Energy-efficient data centre helps IT firm cut emissions

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IT consulting firm Capgemini is making rapid progress towards its carbon reduction targets, thanks in part to a state-of-the-art data centre in the UK which is claimed to be one of the most sustainable facilities of its kind.
The 32,000-square-foot Swindon data centre, named Merlin, was opened in 2010. Before that, Capgemini had already been investing in improving the power efficiency of its UK data centres, for example by sourcing 100% renewable energy; installing energy-efficient lighting and moving to lights-out operation; and monitoring temperature set points and making adjustments as required to maintain an optimal power-to-processing ratio.
However, rising demand for IT services, combined with the increasing importance of sustainability, prompted Capgemini to embark on the challenge of building a data centre that fulfilled traditional requirements, such as security and cost-effectiveness, while also embedding sustainability principles into the heart of the project.
The sustainability requirements for the Merlin data centre included: fresh air cooling and free cooling -- energy-efficient computer halls with a range of energy-reduction features; monitoring and managing energy consumption at the rack & Power Distribution Unit (PDU) level; and a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) reading of 1.2 or lower.
According to environmental news website, although the industry average for PUE has improved to around 1.8 today, the Merlin centre -- at 1.08 -- is rivalled by only a few other facilities. For example, social media giant Facebook designed a data centre in Prineville, Oregon, to have a PUE of 1.07, while Google claims that its data centres have an average PUE of 1.12.
Data centres account for as much as 40% of Capgemini's total emissions and 70% of its energy use, and the company has used the experience gained from Merlin to make improvements at other facilities, resulting in a 14% reduction in overall data centre energy consumption.
Across its operations, Capgemini is now three-quarters of the way towards its carbon target for 2020 and the company's latest sustainability report showed a 16% reduction in total carbon emissions since 2014 -- surpassing its carbon goal one year early.
"When we set the science-based target, it was across travel, office and data centres," Capgemini's global head of corporate sustainability, James Robey, told "While data emissions have significantly dropped, it's not the only place. Energy use in offices has fallen by 28% as well.
"There's reductions across the patch, but because of the sheer magnitude of their energy consumption, the efficiency initiatives and the rationalisation programmes in the data centre have given an acceleration to the overall programme."
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Energy efficiency for data centers



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