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The Environmental Burden of Data Centres: A Screening LCA Methodology
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The Environmental Burden of Data Centres: A Screening LCA Methodology

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Session 9 Paper 3, CIBSE ASHRAE Technical Symposium, Imperial College, London, UK
18th and 19th April 2012

 

Data centres are high energy consumers and have the fastest growing carbon footprint in the ICT sector. There is therefore a growing need to reduce their environmental burden on the planet. Current assessment methods include data centre metrics, which focus on single issues during their operation; and building environmental assessment methods, which consider multiple issues for the whole facility. Efforts to improve efficiency in one life cycle stage, for example in operation of the data centre, can – positively or negatively - impact on other stages; a picture which is difficult to fully understand with these methods. By applying a screening Life Cycle Assessment, this paper describes a methodology that enables engineers at early stages of the design process to quantify multiple environmental impacts, throughout the full supply chain of a data centre. Information from an existing data centre is used as a vehicle for the study, and a discussion looks at further work required to improve the process.