Data Centre Water Wastage – A Drop in the Ocean?

Typically when we think about water wastage we apply it to scenarios within the home. We could all save water by not using the hose to water the garden so often, or turning off the tap whilst we brush our teeth. However, there are places and companies creating far more water waste than we ever could in our homes – and one such culprit is data centres.

Whilst it may not flag immediately in your mind; data centres use a vast quantity of water each day to ensure that they are both cooled when necessary and kept at the correct level of humidity too. This means that when one room is cooling, and another is humidifying, there is a lot of water wastage.

An article from the Financial Times broached this exact topic, and went on to state that technology companies could be using more than 400,000 litres of water a day. This high consumption of such a necessary commodity is most certainly having a negative impact, and for this reason is something that both technology and companies in other sectors are looking at changing.

WUE (Water Usage Effectiveness)

In 2011 The Green Grid released their equation to formulate Water Usage Effectiveness, a metric that allows companies to start measuring their usage and working towards better water usage efficiency.

WUE = Annual Water Usage / IT Equipment Energy Usage

Through creating and providing this metric, data centres now have a physical number and statistic that they can work towards decreasing. Equally they can use this as a means to promote their efficiency and “green” status when attracting new business.

Washing Away Wastage

With some of the largest IT companies often refusing to get involved in debates about how much water use, and ultimately wastage, they have throughout their data and technology centres; it is clear that something needs to be done to face the issue because it becomes a bigger crisis.

Alternative ways in which to cool and humidify data centres are the obvious routes to take, and with processes like liquid cooling technologies building traction it looks hopeful that companies will look away from the use of water and at something that will hopefully be a little more environmentally friendly.

So, is water wastage throughout data centres just a drop in the ocean? I think the problem is of a much larger scale than anybody would expect and so no, it is not such a small issue after all. But with industries across the globe, such as power plants, using much higher quantities of water than data centres alone – the battle has a long way to go before business full stop is efficient with their water usage.

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