Although only six percent of buildings that achieve the US LEED Certification standard for energy efficiency and water conservation gain the highest Platinum status, the Green Building Council has awarded the accolade to data centres from General Electric (GE) and Vantage Data Centers.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) programme is designed to highlight and celebrate companies that reach high levels of sustainability. To go Platinum is high praise, and for two data centres to receive the award within a week is exceptional.
Fifty percent of the construction materials came from local sources and 30 percent were recycled materials. GE also recycled most of the waste from the conversion process and used its own power-saving products wherever possible.
In addition to installing innovative, high-efficiency cooling systems, GE has installed high-density servers to pack more computing power per square foot and uses what is described as “an innovative, high-efficiency cooling system”. The size of the data centre floor is only half the area of the data centre it replaces. This means a further saving because less energy is needed to cool the space.
GE is reducing water consumption inside the building by 42 percent compared to the Green Building Council’s baseline. The company has also offset 35 percent of the data centre’s predicted annual energy consumption through the purchase of off-site renewable energy.
GE has a long history in applied computing ever since the company invested in the first commercial UNIVAC computer in the early 1950s.
The most interesting part of the LEED standards is that it also takes ancillary services into account. These even go down to the level of providing bicycle parking as part of a company’s sustainability policy.
Vantage, a cloud hosting operation, received its certification for one of the three parts comprising its data centre in California. The V3 facility (pictured) is a 60,000 square foot, 6MW facility. The centre has a very low Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.29 which the company claims will save it $3 million (£1.8m) each year in operating expenses.
The lighting design in V3 is a forty-one percent improvement over the minimum standard expected and the advanced lighting controls also earned green points in the Energy & Atmosphere category of the LEED assessment. In addition, the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) design is based on the New Building Institutes Core Performance Guide which, along with the use of Energy Star equipment and appliances within the building earned the project further points.
In both cases, the companies are using their LEED awards not merely to earn green points but to highlight the sustainability merits of their own products and services.