The importance of a carbon-neutral data centre

environmentally friendly data centre

We are living through an extraordinary era of humanity. There’s a 5p charge for plastic bags, we have the technology telling us the exact energy used to boil a kettle. But what are we really doing to save the planet?

Every day there is a new problem that we seem to have caused. Earlier in the year, David Attenborough’s new TV series Blue Planet 2 filmed what is left of the Great Barrier Reef.  Even if you didn’t get the opportunity to watch the documentary, we are seeing the effects of growing climate change here in the UK; with snow in March and record-breaking temperatures in June. As a 20-year-old, I find myself asking “why am I paying high energy bills and 5p for plastic bags?” when big companies are just doing as they please to line their pockets, aren’t they?

If we were playing a game of Family Fortunes, and the question was “What industry pollutes the most greenhouse gas emissions?”, you can bet airlines would be in the top answers. You’d be right, airlines do contribute to around 2% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. A less likely answer might be… data centres.

Data centres worldwide go toe-to-toe with the airline industry, with the same carbon footprint as the 60-ton aluminium tubes that transport us through the air to another continent in a space of hours.

The challenge to establish an energy-efficient data centre

What is the IT industry doing to reduce carbon emissions? Well, like the rest of us, the industry knows how much emphasis is being put onto the environment and ‘going green’ is now a top priority for many reasons. Tech firms understand the importance of their carbon footprint. The smarter technology providers realise it can also be an excellent way to win business.

In the race to be as green as possible, it is more important than ever to the consumer that they choose an environmentally friendly data centre. The crucial factor in making that decision, is PUE, which stands for Power Usage Efficiency.

Those three letters represent a way of evaluating the efficiency of a data centre. With everyone fighting for the lowest PUE, it is a great way to compare the market.

data centre statistics on PIEAt Blue Chip, we are proud to say we have the most energy efficient data centre in the UK, with a PUE of 1.13%. This is largely down to our eco-cooling system which uses little energy to cool our data centre. For a company with such clear values, it is excellent to be able to tell our customers that we care as much as they do about the environment.

“Okay, that’s great,” you might say, “but you are still polluting carbon dioxide into the earth every day, causing a greenhouse effect in our atmosphere, which erodes the Great Barrier Reef, causes snow in March and boiling temperatures in June… or at least I thought that’s what you said…”

I hear you. In fact, Blue Chip hears you. Not only do we have the most efficient data centre in the UK, but we are also carbon neutral. This means we remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as we put into it.

The green meaning

For a company to be carbon neutral, they must first understand the full effect of their carbon footprint. Once they understand this, they can then set up a plan to remove the amount of carbon dioxide that they are releasing. This process is known as carbon offsetting, and the most popular way to carbon offset is planting trees. Trees are amazing in so many ways – cleaning our air, locking up carbon dioxide and slowing the rate of climate change.

In fact, according to one American study, ‘just one, single mature tree can absorb 22 kilos of carbon dioxide in a year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings’. So even though we know the benefits of trees, humanity is still cutting down billions of trees every year for a variety of reasons, from the wood being used for paper to the sap being used for chewing gum.

I mentioned earlier that data centres contribute to 2% of the greenhouse gas emissions… well, deforestation is ten times that, equating to 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Blue Chip calculated that 2,000 mature trees would lock up the carbon resulting from the operation of each server rack, of which we have 384 in our tier iv design data centre. We care about the local environment and the carbon footprint that we are leaving on the planet. In 2010, we teamed up with the Forest of Marston Vale; a local community forest near to our Bedfordshire-based data centres.

Since then we have planted over 88,000 trees and eight new woodlands at Marston. We plan to plant many more over the coming years. This is our way of removing as much carbon as we put in, as well as supporting a local cause.

In summary, the environment is changing quicker than it ever has before. If we do not act quickly, the world as we know it will be too late to save and we will be the generation that killed our beautiful planet because of greed and power. It is everyone’s responsibility to try to reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible.

From little things like boiling your kettle less, to data centres being as efficient as possible. Blue Chip cares about the environment and therefore is proud to own the most efficient data centre in the UK, as well as achieving a carbon neutral status. If we all try to reduce power usage and give back as much as we take away, we will be the ones that saved the planet, not ruined it.


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