Steady progress on green data center front, research shows

Data center investments and redesigns meant to save on energy costs could help reduce anticipated greenhouse gas emissions for the sector 13 percent.

Even if the motive isn't actually green in the environmental sense, efforts to improve data center energy efficiency will help drive a greenhouse gas emissions reduction of approximately 13 percent compared with a "business as usual" approach.

The reductions are being driven by heightened attention to electricity costs and enabled by investments in virtualization, cloud computing, advanced cooling technologies and more sophisticated management tools, according to a new report from Pike Research, focused on Green Data Centers.

"The drive toward green data centrers is a response to business requirements to reduct costs across the company as well as a response to environmental concerns," said Pike Research director Eric Woods, in a press release about the data. "Within the data center environment, that translates to a mandate to reduce energy consumption, which in turn is driving innovation. Data center operators are exploring new ideas related to business models, facility construction, layout and design, air flow dynamics, new technology, and monitoring and management tools."

Which of those approaches is your own organization taking? Probably more than one, more to save money than anything else, but there is a green side effect, apparently.

All these upgrades and design changes will represent a $45 billion annual market opportunity by 2016, with the Asia Pacific region reporting the fastest growth in these investments, according to the Pike Research data.

If current activity keeps up, Pike Research predicts that the greenhouse gas emissions from data center facilities will be about 13 percent less than they would otherwise be, at about 1,156 million tons (rather than 1,236 million tons).

Data centers account for between 1.5 percent and 2 percent of the world's energy consumption, depending on whose figures you believe.