Water and Energy Usage Among Data Centers on the Decline

Just as recently as two to three years ago, environmentalists and industry leaders were expressing grave concerns that the demand for data centers would lead to a significant rise in energy consumption. There was reason for concern. With the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) to run businesses and households and the demand for Big Data to provide businesses with critical insights, the accelerated growth of data centers was inevitable.

However, recent studies are showing that those fears are unfounded as data centers have taken on the challenge to implement energy-saving measures.

Water and Energy Usage Among Data Centers on the DeclineA new report released by the U.S. government shows that water consumption, like energy, is revealing a slowing trend among data centers throughout the country. Electricity generation accounts for a large segment of water usage. Studies show that data centers were responsible for 2 percent of all electricity consumed in 2014 throughout the United States.

The report also revealed that water consumption trends between 2006 to 2020 has experienced a lower growth rate — similar to the way that energy consumption has been slowing. In 2014, data centers in the United States consumed 626 billion liters of water. Researchers predict it will reach 660 billion liters in 2020. Variances could be pointed to the fact that different power plants are adopting more efficient equipment and generation sources are using different amounts of water.

Innovations in data center operations have also contributed to an unanticipated decline in energy usage among data centers — all the while, the demand for data centers continues to grow.

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy, Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, and Northwestern University, America’s data centers consumed about 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. That’s about 2 percent of the total energy consumption in the United States. The study also revealed that total data energy consumption grew by a rate of 4 percent from 2010 to 2014 — compared to 90 percent from 2005 to 2010.

That significantly slower rate of growth has been attributed to innovations and best practices that include cloud computing, efficient cooling systems, consolidation of servers, and reducing the number of idle systems.

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Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.