Skip to main content

Data Center Colocation - Sustainability

Data Center Sustainability

A growing trend in the computing industry known as Green IT challenges organizations to reduce the environmental impact of their IT operations. Designed with sustainability in mind, OIT's primary colocation Data Center is up to this challenge.

A Standout Example of Green IT

Efficiency in Data Centers is often expressed as Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). PUE is the ratio of the total amount of power used by a Data Center facility (i.e. cooling, lighting, and any other overhead energy consumption) to the power delivered to computing equipment.

PUE = Total Facility Power / IT Equipment Power

In 2011, the typical Data Center had a PUE rating between 2.5 and 2.8, meaning that for every one watt consumed by IT equipment, another 1.5 watts (or more) were additionally consumed by cooling and other facility overhead. The primary colocation Data Center, on the other hand, has an aggressive target maximum PUE of 1.2, which OIT has been successful in meeting. In 2016, the average PUE was 1.16.

Energy-Efficient Cooling

One of the most impactful ways to reduce a Data Center’s carbon footprint is with an efficient cooling system. The primary colocation facility's cooling system takes advantage of Boulder’s climate to reduce energy consumption. In cold weather, Data Center equipment is cooled by filtered outside air. In warm weather, direct evaporative cooling is used. Efficiency is further enhanced by the use of hot aisle containment structures that isolate the hot air discharged by the servers for exhaustion to the outdoors.

Looking to the Future

IT operations are energy intensive, giving CU Boulder abundant opportunities to reduce its energy use. Seizing these opportunities not only helps the environment, it also helps the bottom line. OIT is very fortunate to have the support of Facilities Management and their team of experts to help develop and execute thoughtful Data Center plans that will pay dividends well into the future, both to the University and the environment.