Data Center "X" just announced a 2 MegaWatt expansion to their facility in Northern California. A major increase in data center capacity, and a source of great joy for the company. And the source of potentially 714 additional tons of carbon introduced each month into the environment.
Many groups and organizations are gathering to address the need to bring our data centers under control. Some are focused on providing marketing value for their members, most others appear genuinely concerned with the amount of power being consumed within data centers, the amount of carbon being produced by data centers, and the potential for using alternative or clean energy initiatives within data centers. There are stories around which claim the data center industry is actually using up to 5% of power consumed within the United States, which if true, makes this a really important discussion.
If you do a "Bing" search won the topic of "green data center," you will find around 144 million results. Three times as many as a "paris hilton" search. That makes it a fairly saturated topic, indicating a heck of a lot of interest. The first page of the Bing search gives you a mixture of commercial companies, blogs, and "ezines" covering the topic - as well as an organization or two. Some highlights include:
"By painting your rooftop white, you can save anywhere from 5, to 15, to 20% on your air conditioning bill" said Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (21 July 2009). In a rare moment without a snappy comment, Jon Stewart encouraged Steven Chu to continue. "If we start the transition to white rooftops and white pavement, (we could make) a profound effect on the climate."
The concept is pretty simple. If we spend less on energy, the requirement to produce energy is reduced, and we create less carbon dioxide.
In addition, Chu mentioned that if we painted the rooftops of our houses and buildings white, and the roadways to white or a lighter color, it would have the (one time) effect of taking 1 billion automobiles off the road for 11 years (from a study by Art Rosenfeld, California Energy Commission).