Optimizing energy efficiency is a top priority for data centers worldwide. Read on to find out how the Internet of Things can help create cleaner, greener data centers.
Today's data centers have a massive impact on the planet. Besides consuming 3% of the global electricity supply, which is more than the entire United Kingdom, data centers contribute 2% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions – according to global sustainability consultancy firm Anthesis
. Data centers also produce electronic waste as a by-product when discarding damaged and obsolete server, storage, and networking equipment. Collectively, e-waste makes up 70% of all toxic waste in the U.S
Admittedly, data centers have made commendable progress in becoming more sustainable. For instance, a study published by The American Association for the Advancement of Science
reveals that while data-center workloads rose more than sixfold between 2010 and 2020, better cooling systems and more efficient components have kept energy usage relatively at bay, increasing by only 6% over the same period.
Nevertheless, as the climate change crisis intensifies, data centers must ramp up their efforts to become as efficient as possible. The Internet of Things offers some promising solutions, as it enables real-time visibility, automated control, and predictive analysis across various aspects of data center operations.
Read on to learn how IoT can help data centers improve their sustainability efforts.
How can IoT make data centers more efficient?
Global data center numbers stand at a staggering 7.2 million in 2022
. This ubiquity has made their negative environmental impacts too significant to ignore. Fortunately, the Internet of Things can help data centers operate more efficiently and reduce their carbon footprints.
Below are four ways IoT solutions can improve data center efficiency.
1. Progressive efficiency measurement
The first step toward improving data center efficiency is establishing a baseline of current efficiency levels. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is the industry-accepted measurement of data center efficiency and is determined by dividing the total energy consumption by the IT equipment consumption.
Direct monitoring of electric parameters at various critical points in the data center is essential to get the measurements required for PUE calculation. Moreover, because consumption varies depending on demand and weather conditions, operators must calculate PUE at frequent intervals.
IoT can help data center operators address these challenges by providing real-time visibility into energy consumption. Connected sensors can be deployed throughout the data center to track all relevant parameters and transmit the data in real-time to a central location for analysis. As a result, data center operators can gain a clear understanding of their actual PUE and make informed decisions about improving efficiency.
2. Temperature and humidity control
Environmental conditions play a crucial role in data center efficiency. For example, above-optimal heat strains the cooling system, resulting in increased energy consumption, while exceedingly low temperatures can increase condensation and severely damage electrical systems. Meanwhile, significantly high humidity can cause water damage, while an extreme humidity downturn can result in static discharge build-up, endangering electronics.
Optimizing these environmental conditions requires data center operators to regularly monitor and adjust air conditioning systems. However, many data centers still rely on staff to periodically check sensor readings on-site and make the necessary system adjustments, resulting in frequent errors and significant energy wastage.
IoT systems can automatically control HVAC air temperatures to maintain an environment consistent with the optimum operating temperatures noted in ASHRAE's Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments
. A higher supply of air temperature increases the efficiency of the plant's cooling system, resulting in lower energy consumption.
Additionally, by continuously monitoring temperature and humidity levels, IoT systems can prevent conditions that could lead to equipment failure. For example, if sensors detect the temperature is above the safe operating limit, the system can automatically take corrective action to prevent damage.
3. Leak detection
Massive failures can occur in a data center with an ineffective water leak detection system. Even minor leaks can cause devastating equipment malfunction, leading to costly repairs and downtime. Moreover, a damp environment makes it harder for the servers and IT equipment to dissipate heat, resulting in increased energy consumption for cooling.
Besides water leaks, data centers with raised floor plenums often suffer from uncontrolled air leakage, which reduces the amount of cooled air reaching the IT equipment. As a result, the cooling system works harder to maintain the proper environmental conditions, consuming more energy.
IoT-based leak detection systems can help data center operators identify and close leaks before they cause significant energy loss. Humidity and air-flow sensors placed strategically at leak-susceptible locations can check for air and water leaks and send alerts to data center managers in real-time.
4. Smart lighting
Understandably, organizations implementing data centers tend to focus more on optimizing server performance than lighting quality. However, lighting can have a significant impact on data center efficiency. Appropriate lighting stabilizes temperature, minimizes the energy used for illumination, and makes it easier for operators to maintain equipment.
Thanks to IoT, data centers can do more to improve lighting efficiency than merely replacing fluorescent lamps with LED-type fixtures. For example, enhanced IoT-enabled lighting controls, such as motion and occupancy sensors, can optimize energy consumption by automatically turning lights on and off based on demand.
Data centers can also leverage task lighting, which provides the right light level for specific activities while minimizing glare and maximizing efficiency. By placing task lighting around the room's perimeter and under cabinets, facilities can achieve better energy efficiency while still providing employees with the light they need to work.
Most impressively, IoT solutions can collect lighting and occupancy data, which operators can then use to create the perfect lighting environment. By analyzing historical usage patterns, IoT systems can design lighting schedules that maximize efficiency while providing the necessary light for employees to work comfortably.
Improve Data Center's Efficiency with the Top Energy IoT Solutions on the Market
As the heart of the digital economy, data centers keep businesses up and running and data flowing round the clock. However, their massive carbon footprint makes them a significant contributor to climate change.
IoT technologies provide data centers with unquestionable opportunities for optimizing operations and maximizing efficiency. The IoT market has a lot to offer to enterprises looking to improve their facilities' energy efficiency, including smart sensors, automated temperature, and humidity controls, leak detection systems, intelligent lighting solutions, and innovative IoT-enabled software platforms.
As the one-stop source of IoT products, IoT2Market gives you the best chance of finding the right IoT solutions for your data center sustainability needs.