We know that data centres are a necessity in our current society, but the impact it has on our environment could possibly be disadvantageous. They have a huge environmental impact on the world we live in.
Today they account for more than 3% of the global electricity supply and also contribute to more than 2% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. Electronic waste, otherwise known as E-Waste, is another byproduct of data center refresh activity. As per a recent EPA report, E-Waste overall accounts for 2% of solid waste and 70% of toxic waste. E-Waste is created when data centres dispose of their server, storage, and networking equipment. An estimated 20 to 50 million metric tonnes of E-Waste is disposed of globally every year depositing heavy metals and other hazardous waste into our landfills. If measures are not taken E-Waste is expected to grow 8% each year.
A single data centre can take more power than a medium-size town. In simple terms, data centres are numerous computers stacked together. Because these computers are working hard nonstop they get extremely hot. Cooling systems need to be put in place to ensure they do not overheat and that they continue to keep working. Cooling down these copious amounts of computers uses energy and burns fossil fuels, which in turn also adds more carbon emission.
Also, data centers require a tremendous amount of energy, which can be harmful to the environment. But there are ways of changing the way data centres operate and also change the impact on the environment for the good. Our society uses an incredible amount of data, which only means that data centres will always be a necessity as well. We just need to find ways to help them operate in a healthier way.
So in what way can we stop the environmental hazard due to data-centres and more e-waste production? One popular approach is to simply locate data centres in cool climes and blow the outside air into them. Such centres don’t have to be in icy regions. However, there are other smarted options to prevent e-waste hazard and environmental issues caused by data centres.
We can do the following:
- There are multiple ways to dispose of E-Waste, which includes partnering with a recycling company, repurposing hardware at their business, or reselling the hardware. 12% do not do any type of systems recycling which directly contributes to the E-Waste problem. Reasons given for not recycling spanned from the process being too “time-consuming” or “costly” followed by difficulty in finding a proper partner to lack of proper planning for E-Waste management.
- The introduction of artificial intelligence to help manage data centre operation efficiency, and the use of seawater and rainwater powered cooling systems instead of using solely electricity, will change the way data centres impact the environment for the better.
- Better design for a sustainable architecture will help solve the issue. It needs to be ensured that the solutions that is designed consider environmental factors and sustainability. One key area is the design of data centres and the power consumption of the physical equipment they use.
This World Environment Day let’s join hands to solve this issue. Reach out to us at email@example.com