Research Papers

Evaluating Life-Cycle Environmental Impact of Data Centers

[+] Author and Article Information
Amip Shah1

 Hewlett Packard Laboratories, 1501 Page Mill Road, MS 1183, Palo Alto, CA 94304-1126amip.shah@hp.com

Cullen Bash

 Hewlett Packard Laboratories, 1501 Page Mill Road, MS 1183, Palo Alto, CA 94304-1126

Ratnesh Sharma

 NEC Laboratories America, 10080 North Wolfe Road, Cupertino, CA 95014

Tom Christian

 Hewlett Packard Laboratories, 3404 E. Harmony Road, Ft. Collins, CO 80528-9544

Brian J. Watson, Chandrakant Patel

 Hewlett Packard Laboratories 1501 Page Mill Road, MS 1183, Palo Alto, CA 94304-1126


Corresponding author.

J. Electron. Packag 133(3), 031005 (Sep 14, 2011) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4004096 History: Received January 18, 2010; Revised April 15, 2011; Published September 14, 2011; Online September 14, 2011

Numerous evaluation metrics and standards are being proposed across industry and government to measure and monitor the energy efficiency of data centers. However, the energy use of data centers is just one aspect of the environmental impact. In this paper, we explore the overall environmental footprint of data centers beyond just energy efficiency. Building upon established procedures from the environmental sciences, we create an end-to-end life-cycle model of the environmental footprint of data centers across a diverse range of impacts. We test this model in the case study of a hypothetical 2.2-MW data center. Our analysis suggests the need for evaluation metrics that go beyond just operational energy use in order to achieve sustainable data centers.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Environmental impacts by type of infrastructure in the data center

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Figure 2

Embedded versus operational impacts for different environmental impact categories

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Figure 3

Fraction of impact within each infrastructure that is embedded

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Figure 4

Relative particulate releases from different sectors during manufacturing of IT equipment




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