WP#62 - Data Center Environmental Impacts

11 December, 2014 | White Paper

Editor: Christophe Garnier, Schneider Electric Contributing Editor: Billy McHallum, Equinix Contributors: Jay Dietrich, IBM Markus Stutz, Dell

Conducting life cycle assessments (LCAs) to determine a product’s environmental impacts has become relatively mainstream. Applying that same methodology to a data center and its systems is far more challenging due to the variety of data center types and their numbers of suppliers, the lack of applicable component and system data, and the sheer complexity of a data center.

To begin to address the difficulties surrounding data center LCAs, The Green Grid, an international, nonprofit consortium working to enhance data center resource efficiency, set out to identify the main environmental impact categories for the typical data center. Drawing on a combination of results from previous studies and the expertise of its members who are experienced in this area, The Green Grid compiled a range of data center environmental impacts, organized them into five main categories, and defined objectives, measurements, and key performance indicators for some of them. The ranked levels provided follow the same 0-to-5 progression as is used in the widely adopted Data Center Maturity Model (DCMM). Using this information, data center owners and operators can better determine their most critical environmental impacts, evaluate those impacts, and take steps to mitigate them.

In response to the strong interest expressed by recent participants in The Green Grid Forums, a proposal will be put forth to translate the results of this white paper into a new “Environmental” or “Life Cycle” section in the DCMM.