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carbon-negative data center

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A carbon-negative data center is one that effectively has a negative carbon dioxide (CO2) output, thus tending to reduce the greenhouse effect (albeit very slightly) and generally reducing its own electric consumption.

Typically, a data center is a massive, resource-using, heat-generating facility. Data centers with old direct designs can use as much power as a medium-sized city. Globally, datacenters emit 200 million tons of carbon per year, the equivalent of more than 42 million cars. Rather than contributing to that total, a carbon-negative data center can reduce it.

Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the cost of electricity used as well as the costs of cooling the heated environments produced by power-hungry compute power. Both legislation and current concepts of business sustainability require the management and coordination of processes that have significant environmental impact.  As a result, efforts are being made to reduce requirements, use smart cooling designs, attain power from green sources and decrease the data center’s carbon footprint.

In Sweden, the first carbon-negative datacenter is in development. The facility’s designs include a remarkable number of design and power considerations to that end, including:  

  •  A green roof with open-air cooling, in the 41F average temperature of the region.
  • Water-saving techniques.
  • Renewable energy sources, including recycled wood from waste forestry materials like bark and saw dust, as well as wind, solar and hydro generation of electricity.

See an introduction to the carbon-negative data center:

This was last updated in February 2016

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