Google got much attention in recent weeks for its efforts to be one of the first among U.S. data centers operated by major Internet service companies to be certified to meet specific environmental and occupational safety standards. The company’s senior director of data center construction and operations took to an online video to share details about Google’s quest to be the gold standard in data center efficiency, environmental protection, and the health and safety of its employees that are operating these data centers.
Certainly, much of this PR blitz was an effort to dilute the truce Facebook and Greenpeace reached after the social networking giant was targeted by the environmental advocate for getting more than half of its energy for its data centers from coal. Not to mention, Google touting its environmentally friendly record and certifications is a good tactic for avoiding being the target of a Greenpeace campaign. While, Facebook eventually agreed to clean up its act, commit to renewable power and get off coal, Google’s fossil fuel use is less transparent. According to Greenpeace, about one-third of Google’s power today comes from coal.
While the certifications Google received are commendable, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 focus more on operational practices in the data center than power sourcing. These standards are put in place to help businesses control occupational health and safety risks, rather than to establish an unrealistic standard of perfection.
But over the pond in the UK, Europe’s largest Tier 3 facility, Next Generation Data, has had ISO 14001 environmental best practices since early 2010 and is the first data center in Europe, and perhaps the world, to be 100% renewable energy based. In fact, we announced our move to 100 percent renewable sourcing in June 2010, a full two years ahead of both Google and Facebook, and with no pressure from Greenpeace. With its industry-leading Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating, state-of-the art power management and cooling technology and the first in Europe to commit to using 100 percent renewable energy, NGD is a leader in maintaining an environmentally friendly data center. NGD has also received ISO 27001 (security best practices from a physical and IT data management perspective) plus ISO 9001 Quality Management certifications and BREEAM environmental compliance.
We view ourselves as a true pioneer when it comes to adoption of eco-friendly standards and best practices and the gold standard for health and safety in the data center. In fact, Jones Lang LaSalle, the global leader in commercial real estate services with more than 1,000 energy and sustainability accredited professionals on staff, summed up our commitment to green data center practices nicely when they shared in 2010, “NGD is breaking the mold on its all-out commitment to renewable energy.”