Carbon offsets have their place in the scheme of reducing carbon footprints of energy intensive businesses. But they shouldn't be used instead of actual reduction of carbon emissions, especially when it comes to data centers that need to be made radically more energy efficient. Yahoo! seems to agree, or so their latest move in the race to to create the greenest data center run on renewable energy would imply. The company is working to build a super efficient data center, run on power generated by Niagara Falls along with other green bells and whistles, such that carbon offsets won't be part of the plan. Yahoo! has announced that Lockport, New York will be the home to Yahoo!'s latest data center. The highlights include:
* Powered predominantly by renewable hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls
* 90% of the energy going to the data center will power the servers (most data centers use 50% or less of their total electricity consumption on servers, with the rest going to the facility for things like cooling; Yahoo! will be using 100% outside air to cool the servers)
* A goal of Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.1 or better (1.1 would top the best ratings we've seen so far, with Google and Microsoft battling for best PUEs and achieving around 1.12 and 1.22 respectively, while the industry average is at 2. A PUE of 1 is the best a data center can achieve).
* Committing to reduce the carbon intensity of data centers by at least 40% by 2014, which means no longer purchase carbon offsets as announced in 2007 and instead focusing resources on reducing our carbon impact in the first place
Yahoo! and fellow companies running data centers in Quincy, Washington are already getting help with greening their operations thanks to plans to create recycled water infrastructure to reduce how much water the data centers consume. On top of that, their Washington data center is run primarily on wind power.
The race for the greenest data center - such as we're seeing with Google and its forward thinking plans for data center locations and power sources, Microsoft and its open-sourced approach to data center best practices, IBM and its drive to halve the energy consumption of its data center at Syracuse, and more projects - is highly encouraging considering the massive carbon footprint and increasing energy consumption of these hubs for our tech-obsessed world.
We're going to be relying more and more on data centers as we virtualize more of our data and get comfortable with cloud computing, so the tools to keep the impact from increasing are of utmost importance.
Carbon offsets are certainly not the route to go when it comes to trying to achieve carbon neutrality - greening up operations so that carbon offsets aren't necessary is what we really want to see. Yahoo!'s approach is following that path, and we're hoping that they'll set the bar just that much higher for data centers.
Follow Jaymi on Twitter: @JaymiHeimbuch
More on Greening Data Centers
PG&E; Gives a $1.4 Million Rebate for Green Data Center
Intel Challenges Data Center Pros for Efficiency Ideas
The Green Grid Gets Specific With New Datacenter Energy Efficiency Guidelines