Let me preface this post with the obvious, I am not an engineer. But, it would be fair to say I’m green. So, consider what follows information sharing, but definitely not analysis. Other than, “Hey, what Cork Internet Exchange did is cool”.
I’ve always wondered if there was a green opportunity in data centers. Instead of expending all that energy cooling down data centers, couldn’t the generated heat be redirected for good, such as heating the building? Maybe not the best idea in Florida, but certainly applicable here in the Northeastern US.
Now, not being an engineer, I wasn’t sure if this was a really good question, or a really dumb one. But, since I’m more interested in learning than being right, when people talk of Green IT, I ask my question. This morning, on Twitter, I asked it of James Governor (RedMonk, GreenMonk). In response, James sent a link to a post about Tom Raftery’s data center redesign at Cork Internet Exchange. An excerpt follows, is mine.
“What was the design decision that makes all the difference at Cork? Well you see a normal data center has hot aisles (backs of servers) and cold aisles (fronts of servers), but the data center has an average ambient temperature based on convection and flows of these air streams. Indeed most data centers are pretty much designed and run with the ambient temperature in mind. So what did Tom and team do? They put a cork in it. They sealed the cold aisles, which means that when you walk into the data center you’re hit with a blast of 30 degree celsius air. For humans the temperature is very high, but where it has to be cold, it is. Which is pretty smart if you ask me. Of course this idea would never fly in America where humans can only stand a very small ambient temperate range between 65 and 70 degrees F. But in Europe I can certainly see some organisations trying something similar. To be clear- the data center heat is also used to warm the offices and hot water at cix. Says Tom: “Our central heating is powered by Intel”. The crack about Americans and air-conditioning above is a little unfair- after all- Cork has the native advantage of not being as hot as California, or locations where many US data centers are located. But still- it surely makes sense to concentrate on cooling machines rather than people when you’re designing a data center.”
For readers who are engineers, check out the details here. Perhaps my brother (an engineer) will explain it to me!
So, I’m (continually) curious. Are other organizations redirecting generated data center energy? What other creative Green IT initiatives are folks undertaking? Are these initiatives adding environmental and business value? Or, do you feel greenwashed?