Green Computing Reduces Data Centers’ Carbon Footprint

Jan 1, 2023 | Sustainability

Green computing is a trend that is growing in the information technology industry. The term green IT was coined at the beginning of the 21st century. This movement aims to reduce the energy consumption of servers and other devices and their overall environmental impact.

Green computing has become a standard in the IT industry over the years.

What is Green Computing?

Green computing, also known as sustainable computing or environmental computing, is the branch of environmentalism that deals with reducing an organization’s negative impact on the natural environment through more efficient use of energy and resources in a manner that is economically viable. This approach to design and development can be applied to hardware, software, and facilities.

The three main ways green computing can be achieved are:

  • using energy-efficient products,
  • using software to reduce power consumption, achieve better optimization,
  • and use hardware components built to lower emissions.

The idea of green computing is simple: use fewer resources to accomplish your goals. It can be done using virtual machines with existing hardware instead of buying new servers or upgrading current ones.

With virtualization, many operating systems can run on one physical machine. You can set up a sandboxed environment for testing purposes or spin up a server for an unusual project without buying additional hardware.

Virtualization is a popular strategy for green computing. Virtualization is so common that many people don’t even realize how much impact it has on their overall computer usage. This allows users to easily create new, stand-alone systems without needing external physical hardware. It has its own hard drive and memory, but it will use some of the processing power, storage space, and RAM from its host machine.

Five main categories of Green Computing

Green computing can be divided into five main categories:

Energy efficiency

Reduce power and cooling requirements through the more efficient design of computers and cooling systems; for example, using less power for lighting or using more efficient fans that don’t use as much energy.

The energy efficiency of data centers is critical to the sustainability and long-term viability of organizations that rely on them. The average data center in the United States wastes over $1 million per year in energy costs, which can be drastically reduced by implementing a few green computing practices.

Energy conservation

Reduce power consumption by constraining computers from running at total capacity; for example, throttling CPU speed or limiting memory usage.

Materials conservation

Reduce the amount of waste generated while maintaining or increasing quality through reuse, repair, and recycling; for example, refurbishing rather than discarding old computers.

Energy generation

Harness renewable resources such as solar or wind power to generate energy for use in a data center. Electricity plants create energy by burning coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear material, which releases carbon dioxide and other harmful chemicals into the air. But there’s an alternative to this: energy generation from renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal.

All aspects of being green can be optimized through analysis and planning, but it’s easier said than done. It takes a lot of time and expertise to fully understand your power consumption needs, how different hardware pieces will affect each other, how many servers you need for your workloads, and where to place those servers.

How Green Computing Lowers Data Centers’ Carbon Footprint?

The issue of carbon emissions in data centers is relatively new, but it’s becoming increasingly important as time goes on. There are many ways to reduce a data center’s carbon footprint.

Data centers are scorching places because they have lots of hardware packed into small areas, and all the components generate heat while they work. Large air conditioning units keep them cool, which consumes much electricity. Various innovative cooling methods have been developed to reduce data centers’ carbon footprint, such as evaporative cooling towers, which use evaporation to increase the heat transfer rate from air to water by as much as 30%.

Other techniques include moving cold air through water-filled pipes or mixing cold water with the hot air blown out by servers. These techniques were developed by IBM and have helped them reduce their carbon footprint by 10% annually.

Green computing helps data centers reduce their carbon footprint by reducing power consumption. Green computing uses more energy-efficient equipment, such as servers that use low-voltage processors, solid-state hard drives, and high-performance flash memory instead of magnetic media. This strategy also reduces energy consumption because solid-state drives consume less energy than magnetic media.

Green Computing Impact on The Data Center

Green data centers and servers are essential in making IT more energy efficient. A recent study showed that the energy used for information technology is the fastest-growing sector of commercial energy use. Most of this power is spent running server farms, which are facilities that house and maintain computer servers. The benefits of green IT can be realized through efficient cooling and power management strategies in these facilities and by using efficient hardware such as green server hardware.

Green computing tremendously impacts the data centers that power our digital world. Data centers are crucial in the technology industry, consuming more energy than any other economic sector.

Data centers are currently using a lot of energy to keep calm, and by simply improving their cooling system efficiency by 10%, they could save between 3%-10% on energy consumption. Another step towards greener data centers is adding more servers to consolidate their power consumption.

Reducing the number of servers would also improve data center efficiency because fewer servers mean you need less power. For example, Dell has found that it can reduce data center power consumption by 80% simply by rearranging server racks and adding more cooling units in line with server locations rather than at opposite ends of the room.

What qualifies a company as a green data center? 

A green data center can be defined as a data center that keeps costs low and uses renewable energy sources to power its facility. The impact of green data centers on the environment is essential, mainly because the data center industry contributes significant amounts of CO2 emissions.

The key to greener data centers lies in power utilization effectiveness (PUE). The PUE is the ratio of the total electricity a data center uses to the amount of electricity used by the IT equipment in that data center. A PUE of 2 means that the IT equipment uses two units of electricity while another is lost in transmission and other overhead.

To qualify as a green data center, it needs to have a PUE below 1.5. A PUE above twois considered unsustainable because it uses too much energy for cooling and powering up servers.

What are the benefits of Green Computing?

This is the most common question about green computing and is also the hardest to answer. The reason is that there are so many benefits that it would be impossible to list them all here. In addition, every person who uses a computer has reasons for going green, which means that the benefits for each individual could differ dramatically from the benefits listed below.

There are many benefits to green computing, including the following:

First and foremost, being green saves money. Using less power, or paying less for power, means less money out of your pocket. Green computing can save money on your monthly electric bill by reducing overall energy usage.

Second, green computing helps our environment by reducing CO2 emissions. The more power we use, the more we contribute to global warming. According to the EPA, over half of our electricity comes from coal, which produces massive amounts of CO2 when burned. Reducing our usage will go a long way towards limiting this environmental damage.

Third, green computing can help you do your part as a citizen by reducing your environmental impact. It’s difficult to see how much damage we’re collectively doing to our planet because most of us aren’t able to see the massive CO2 clouds rising from power plants across the country (we’re not all lucky enough to live near one like Al Gore).


Reducing the amount of pollution is an integral part of being green because it reduces the effects of global warming. Global warming is a gradual change in the Earth’s temperature caused by the greenhouse effect, which results from pollution like CO2.

Data centers’ environmental impacts include increased resource use, significant waste generation, and emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

One way to reduce data center energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions is to reduce operational costs by using green technologies and natural cooling methods. Green computing is a vital step in reducing the carbon footprint of modern data centers. To date, data centers have been an enormous contributor to global warming. After all, they consume massive energy and create extreme heat.

Green computing involves the use of technology to help reduce the energy consumed in a data center. The idea is to make the data center eco-friendly and sustainable, which is good for the environment and lessens the company’s carbon footprint.

The data center industry must work towards sustainability and efficiency to reduce carbon emissions and provide a better way of computing.

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