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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