Always the bridesmaid, never the bride? Techbuyer was lucky enough to play both this May. After being shortlisted for Data Centre Energy Efficiency Project of the Year at the DCS Awards, we must have caught the bouquet; we had a surprise win of the Sustainable Project of the Year at the Electrical Review Excellence Awards. To be recognised by a periodical in existence since the 1870s is no mean feat for a young company like ours.
The Electrical Review Awards were kind enough to notice one of our favourite projects from last year: a partnership with WindCORES that put refurbished servers inside a very different green data centre “campus”. WestfalenWind, a sustainable energy provider, designed a new type of data centre to fit inside a wind turbine in Paderborn, Germany.
We first met the WestfalenWind when we presented at a panel discussion on sustainability within data centres at the CEBIT 360 Lounge in June 2018. With an innovative project on clean energy for the sector, they wanted a sustainable solution for IT hardware. Our refurbished servers were the perfect choice. It also aligned perfectly with our commitment towards sustainability in all forms, and in August 2018 we sponsored the event at WestfalenWIND premises in Paderborn.
Focusing on sustainability often leads to interesting projects. As examples, over the past year we have shipped excess packaging to social enterprises to make into craft kits, collected pallets of keyboards and monitors to send to African schools and joined the discussion on remanufacture. The WindCORES project was a slightly different direction. It focused on the capitalisation of energy usage rather than just materials. It was exciting to be part of a new conversation.
The project took a new angle on energy provision. More than demonstrating that renewable energy can be used in data centres, it provided an innovative case study in locating a data centre at the power source. In doing so, it saved the environmental cost of building materials steel and concrete and became an excellent example of doing more with less. Installing refurbished servers in custom built racks mirrored this approach in the IT infrastructure.
With the growth of edge data centres on the horizon, the WindCORES project provided a model for how this could happen at scale. Wind turbines are small enough to build next to transport roads and railways, which means that smart transport now has a viable option that saves on carbon emissions and precious raw materials. The breakneck speed of technological change often leaves people wondering how the planet can provide the resources to keep it moving. This project gives one answer to this.
Attending the awards, we were struck by just how much sustainability is an integral part of industry discussion. Consulting Engineer and Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds Ian Bitterlin, who presented the awards, reminded us that sustainability begins at the very heart of a data centre with the IT load. Streamline the design of data management, avoid under utilising machines, and you will go a long way towards reducing energy usage.
Doing more with less chimes a chord with all sectors of the data centre industry, it seems. It is great to be a part of the conversation. There is so much innovation in the IT sector, and an increasing focus on sustainability, which means we can look forward to many other exciting projects in the future.