As demand for greener data centres grows and the UK Government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) awards funding of almost £1m to assist certain UK data centres in reducing their carbon footprint, many in the industry think more work still needs to be done.

According to data centre and communications specialist Node4, the Government needs to play its part but data centre operators themselves should also incorporate more measures to become greener and more environmentally friendly.

Node4 is currently installing new technologies and advanced cooling equipment that will improve efficiency and further reduce the carbon footprint at a new hall in its Northampton data centre.

Rik Williams, Data Centre Operations Manager at Node4, said, “Our industry has a responsibility both to the environment but also to our own clients to ensure that everything is done to reduce the impact we have on the planet. We’re putting technology into our Northampton data centre expansion which is more advanced. We use the most efficient power supplies, but the big savings are made with advanced cooling technology.

“The main things we do are to use free cooling chillers and cold aisle containment, which save money and energy because you don’t have to cool the same air twice. We also put LED lighting in the data centre because it uses less power and needs less maintenance, but you also get a better quality of lighting and the people actually working there can see what they’re doing much better.”

There is also a growing feeling in the data centre sector that the Government should be doing more to incentivise companies to move their IT to greener outsourced data centres. According to Node4, shifting server functionality to providers that have specialist knowledge of efficient cooling and power technology could significantly reduce carbon footprints, but this situation is still not getting the recognition it deserves from the Government despite the welcome steps in the right direction announced recently.

Rik said, “It’s vitally important that there is widespread acknowledgment of the benefits data centres can deliver, particularly from a sustainability standpoint. The major issue, however, is that the carbon reduction targets don’t give enough recognition of this fact.

“I don’t think it takes into account the fact that many of our potential customers who have got maybe three, four or five racks of equipment in a basement on their premises and are too small to be in a carbon scheme are using a large amount of energy for cooling and aren’t using efficient power supplies and other new technology. Their servers could be consolidated into an efficient data centre. If they were to move into our data centre they would currently be paying the same carbon tax because we have to pass that cost on to the customer. They should be given more of an incentive to switch to using a data centre as the industry itself is making huge inroads in becoming more efficient.”