Customers: Uptime Trumps Green

Ted Samson at InfoWorld’s Sustainable IT reports an interesting wrinkle in 365 Main’s development of a LEED-certified data center in Newark, Calif. 365 Main put considerable effort into a plan to power the facility using generators running on natural gas. The company estimated the gensets would cost $25 million, pay for themselves over time, and save 20,500 tons of carbon per year. 365 Main planned to use the generators as the primary power source, with the local electric grid providing backup power.

There was only one problem: customers rejected the idea, even though it would have meant no additional cost. The reason? By the company’s calculations, the natural-gas-powered generators alone could deliver only a 94 percent guaranteed uptime. Although grid backup would bring the uptime projection to 99.8 percent, customers were unwilling to support a greener solution if it had even a fractional slippage on uptime guarantees.

365 Main abandoned the plans, but expects to have its Newark site certified as a LEED building. 365 Main’s Miles Kelly said it illustrates the challenges of making IT greener. “Everyone talks about the beauty of the intersection between business needs and green,” Kelly told Samson. “Here we are bringing a real option to the table with tangible benefits, and all of a sudden, we’re back to using traditional energy sources.”

The bottom line message from customers appears to be this: Green is great. Just don’t get any of it on my uptime.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.