Equinix is dedicated to building and operating data centers that are both socially and environmentally conscious while also ensuring a safe and reliable place for our customers. Data centers consume huge amounts of energy to stream movies on Netflix, find the perfect Mother’s Day gift on Amazon, and meet the internet needs of millions of consumers and businesses.
So on this Earth Day I sat down with Equinix Director of Global Design and Construction Dave Rinard. He’ll be speaking this Thursday at “Greening the Data Center Industry” at the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. I wanted to know what Equinix is doing to be environmentally responsible while keeping our commitment to customers.
What does Equinix do to keep our data centers green?
For more than 5 years Equinix has made annual investments around the world to increase our energy efficiency. In 2013 we have more than 20 major initiatives underway. These projects include fresh air cooling, cold and hot aisle containment, air flow control, adaptive control systems, granular space temperature control systems that actively measures aisle temperatures and controls fan speeds. Some simple things like lighting control. Utilizing more efficient equipment and newer technologies, and incorporating new industry standards. This list goes on.
Which are you most proud of?
Probably our AM3 data center in Amsterdam. It’s one of Equinix’s most innovative and sustainable facilities with a design PUE (power usage effectiveness) of 1.19. PUE is the industry measure for data center efficiency. AM3 uses cold ground water from an underground aquifer to cool the data center. As you’re cooling the data center, you’re removing heat from the environment and transferring that heat into the water. That water is then used to warm nearby buildings and for other purposes. It’s quite extraordinary.
That’s great for new data centers, but what about existing facilities?
At our SG2 data center in Singapore, we retrofitted it with a granular space temperature control system which offers real-time monitoring and control. In a few short months we brought down the PUE from 2.15 to 1.83.
What kind of challenges do you face?
We’re a retail co-location company. We have to cater to a wide range of customer. We don’t have control over what goes in each customer’s cage. Some pieces of equipment are more energy efficient than others. Reliability for our customers is our #1 priority. For efficiency issues that we can control, we tend to evaluate a potential efficiency project or technology for much longer, and make sure it’s bulletproof, and that it meets that first test of reliability and that it’s robust enough.
Equinix keeps winning certifications and awards around the globe for green-related initiatives. I can’t keep up with them all.
Our AM3 facility won the “Green” Data Center Award last year from DatacenterDynamics which we’re quite proud of. Equinix pursues LEED Silver Certifications for all new builds where possible. We have also achieved certification in standards such as ISO 50001 for energy management and ISO 14001 for environmental management, EPA Energy Star for Data Centers, and other comparable certifications around the world such as IDA (Singapore) and BEAM (China). In fact, Equinix was the first data center company to achieve ISO 50001 for all data centers in The Netherlands and UK.
What’s coming in the future?
We continuously explore opportunities for enhancing existing systems or adopting new technologies while ensuring high reliability for our customers and cost efficiency for our shareholders. Some of the technologies were are evaluating are: District Chilled Water via lake cooling, Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage, solar, fuel cell, geothermal, co-generation, and CHP to name a few. The key is that we continue to evolve. Five years ago it wasn’t unusual to see data centers with PUE’s around 2 or 3, and now that we’re building data centers with PUE’s below 1.5 – that’s a huge step forward.
See Dave Rinard’s entire presentation, “Equinix and the evolution of data center efficiency and sustainability” this Thursday (4/25/13) at the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce.