How Google reduces consumption at their data centers

How Google reduces consumption at their data centers
Updated by Endah

Five things you can do now

At Google, we've spent more than a decade improving the energy efficiency of our data centers, and we've picked up some best practices along the way. Whether you're running a small or large data center, you can apply several simple design choices to improve the efficiency of your facility, reduce costs, and reduce your impact on the environment.
Here are our top five best practices:
Google’s Green Data Centers: Network POP Case Study (PDF)
In addition to the large-scale data centers used to deliver our web services, we maintain several small, network point of presences (POPs). See how we applied some of the efficiency best practices during a retrofit to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  1. Measure PUE

    You can't manage what you don’t measure, so be sure to track your data center's energy use. The industry uses a ratio called Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) to measure and help reduce the energy used for non-computing functions like cooling and power distribution. To effectively use PUE, it's important to measure often. We sample at least once per second. It’s even more important to capture energy data over the entire year, since seasonal weather variations affect PUE. Learn more.
  2. Manage airflow

    Good air flow management is crucial to efficient data center operation. Minimize hot and cold air mixing by using well-designed containment. Then, eliminate hot spots and be sure to use blanking plates (or flat sheets of metal) for any empty slots in your rack. We've found that a little analysis can have big payoffs. For example, thermal modeling using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) can help you quickly characterize and optimize air flow for your facility without having to reorganize your computing room. Learn more.
  3. Adjust the thermostat

    The need to keep data centers at 70°F is a myth. Virtually all equipment manufacturers allow you to run your cold aisle at 80°F or higher. If your facility uses an economizer (which we highly recommend), run elevated cold aisle temperatures to enable more days of "free cooling" and higher energy savings. Learn more.
  4. Use free cooling

    Chillers typically use the most energy in a data center's cooling infrastructure, so you'll find the largest opportunity for savings by minimizing their use. Take advantage of "free cooling" to remove heat from your facility without using a chiller. This can include using low temperature ambient air, evaporating water, or a large thermal reservoir. While there's more than one way to free cool, water and air-side economizers are proven and readily available. Learn more.
  5. Optimize power distribution

    You can minimize power distribution losses by eliminating as many power conversion steps as possible. For the conversion steps you must have, be sure to specify efficient equipment transformers and power distribution units (PDUs). One of the largest losses in data center power distribution is from the uninterruptible power supply (UPS), so it's important to select a high-efficiency model. Lastly, keep your high voltages as close to the power supply as possible to reduce line losses. Learn more.