Cooling – The “Green” in Green IT

28 Nov

Green IT

‘…the study and practice of designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computers, servers, and associated subsystems (such as monitors, printers, storage devices, and networking and communications systems) efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment.’
S. Murugesan
Green IT is frequently explained thus, and though admirable, it is idealistic.

CGI get closer to the truth at the beginning of their paper “Emerging Trends in Green IT” citing corporate responsibility programs, public awareness of environmental issues, and positive environmental brand image. The energy and various other efficiencies that accompany sustainable IT business practices equates to a win-win opportunity.

Further along in the paper they hit the nail on the head in outlining several of the key issues fuelling the Green IT movement:

• Rising energy demand with a more limited supply and increasing utility costs

• Management of hazardous waste and electronic equipment disposal (e-waste)

• Increasing gasoline costs, which drive up employee commuting costs leading to retention issues

• Increasing real estate costs

• Rising airline ticket costs and travel complexities

Scenical, Yes. Clearly, the bottom line here is as long as Business and Green objectives can correspond the Green IT trend will prosper.

In response to these challenges, several areas/processes have come under scrutiny:

• Energy efficiency & Power consumption: One PC won’t melt much ice – but now that there are millions of them…

• Green procurement and asset management: Purchase more efficient systems, and make them last longer to minimise disposal costs.

• Technology-based solutions: Employing technology to reduce demand for travel, commuting, and real estate. Virtual offices are a good example.

• Cooling: Keeping IT systems cool is a major issue in terms of power consumption, reliability and therefore cost.

Although CGI do mention Data Center cooling strategies as central to cooling costs, they neglect to mention the exponential increases in data and the implications (as discussed in previous posts) of Big Data and Cloud in terms of storage, reliability, and therefore cooling.

Interestingly, they also outline the potential for leveraging local climate characteristics to the advantage of cooling strategy.

Cool Irish weather attracts Google, new data centre announced‘ (2011)

…Ireland had the least need for air conditioning (cooling) of any Country in the world. This cool climate has recently been very useful to enable Ireland to secure a substantial investment by Google.
“Ireland has the least need of cooling or air conditioning in the whole world, with only 19 degree days required, compared with 40 in Iceland and 43 in Norway.”

Google unveils €75m data hub (2012)

…It uses Ireland’s climate to cool its computers, has no air conditioning and is entirely carbon neutral. It could only be Google’s latest building in Dublin.

So, Ireland is a natural data warehouse. Add a highly educated IS savvy workforce – The future is bright!

S. Murugesan, “Making IT Green,” IT Professional, vol. 12, no. 2, 2010.


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