Building a Greener Data Center Makes Good Business Sense

Going green is not just good the environment, it's smart business.

When it comes to running a Data Center, what are your biggest costs? Chances are, it’s heating and cooling and keeping the lights on. Since you aren’t likely to start running your own electricity generating plant, there are many steps you can take to control the cost of heating and cooling your data center — and if it saves you money why wouldn’t you do it?

I’ve often said companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo! are exploring green technologies to run their massive data centers, not so much because they care about the environment — although they might — but because it saves money and running those data centers is a significant part of the cost of doing business for these companies.

You may think your data center is too small to consider some of these techniques, but like an individual homeowner throwing some solar panels on the roof, there are steps even smaller companies can take make their data centers greener.

In fact, a recent ZDNet article looked at an Albany, NY company that is generating 75 percent of the electricity it needs to run its 1.5 MW data center using solar panels it installed on the roof of the data center building. Apple recently announced that solar panels will account for 60 percent of the Maiden, North Carolina data center’s power requirements and the new data center under construction in Prineville, Oregon will run on 100 percent renewable sources when it’s done.

The ZDNET article goes into other techniques as well including buying an older building, which on its face might not sound like an efficient way to heat and cool, it is as the author pointed out, resusing is ultimately very green, and you can design the interior of the building to work for your purposes.

If you analyze the biggest costs of your data centers, it’s probably not the hardware itself or the personnel. It’s the energy and you can look for ways to attack that. Even if a solar array on the roof will be a significant investment, it is one that will likely pay for itself in tangible and less tangible ways.

For starters, the more energy you generate with those solar panels, the less you are paying to the energy company, but you could also benefit from tax breaks for businesses the government is offering to encourage businesses to use cleaner energy sources.

But you also look forward-thinking when you go green. Those solar panels on the roof tell the world, you’re a hip and caring company (even if you’re doing it to please the shareholders more than the environmentalists).

But the real reason you should do it is because by using fewer fossil fuels you’re doing right by your planet and without that, there’s not going to be a business.

Whatever your reasons for taking a step towards making your company greener, you should just do it. Most will consider practical business reasons over egalitarian ones, but the end result is the same. Lower costs for you and a cleaner environment for all.

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