Data center cooling uses a lot of water, but the industry is beginning to use water more sustainably through various actions.
Data center cooling takes a lot of water, which is problematic, especially when areas where data centers are located experience water scarcity issues. Some companies are taking steps to improve their water stewardship and become more sustainable.
Our voracious appetites for data have driven the growth of the server farm industry. These big data centers have big power requirements, and, as frequent readers of our site know, producing electricity can have a sizable water footprint.
Recognizing the need to change their problematic practices, many companies that operate data centers are looking for more sustainable methods. The companies are driven by economic pressure from investors seeking strong commitments to sustainability goals, corporate policies that recognize risks and customer pressure that is pushing for more transparency in how the centers are operated.
In addition, companies are making commitments to reduce their carbon footprints, use more renewable energy sources and reduce their water use. Balancing energy use and water use can be a tricky operation, though, because the technologies that use less water tend to use more power. Getting this balance right will be crucial to successfully meeting sustainability goals.
Part of water stewardship being pursued by the companies is water replenishment. Unlike carbon, which can be offset through purchases, water can’t be offset, so companies are exploring water replenishment, to replace water that has been used for cooling. In addition, companies are focusing on watershed health, which will be crucial to minimizing water risks as the effects of climate change increasingly impact water supplies.