By: Nathan Wisehart, Data Center Manager
In 2007, when Involta was founded, leadership put energy efficiency at the core of the business, differentiating Involta by prioritizing operational sustainability in an energy-intensive industry. Data centers consume 3% of the world’s power, and with the proliferation of data in every sector, the impact will continue to grow quickly.
Data centers will always be energy consumers, and while we can’t eliminate our impact, we can undoubtedly implement strategies to minimize our overall footprint. At Involta, we tackle sustainability at every level of our organization. We work together to make incremental improvements, and we stay focused on our environmental commitments. Overall, we prioritize five key sustainability strategies for data centers:
Keeping data centers cool is no small task. In fact, it’s one of the biggest challenges data center companies face today. By taking a multi-pronged approach to cooling, Involta has made significant energy reductions at our 12 purpose-built colocation data center locations.
In 2017, we partnered with DuctSox®, the leading manufacturer of fabric HVAC air dispersion systems, to develop DataSox™, the industry’s first customizable, porous/diffuse fabric ventilation system. Replacing traditional metal ductwork with DataSox has delivered a 40% reduction in airflow, improved air distribution and consistently cooled temperatures among the data racks—all adding up to significant energy and cost savings.
Involta’s Victory View data center in Boise, Idaho, recently received a 2022 Idaho Award for Leadership in Energy Efficiency in the buildings category for reducing energy consumption by more than 1.3M kWh (which translates to a savings of over $100K!). The compound impact of several initiatives generated these results:
- Redirecting airflow to allow for energy-efficient cooling
- Installing air conditioning units with variable frequency drive fan motors
- Installing two 500kW uninterrupted power supply (UPS) units with Lithium-Ion battery backup
Involta has also recently invested in direct liquid cooling (DLC), which, when implemented in tandem with effective air cooling strategies, improves power usage effectiveness (PUE) and energy consumption in high-density data centers.
Strategic Site Selection
Technology generates heat—and a lot of it. That means data centers, which house racks upon racks of servers and equipment will, by definition, require copious amounts of energy to maintain operations. In addition to implementing the key cooling strategies above, Involta has also chosen to expand largely in secondary markets in traditionally milder climates. Situating our data centers in Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Idaho was a deliberate strategy that has allowed us to leverage cooler outside air temperatures for most of the year to decrease our indoor air cooling needs.
Renewable Energy Consumption
Whenever possible, Involta prioritizes energy from renewable sources. In northern Minnesota, we source energy from Minnesota Power/ALLETE, a clean-energy leader that, under its innovative EnergyForward strategy, currently delivers 50% renewable energy today, with a vision to provide reliable, affordable, 100% carbon-free energy to its customers. In other markets, where utilities are deregulated, Involta is dedicated to partnering with providers who share our commitment to sustainability.
ENERGY STAR Certification
Involta is proud to have achieved ENERGY STAR Certification for Data Centers at our Technology Drive data center in Duluth, Minnesota. This facility has received this distinction for four consecutive years and operates in the country’s top 25% of data centers in energy efficiency. We are pursuing certification again this spring. We’ve consistently improved our Energy Use Index (EUI) score and have set the bar high for energy-efficient operations. We’re currently in the process of setting benchmarks for all Involta data centers and will be working toward achieving ENERGY STAR certification across the board.
Small Scale, Big Impact
We also find that it’s important not to overlook smaller sustainability strategies that add up to a significant impact. Across all of our data center locations, we’ve implemented LED lighting and occupancy sensors that help us maximize efficiencies in lighting. All faucets are touchless, which decreases water usage. We’ve also invested in e-cycling programs that help reduce the amount of hardware waste in landfills.
A More Sustainable Future for All
At Involta, we are committed to creating a more sustainable future for all. This requires a collective effort, and we are grateful for our customers who share our vision, as well as our dedicated and forward-thinking team. By implementing sustainable practices across all our data centers and pursuing an overarching sustainability strategy, we are proud to be a leader in sustainable data center operations. Our commitment to decreasing the environmental impact of our industry is unwavering, and we remain steadfast in our mission to deliver reliable and secure services while minimizing our carbon footprint.