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  • Rotten Apples: Data Centers' Impact on the Environment


    It turns out Cupertino’s Apples are pretty rotten.

    Greenpeace released a study today (it is earth day), How Dirty is Your Data? In the study Greenpeace examines several of the top tech companies energy footprint in regards to their data centers. Apple ranks among the dirtiest.

    Apple’s clean energy index was the lowest in the study at 6.7 % while maintaining the highest dependency on coal with their coal intensity being 54.5%. Apple’s brand new $1 billion data center in North Carolina foots most of the bill eating up as much power as 80,000 US homes according to the study. Hewlett Packard was in the single digits as well, scoring 9.9% on the clean energy index.

    The greenest companies included Yahoo (55.9%) and Google (36.4%).The study attributed the higher scores to Yahoo building the majority of its data centers near green energy sources and Google actively investing in wind and solar power.

    Still, the problem with most tech companies has been their insistence on equating efficiency with green energy.

    “Thus the approach has been a strictly technical solution: improve server energy efficiency and reduce waste associated with cooling and other ‘noncomputing’ energy demands. What this approach fails to consider, however, is the kind of energy used to feed consumption,” the study said.

    Also, a lack of transparency by the companies examined in the study was alarming. Most tech companies refused to disclose basic information regarding clean energy policies and consumption. Greenpeace acknowledges this in the study and makes it clear the clean energy numbers are based only on data made available to them.

    This is all in stark contrast to the green image Apple continues to push each time they have keynote presentation announcing new products. Check Apple’s descriptions for their products and it is hard to not notice the emphasis on being green. In fact they have an entire page on their website dedicated to how green their products are (Apple - MacBook Pro - The world?s greenest lineup of notebooks.).

    “When it comes to being environmentally friendly, Apple approaches things differently — through our products. That’s why MacBook Pro is energy efficient and free of many harmful toxins,” is written on Apple’s website.

    I would expect Apple and other companies to release their own statements regarding their green energy initiatives in the coming days.

    Interesting Facts
    • The US hosts approximately 40 percent of the worlds data center servers.
    • Estimated these data farms consume three percent of the national power supply.
    • It is estimated that annual investment costs in data centers will reach $220 billion worldwide and $50 billion in the US alone.
    • If the Internet were a country it would rank fifth in worldwide energy consumption behind Japan and Russia.

    Sources: GreenPeace
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Rotten Apples: Data Centers' Impact on the Environment started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. ronw's Avatar
      ronw -
      thats a big iFail! hopefully with their centers still gearing up they can incorporate more green technologies
    1. one1's Avatar
      one1 -
      The greenest companies included Yahoo (55.9%) and Google (36.4%).The study attributed the higher scores to Yahoo building the majority of its data centers near green energy sources and Google actively investing in wind and solar power.
      How is Yahoo beating google? Google uses goats as lawnmowers.

      http://techcrunch.com/2009/05/01/goo...m-not-kidding/

      ........................seriously.

      Google is renting the goats from a company called California Grazing. Apparently, every so often a herder will bring about 200 of them to the campus and they’ll roam around for a week eating the grass. Not only that, these goats will fertilize the land at the same time — yes, that way.

      Google claims the goats will cost about the same as lawn mowers would. And a border collie named Jen will be brought onto Google’s payroll to help with the herding as well, apparently. No word on how the maintenance workers who previously had this job feel about losing work to goats.
      [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw_XI0WVZBg[/ame]
    1. feidhlim1986's Avatar
      feidhlim1986 -
      It's not really the fault of Apple that their electricity supplier uses Coal Burning plants. Go after the electricity companies to create more renewable power stations instead of creating bad press for companies.
    1. RICO_'s Avatar
      RICO_ -
      Don't worry. They're releasing a software fix for that.
    1. scroogelives's Avatar
      scroogelives -
      Think green peace should really look at what energy and paper it took to make thus report! I bet some of the energy green peace uses came from coal!!
    1. DaMan05's Avatar
      DaMan05 -
      All these companies should come here to Quebec. We have the cheapest energy in North America and it's all renewable hydro power. Plus it's cold here so that saves on cooling...
    1. delusion950's Avatar
      delusion950 -
      Quote Originally Posted by RICO_ View Post
      Don't worry. They're releasing a software fix for that.
      Helarious =D
    1. Jahooba's Avatar
      Jahooba -
      Hey, I'm all for stomping down on pollutants, but sometimes human technology needs to dirty things up a little bit in order to enhance our lives. And I'm ok with that (I say as I type on my quadcore, 600-watt-burning desktop computer: Woooo!)

      Can't Greenpeace focus from the bottom up instead of the top down?

      Besides, the only thing pollutants hurt is nature, and that's been wiped out plenty of times in cataclysmic events and it always comes back: life is cyclical - animals and plants going extinct is an integral part of reality and the Universe.
    1. PapaRoach143's Avatar
      PapaRoach143 -
      Who the f*** cares!! Sorry had ti be said. xD
    1. Go Gators's Avatar
      Go Gators -
      More Environmental Wacko's at work. These people are frickin nuts! If it was up to them we'd all be back to living in the stone age with no electricity. I'm all for a clean planet and I do recycle, but these people just take everything to the extreme.
    1. coolguy742's Avatar
      coolguy742 -
      Quote Originally Posted by feidhlim1986 View Post
      It's not really the fault of Apple that their electricity supplier uses Coal Burning plants. Go after the electricity companies to create more renewable power stations instead of creating bad press for companies.
      When you are a gigantic mega-corporation like Apple you have the cash to use better alternatives. Ex. Google bought a crap load of BloomBoxes to power one of their buildings in silicon valley (I don't really want to take the time to cite it so look it up on your own)
    1. coolguy742's Avatar
      coolguy742 -
      Quote Originally Posted by RICO_ View Post
      Don't worry. They're releasing a software fix for that.
      ALOL! I nearly peed myself when I read that...
    1. drewstone's Avatar
      drewstone -
      Quote Originally Posted by DaMan05 View Post
      All these companies should come here to Quebec. We have the cheapest energy in North America and it's all renewable hydro power. Plus it's cold here so that saves on cooling...
      Really?!, thats why Canadiens are coming to the good ole' USA for gas that's cheaper by about $1US? stop kidding yourself
    1. DaMan05's Avatar
      DaMan05 -
      Quote Originally Posted by drewstone View Post
      Really?!, thats why Canadiens are coming to the good ole' USA for gas that's cheaper by about $1US? stop kidding yourself
      I was referring to hydroelectricity, not gasoline. The money and CO2 they would save by coming here would be many times more than the excess money they would have to spend on gasoline.

      Also, keep in mind that 25% of American oil comes from Canada and Quebec hydropower powers much of New York and Vermont states.

      Instead of sticking to generic American behaviour and attacking others, try keeping to the topic at hand
    1. dagjoe's Avatar
      dagjoe -
      Quote Originally Posted by drewstone View Post
      Really?!, thats why Canadiens are coming to the good ole' USA for gas that's cheaper by about $1US? stop kidding yourself
      When did we start talking about gas prices? Also... I'm fairly sure not many Canadians are making a trip to the US to fill up their tanks. Actually on second thought, with the Candian dollar being higher, It might be worth it.
    1. brandyn baker's Avatar
      brandyn baker -
      Quote Originally Posted by RICO_ View Post
      Don't worry. They're releasing a software fix for that.
      Hahahaha +1
    1. Kathrynfike's Avatar
      Kathrynfike -
      The growth of development will leads to few activities, iTs not their fault,
      Let the government do the alternative,
      the company or industries are registered and has done the corrective measures...
    1. leathelisor's Avatar
      leathelisor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Go Gators View Post
      More Environmental Wacko's at work. These people are frickin nuts! If it was up to them we'd all be back to living in the stone age with no electricity. I'm all for a clean planet and I do recycle, but these people just take everything to the extreme.
      Ya you're right. We probably shouldn't even care about people polluting the enviroment ya know? I mean, who really (except for environmental wackos) cares about the earth we live on. It's not like our actions could damage it permanently or anything. I just wish more people thought like you and I do.