How Data Centers are Using Renewable Energy to Lessen their Carbon Footprint

Data storage is big business in today’s world. In fact, there’s a good chance all your photos, videos, documents and files are stored somewhere in the cloud. Moreover, setting up automated backups and syncing across all our devices is so effortless that we forget where this information really lives: huge data centers spread around the world. And these data centers consume a lot of energy.

So how do some of the biggest energy consumers lower their carbon footprint? That’s easy: through renewable energy sources and other innovative means to keep those servers cool. These are how today’s data centers are preparing for tomorrow’s world of energy.

Small Business

While one mega data center may have a large carbon footprint, its use of technology and systems pales in comparison to all the servers used by small businesses across the country. As you might imagine, small-to-medium-sized companies don’t have access to the same energy-efficient technology that major corporations employ — and those on-site server rooms take up a lot of space and plenty of energy needs.

How Data Centers are Using Renewable Energy to Lessen their Carbon Footprint
Of course, the cloud isn’t just for smartphones and PC and laptop backups. Small businesses are opting out of using local storage and instead are adopting enterprise-level cloud-based services like those sold by Mozy. Removing server rooms from small-to-medium-sized companies — and instead turning to cloud-based technology — allows data to be accessed anywhere, anytime.

Dell’s Liquid Cooling

Anyone who has ever assembled their own PC knows there are two ways to cool a CPU — by using a heatsink and fan, or a liquid pump and radiator. The latter means is more expensive upfront, but reduces heat much easier and faster. Likewise, data centers produce a lot of heat, which takes even more energy to cool.

That’s why companies like Dell are creating innovative ways to cool servers using liquid technology. Liquid-cooled data centers usually use ground or city water from central pumps, which can use a lot of energy to distribute. But Dell’s cooling technology, which is used at data centers owned by eBay, store water in towers above the servers and let gravity do most of the work to bring it into the server racks. In the end, there’s no central pump to contend with and much less power is required.

Apple’s Green Initiative

iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage system and the home to almost every uploaded photo, video and backup by iPhone users, now runs on 100 percent renewable energy. This is no easy feat, and Apple goes into great detail about how it reached that pinnacle in its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report.

You may not know that most of Apple’s data centers operate in rural areas, where huge wind and solar farms power 100 percent of their energy needs. But because Apple relies on using so much of this land, the company has made it a point to create more renewable energy sources.

Next Steps

Major players like Google, Apple, Dell and Amazon have all committed to “going green” with Big Data. Indeed, these corporations certainly have the resources to build large solar and wind farms, but the next step in truly eliminating their carbon footprint is to improve efficiency — both in cooling and the servers themselves.

The Intel Xeon, a chip commonly used in servers, consumes more energy than CPUs in your standard PC. But Intel has made efforts to reduce the required wattage with each generation of processor it develops. Reducing energy dependency by five or 10 watts may not seem like much, but multiply that by hundreds or even thousands of servers and it adds up. Small increments like these can save enterprise-level companies millions of dollars on their utility bills.

Nearly 10 years ago, we talked in gigabytes, while today we talk in terabytes. And in the near future, we’ll be talking in petabytes. Big Data is growing exponentially, and it’s up to the big players as well as small-business owners to create new ways to power these data centers without increasing their carbon footprint.

4 Tips to Reduce Energy Usage at Home

For a homeowner, reducing energy usage at home not only reduces your carbon footprint, but it also greatly reduces your energy bill. If you’re looking for ways you can start living a more “green” lifestyle or you just want to save more money, here are four tips to help you get started.

Opt for Energy-Efficient Appliances

When you think energy-efficient appliances, ENERGY STAR is the trusted label that comes to mind. Widely recognized, ENERGY STAR appliances meet the strict energy-efficient requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). When you choose ENERGY STAR appliances, you’re saving money and saving energy, all without sacrificing quality. For example, choosing an ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher is 10 percent more energy efficient, 20 percent more water efficient and will cost you $35 less annually compared to a standard dishwasher. It doesn’t stop at dishwashers, ENERGY STAR offers over 65 different products for your home ranging from lighting and appliances to consumer electronics.

Choose the Right Lights

There are a few choice when it comes to energy-efficient lighting, but light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are the way to go! Although these bulbs cost you more upfront than traditional incandcscent bulbs, they save you money in the long run, and most importantly, use less energy. Most people are aware of LED light bulbs, however, there are several other appliances and electronics that use light, like your refrigerator, microwave, security camera and television, to name a few. By choosing energy-efficient options, specifically LED, you will reduce your energy usage. For example, Lorex Technology offers several security cameras with LED lights and LED screens that are energy efficient and high quality. In addition, previously discussed ENERGY STAR appliances also utilize LED lights that are more efficient than their counterparts.

4 Tips to Reduce Energy Usage at Home

Unplug Idle Electronics

Even after shutting down the computers for the night, turning off the TV and switching off all of the lights, your electricity meter is still working hard. Nearly one-quarter of home energy use is consumed by vampires, not blood-sucking vampires, but rather devices and appliances that are still plugged in, wasting electricity even after they are switched off. The Natural Resources Defense Council and affiliates partnered to asses the impact of these vampire electronics and found that inactive devices waste about $165 per U.S. household on average, translating to approximately 50 large (500-megawatt) power plants’ worth of electricity nationwide. Unplugging these vampire electronics, or at least reducing their affects, starts with purchasing power strips that are easily flipped on and off, timers that shut down electronics when they’re not in use and turning off “quick start” options on your TV or gaming consoles so the energy grid isn’t being utilized on stand-by.

Be Smart When Heating and Cooling

Properly and efficiently insulating your home, including windows and the ceiling, cannot be emphasized enough. This will keep your home cool in the summer when you have the air conditioner on and warm in the winter with the heater running. Although you should leave insulation to professionals, the U.S. Department of Energy has great resources for where you should start if you’d like to make your home more energy efficient, while reducing energy bills. First, you need to find out how much insulation you’ll need and where it will go. This includes hiring a qualified home energy auditor to conduct an insulation check which identifies areas of your home that need to be sealed before you begin insulating.

Also, consider geothermal energy too from people like my buddies at Dandelion Energy!

12 Great Ways To Recycle Office Waste

Harnessing and recycling office waste with potential for reuse, or properly managing the resources in the office will bring value not only to the company, but also to the fragile environment.

It is important to be clear about the relevance of recycling as a business practice. By recycling we drastically reduce the waste we are producing for landfill, while also reducing the need to extract finite resources from our planet.

Turn your business green

By reducing the rate at which we extract raw materials from the planet, we not only slow the destruction of natural environments and processes, but we also prevent the saturation of waste deposit areas and contamination of other delicate environments. In turn, becoming a green business and increasing the amount you recycle can bring noticeable financial perks. It is often far cheaper to send commercial waste to be recycled than to have it collected for landfill, while also reducing the elements you need to purchase.

Recycling paper products

Recycling paper and cardboard has a positive impact the environment, not only by reducing the need for tree felling and therefore maintaining the delicate ecosystems within forests, but by maintaining or even improving air quality by the number of trees left standing.

Refilling Ink cartridges

You can also recycle components other than paper products. Ink cartridges for printers can be refilled many times before they need parts to be replaced. Even when they can no longer be refilled, they can be sent off to specialist recycling points where they can be dismantled and recycled.

Go digital

The use of clean energy, as well as moderation in the consumption of electrical energy, also has a positive impact on our productivity. With such impressive technical advances over the last few decades, more and more offices are switching to digital alternatives – such as email and shared remote access to documents. These are much quicker than the hard copy alternatives and the reduction in the need for printing makes it much better for the environment.


How to reduce, recycle and reuse office materials

How to reduce, recycle and reuse office materials
• Provide the office with plenty of recycling points which make it clear how to separate materials.
• Reduce the use of paper to send memos, documents or communications of any kind. It’s time for you to get 100% digital.
• Use digital storage to archive documents and records to avoid using paper – free up your office space while helping the planet!
• If you really need to, only print the final document.
• Refill ink cartridges rather than buying new units each time.
• Print double sided to halve the number of pages you use.
• When you need to communicate new measures or announcements, draw on a black or whiteboard, your team can take a photograph is they need a permanent record.
• If you need to remove waste, consider hiring a skip from a supplier which recycles the majory of the waste.
• Stop providing your employees with disposable cups, recycle the ones you have and replace them with washable vessels.
• Try to reuse envelopes and packaging, particularly for internal mail.
• Reuse crushed paper to wrap or package.

Encourage your employees

Help your employees to recycle within the Office by providing the business with plenty of recycling bins for the different materials you wish them to recycle. Have separate containers for paper, plastic, glass and aluminium. Making it as simple as possible will increase the chance they will help you to recycle.

It is necessary to make each and every employee aware of the importance of participating in recycling initiatives as an action of common benefit. Doing so means only a small effort, but implementing it translates into great environmental and economic benefits. 

Old Chapel at UMass Amherst Receives LEED Gold Certification

AMHERST, Mass – The renovation of the historic Old Chapel at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED rating system is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

Built in 1885, the Old Chapel is the most iconic and significant historic building on the UMass Amherst campus. Designed by Steven C. Earle in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, the building originally housed a library, auditorium, natural history collections and classrooms. It was later used as a drill hall, departmental offices and finally as home to the Minuteman Marching Band in the 1960s, before officially closing its doors in 1999 due to structural deterioration.

Built in 1885, the Old Chapel is the most iconic and significant historic building on the UMass Amherst campus. Designed by Steven C. Earle in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, the building originally housed a library, auditorium, natural history collections and classrooms. It was later used as a drill hall, departmental offices and finally as home to the Minuteman Marching Band in the 1960s, before officially closing its doors in 1999 due to structural deterioration.
The Old Chapel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015, and work began on a $21 million renovation, addition and preservation effort to restore the building to its original glory. After a thoughtful planning process to find a contemporary use for the building while preserving as much of the original fabric as possible, the revitalized Old Chapel now serves students, faculty and alumni as a campus resource: the first floor provides a flexible layout for student study, gallery exhibitions and community events; and the Great Hall on the top floor provides a large open space for performances, lectures, receptions and weddings.

UMass Amherst and the UMass Building Authority hired Finegold Alexander Architects of Boston to design the restoration and demonstrate how aspects of historic preservation and sustainability can work together. The firm deployed an array of sustainability strategies to maintain the integrity of the original design and materials, while adapting the building’s structure and interior to modern use, access and building code requirements. The Old Chapel’s original structure consists of local timber and stone such as Pelham granite and Longmeadow sandstone. The design reused 83 percent of structural masonry, wood columns, beams, trusses and wainscoting trim and 82 percent of new wood products were either locally sourced or Forest Stewardship Council (CSC) Certified. 

The addition of a contemporary glass entry pavilion at the south façade is integrated into a landscaped terrace that provides full accessibility while also incorporating water efficient landscaping and rainwater management that improves site ecology.

Meeting modern indoor environment and energy efficiency requirements within the original exterior wall assembly was a challenge: the design team used energy modeling to find the correct balance of masonry wall insulation, energy efficient glazing and stained glass restoration so that sustainability goals were in concert with historic restoration efforts. The building is designed to exceed code energy performance by 21 percent and to reduce potable water use by 34 percent, and it will follow a rigorous measurement and verification process that ensures those savings are realized post-occupancy.
Meeting modern indoor environment and energy efficiency requirements within the original exterior wall assembly was a challenge: the design team used energy modeling to find the correct balance of masonry wall insulation, energy efficient glazing and stained glass restoration so that sustainability goals were in concert with historic restoration efforts. The building is designed to exceed code energy performance by 21 percent and to reduce potable water use by 34 percent, and it will follow a rigorous measurement and verification process that ensures those savings are realized post-occupancy.

The Old Chapel renovation is the first architecturally significant historic building on campus to achieve LEED Gold Certification, and the 11th project within a sustainable building program at UMass Amherst that includes 10 other facilities totaling approximately 1,155,000 gross square feet of LEED certified space. With six more registered projects undergoing certification, sustainably designed buildings are projected to make up 13 percent of the total UMass Amherst building stock.

Other projects that were recently awarded certification include the Paige Laboratory Renovations at LEED Silver, and the Integrative Learning Center at LEED Gold.

“The LEED Building program exemplifies our commitment to sustainable development principles by lowering carbon emissions associated with construction, and demonstrates our focus on healthy, energy efficient, and durable construction that reduces operating costs and prioritizes sustainable practices,” said Shane Conklin, associate vice chancellor for facilities and campus services. “Our campus and buildings serve as an invaluable educational tool for students to learn from innovative design, construction and maintenance practices that model community sustainability.”

Source: UMass green campus, Aug. 24, 2017

New York’s Hudson Valley Revs Up for Electric Vehicles with New Campaign – Green Transportation – MOTHER EARTH NEWS

While this story is from 2016, aka I wrote it a year ago, I’m still Program Manager with Drive Electric Hudson Valley and we are expanding from this post. 

Here’s a portion of the story. 

The first electric vehicle (EV) consumer education program in the Hudson Valley goes live this fall. For the growing population of consumers who are curious about EVs and want to learn more, Drive Electric Hudson Valley will provide consumer workshops, informational materials, and test drive opportunities throughout the fall.

A project of Sustainable Hudson Valley (SHV), Drive Electric HV is supported in part by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). It’s led by Seth Leitman, author and consumer advocate who reaches tens of thousands on social media and at special events as the Green Living Guy.

Leitman has worked for the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and NYSERDA on developing and implementing major marketing and infrastructure programs for electric vehicles. In addition, he test drives the greenest cars for reviews for other major publications regularly (including Mother Earth New).

Seth will partner with mechanical engineer and clean technology-bilingual outreach expert Hugo Jule to inform and inspire green living and technology enthusiasts throughout the Hudson Valley.
For the entire please visit. 

http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-transportation/electric-vehicle-campaign-zbcz1610