can need to take a more active role in tackling embodied impact.

Read the White Papers

If you’d like to receive complimentary copies of the two white papers: Data Center Sustainability: The Next Dimension, and Reuse & Recycling of Servers: Next Steps Towards Sustainability, you can download them individually clicking the buttons underneath the page.

Eric Lisica has 15 years’ experience of operations management in the hosting, data center and telecommunications fields, and has held positions with PSINet, Interoute and Verizon Terremark. View full bio