Microsoft Shares Best Practices for Green Data Centers


Rob Bernard addressing best practices for data centers at The Green Grid's forum.

The keynote speech at The Green Grid's 2nd Annual Technical Forum was made by Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist for Microsoft. His speech highlighted two important pieces of the energy efficiency pie. First, that fighting global warming is a team sport, which means companies running data centers may be in competition on a market level, but have to work together on an environmental level if anything is to be accomplished.

That requirement lead Bernard to talk about the second big slice - best practices for creating and running efficient data centers. Bernard touched on several things Microsoft is doing to reduce its carbon footprint, including using shipping containers as data center facilities.According to Bernard, the data center industry is responsible for 880 million tons of CO2 emissions annually. That means there's a significant amount of work that can be done immediately to cut down on that footprint.

"We don't have much time as an industry or a society to start changing the way we do things," he said.

Bernard noted that we must look at data centers hollistically - there is more to efficiency than a better cooling system. Managers need to look at the interconnectivity of weather, facilities, hardware, software, employee habits, commuting, and so on. Additionally, transparency and sharing ideas among industry members is also key.

Christian Belady writes on the Microsoft Data Center blog:
We feel it’s important for us to openly share information and best practices around energy efficiency because we believe the data center industry as a whole needs to work together in order to make the dramatic gains needed to make a difference for our companies and the planet. We invite other data center teams to explore our best practices and approaches, enhance them with your own, and apply them in your situation as you see fit.

Some of the innovative things Microsoft has been doing is revolutionizing how data centers are housed. The company has been experimenting with housing data centers in shipping containers, and is looking into using fresh air to cool them so cooling systems can be reduced or eliminated. Also, this cuts down on the need to build large facilities - cutting the carbon footprint way back.

Beyond data centers, Microsoft has opened its ear to employees who have ideas for cutting back on emissions, from implementing carpooling and telecommuting to eliminating Styrofoam coffee cups.

Looking at the interconnectivity of a data center, its systems, and the people who run them and viewing it as an ecosystem is the way to be truly effective at becoming efficient.

Now, we just have to see managers of data centers actually implement these ideas and cut down on that 880 million tons of emissions emitted each year.

More on the Green Grid
The Green Grid Gets Specific With New Data Center Energy Efficiency Guidelines
Data Center Equipment Getting "Miles-Per-Gallon" Measurement Standard

Tags: Carbon Footprint | Corporate Responsibility | Energy Efficiency

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