Outstanding Contribution to Sustainability and Efficiency Award
From the inception of the company, Green Mountain has had the ambition of “Setting the green standard” in the data center industry. This entailed that we wanted to establish ourselves as being the most energy-efficient data center in the market with 100% renewable energy and close to zero CO2 footprints. We incorporate environmental sustainability in all aspects of our business – in the construction of data centres, in the operation of the data centre and in the future, when decommissioning a data centre.
The single biggest impact a data centre has on the environment is its energy use. More specifically: What type of energy it uses and how much. Many traditional data centres around the world run on fossil fuels which of course is very harmful. Since the beginning, Green Mountain has powered all our data centers with 100% renewable hydro power.
In addition, many older data centres are not very energy efficient. In our industry, we commonly use the PUE metric to describe how efficient a data centre is. PUE provides a ratio between the power used to operate the IT equipment itself, and all associated infrastructure needed to operate the data centre, where cooling makes up the largest portion. According to the Uptime Institute the global average PUE for 2020 is 1.59. Although we have not set a specific PUE target for all our facilities, our goal has been to optimize as much as possible. Today, many of our clients have an average PUE of 1.15 – 1.18 year-round, which is far below the industry average and close to what is possible with today’s technology.
These two aspects are what contributes the most to lowering a data centre’s CO2 footprint. Today, we are already at our target of close to zero emissions from powering and cooling the data centers. Our next goal is to implement true circularity projects reusing the waste heat from our data centers to benefit other industries. Green Mountain is currently involved in two heat reuse pilot projects:
1) Delivering waste heat to the world’s first land-based lobster farm
2) Delivering waste heat to the world’s largest land-based fish farm for trout
However, other initiatives are important to also lower scope 2 and 3 emissions. We are therefore:
- cooperating with CHG-Meridian on life cycle and waste management of old IT equipment. (equipment to be re-used or recycled.)
- giving our clients access to real-time and historical data about the data centre environment with 100% transparency through our Green Peak solution. This enables clients to optimize their data rooms for higher energy-efficiency and providing them with data for their own ESG reporting.
- setting strict environmental requirements to our suppliers.
- using a sustainable methodology in all new constructions of facilities.
We were also the first co-location provider in Europe to support the “The Corporate Colocation and Cloud Buyers’ Principles” by Future of Internet Power Collaborative Initiative (https://www.bsr.org/en/collaboration/groups/corporate-colocation-cloud-buyers-principles) and we have signed the new Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact. (https://www.climateneutraldatacentre.net/) Furthermore, Green Mountain also takes an active part in policy advocacy efforts and recognize our role and responsibility in reducing greenhouse gases to avoid devastating impacts from climate change.
As mentioned earlier Green Mountain Data Centers already run on 100% renewable hydropower, so we can tick that box already. Our second focus area has therefore been energy-efficiency.
- The world’s most energy efficient cooling solution?
At our DC1-Stavanger site we have implemented perhaps the most energy-efficient cooling solution in the world, using the adjacent fjord as the cooling source.
To secure consistent temperature for cooling, water enters our cold-water basin through use of gravity from pipes reaching 100-meter depth. Here, water is stable at 8C (46F) all year round, with no algae production limiting the need for cleaning of our titanium heat-exchanger located in the cooling station.
This cooling solution with use of cold water and gravity is extremely efficient. We use less than 3kW of power to gain more than 1000 kW of cooling delivering our clients significant cost reduction while supporting their requirements and targets for energy efficiency.
The cooling solution (including the cooling station, chilled water pipework and pumps) is fully duplicated providing a N+N solution. With limited moving parts (circulating pumps), the solution is extremely robust and reliable. Server rooms will have available N+N chilled water under the raised floor. In-row-cooling are installed to client specification using hot isle technology. The solution provided is highly flexible and can support standard power densities from 2-6 kW/m2, as well as clients who have requirements for high-density solutions up to 40kW/m2.
- Cooperating with clients to optimize PUE further.
This cooling solution gives us a very low average PUE. However, there are factors within the clients’ data rooms that can be further optimized to lower PUE.
We therefore use a sophisticated self-developed management system (Green Peak) in order to calculate each customer’s PUE using data collected from the infrastructure and identify ways to reduce the overall power consumption and increase the efficiency for each customer. PUE optimization is an integrated part of the operation and a topic in all customer follow up meetings.
- A holistic and sustainable approach to building data centres
It is not only during operations that sustainability must be a priority, the same goes for data center construction. We consider four important elements of environmental sustainability in any new DC building project. These are:
- Carbon Footprint – Mainly relating to Energy Use
- Water Usage
- Waste management and
- Eco-system – How does the data center affect the surrounding eco-system
In alle the phases of a building project these four mentioned elements have to be evaluated. It starts with site selection where the main concern is placing the data center where you have access to clean energy and with as little impact on the surrounding eco-system as possible. In the design phase we make critical decisions that will impact the level of DC sustainability. Relating to choice of cooling solutions, monitoring systems, building materials, certifications. Finally, during the building phase we must make sure we use appropriate building materials and handle/minimize waste sustainable and safely. This entails that we also set strict environmental requirements to the numerous suppliers involved in the project.
In summary, Green Mountain has over the years proved to be one of the most sustainable data centres in the world. "There’s really no other alternative than to be environmentally sustainable in any type of business going forward. The planet’s climate and resources are already stretched to its limits and if we would like a future of healthy and prosperous communities the sustainable pathway is the only way to follow." says Green Mountain CEO, Tor Kristian Gyland.