Data Centers: Their Energy Efficiency Is Vital in the Face of Sustainability and Climate Change Challenges

Data centers have been exceptional allies during the pandemic. In addition to ensuring the continuity of the operation of companies and organizations in Mexico, they have also contributed to the Digital Transformation acceleration. That is why today the same level of commitment is required of them in the face of two other major challenges: sustainability and the fight against climate change. In specific terms, their leadership must translate into energy efficiency, the use of renewable energies and the adoption of technologies that reduce the carbon footprint.

Data centers have become a global digitalization tool. According to data from Statista, there are 141 data centers in Mexico alone, with an estimated growth in the sector of between 6 and 7.5% in the next five years.

According to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), these centers consume approximately 200 terawatts per hour, or nearly 1% of global electricity demand. This energy consumption and CO2 generation means that data centers generate an estimated annual carbon footprint of 0.3% worldwide.

The challenge of reducing the carbon footprint is particularly important considering that data centers operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They also require specific temperature and humidity conditions. Therefore, as data exchange increases, as the volume of information stored increases, and as the number of these facilities grows, energy consumption will increase.

How can this be achieved?

«Reducing the carbon footprint requires changing energy supply sources, using renewable energies and identifying equipment that consumes energy but does not fulfill any function, as is generally the case in old data centers,» says Juan Pablo Borray, Business Development Manager for Latin America at Panduit.

To do this, it is necessary to make a complete evaluation of the different systems in the data center and, if necessary, replace or upgrade some of them. Among the elements to be reviewed are: energy consumption, redundancy and level of virtualization of cooling systems. This last point is key because, within the operating costs of a data center, between 37% and 50% correspond to the cooling systems, explains the executive.

«Achieving sustainable operation in data centers starts with their construction. This requires the use of products that have been conceived through a life cycle approach, with the environment in mind. This includes operational energy efficiency, end-of-life and disposal considerations. For this purpose, solutions whose design vision allows to manage and automate systems are required,» says Vladimir Linares, Technical Systems Engineer at Panduit.

Approach and tools that make it possible

Faced with the challenge of complying with standards that guarantee maximum efficiency and minimum environmental impact, providers must work on developing Converged Infrastructure for data centers; the model must integrate different systems, which work and are managed independently (communication, computing, access control, energy and security), in a single physical infrastructure that converges in a smart way.

This model enables benefits such as: real-time information support, increased work safety, greater efficiency, regulatory compliance satisfaction, reduced network cost, maximized performance, energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprint.

Some of the technological tools that enable these benefits to be achieved are:

  • Suites of hardware and software components for thermal risk management and cooling energy savings.
  • Solutions for remote monitoring of infrastructure status.
  • Applications that combine environmental and energy monitoring.
  • Thermally efficient cabinets to maintain hot and cold air separation.

The implementation of these technologies contributes to the reduction of cooling costs by 10% to 30%, as well as energy savings of 25 to 30%.

It is clear that humanity has reached a point of no return in many ways. One of them: facing the challenges of sustainability and climate change with the support of technology. Given that data centers are called to be part of the solution, the time has come to select them, not only to ensure the availability and security of information, but also to prove that they are environmentally friendly to the planet, concludes Panduit’s Business Development Manager for Latin America.