There are several ways in which data centers can reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions:
- Energy-efficient servers and modern cooling technologies, such as low-temperature cooling, can significantly reduce a data center's energy consumption.
- Energy-saving measures, such as energy-efficient lighting, plugs and switches, or efficient air conditioning, can also help reduce the total energy needs of the data center.
- Data centers are increasingly being located in areas with abundant renewable energy sources or equipped with facilities such as solar panels to generate their own renewable energy and reduce their consumption of fossil fuels. For example, Facebook has built a data center in northern Sweden that is largely powered by wind energy.
- Smart network architecture, such as software-defined networking (SDN), and network virtualization can reduce a data center's energy consumption by increasing efficiency and reducing overcapacity.
- Finally, recycling of old servers and other hardware can contribute to the sustainability of data centers by saving resources and reducing waste.
Note: The energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of a data center depend not only on the technologies used but also on the location and management of the data center. A data center in a cooler climate will generally consume less energy for cooling than a data center in a warmer climate. Weather also plays an important role: during hot summers, a data center needs to use more energy for cooling, which is detrimental to energy consumption. Conversely, a warm winter can be an advantage for a data center because less cooling is required, which reduces energy consumption.