They say the truest form of democracy is capitalism. Every single time you buy something, you are, in a way, casting a vote in support of that one item over any number of available competitors’ items and alternatives. Consumers have made their voices heard when it comes to “green” practices and products. Many consumers are even willing to pay a little more for a “green” product on everything from food, cars, and televisions. Being “green” has become very important to many companies’ images and has affected the way many of us do business, including the types of data centers we choose to do business with.
Companies such as Interxion, Pacnet, QTS, and ViaWest are moving towards green data centers that use new greener technology and consume less energy. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification system intended to standardize and legitimize the practice of sustainable “Green” development. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable “green” building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions that substantially reduce the building’s impact on the environment as compared to similar facilities. Some of the “green” features that these LEED certified Data centers have are:
Site and Transportation
LEED discourages the use of building on previously undeveloped land. in addition, LEED aims to minimize the impact on land and reducing the development footprint of the building while maximizing building functionality. LEED also encourages “green” transportation choices, like having easy access to public transportation.
Materials and Resources
Reduce waste by recycling materials during and after construction, and use building materials from regional, recycled and sustainable-certified sources.
Renewable energy & optimized energy performance
Using renewable energy sources such as implementing free cooling options and natural light in order to reduce electric light demand and reduce the building’s carbon footprint and environmental impact are taken into consideration for the LEED certification. Of course, renewable energy options like solar and/or wind power are taken into account. In addition to other practices, maximizing energy performance such as occupant sensing lighting control and using energy efficient lights like CFL’s (compact florescent light) and LED’s (light emitting diode) increase a facilities energy efficiency.
Minimum water usage
Water efficiency is achieved through smarter use of water inside and outside the building, such as collecting rainfall through a retention pond located on the building’s roof, or using porous asphalt in the parking lot in order to replenish the local ground water supply. In addition, some of the practices to reduce water usage inside the buildings are using high-efficiency fixtures that minimize water consumption in sinks, lavatories, and showers.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you see a company tout a LEED certification so you are not misled. It is important to note that there is no specific LEED certification for data centers. LEED certification does not take anything like PUE or data center operations energy efficiency into account. You should keep an eye out for the SSAE-16 and Uptime institute Tier ratings when it comes to the data center operations. There is a decent pay back for a company who builds a LEED certified data center (some studies estimate a 2-4 year ROI), but there is no guarantee that this will mean a more energy efficient or less expensive energy cost for companies leasing space in one of these data centers. The LEED certification is more of a statement that a company is committed to environmental responsibility, being “green,” and can be important to a company’s culture and image.
Please join the conversation and let us know why you think LEED is important to the future of the data center industry.