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Sustainable/Green Data Centres

The following report was prepared and published by our sister platform SPEEDA—June 2024.

Table of contents

  • Overview
  • Monetisation
  • Future


Data Centres Under Scrutiny for High Energy and Water Consumption, E-Waste Generation

Sustainable or green data centres are the result of the ongoing sustainability efforts by conventional data centres to lower their carbon footprint and overall environmental impact. It has evolved primarily due to the high energy consumption and carbon emissions of data centres, as they release significant amounts of heat through their operation which must be removed via energy-intensive cooling systems. IT equipment and cooling systems are thus the main energy consumers in data centres (roughly 50% and 40% of total facility energy consumption, respectively) and therefore the key targets of the sustainability efforts.
Water consumption is also a concern with commonly used evaporative coolers being highly water intensive. In addition, data centres regularly generate e-waste given their short replacement cycles of servers (average replacement cycle of three-five years) and other IT equipment. The industry’s low rate of recycling and reusing IT hardware is thus another aspect to be addressed. According to a study by Supermicro (2021; latest available), only 28% of surveyed data centre companies worldwide refurbished or reused their IT hardware internally.

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