17% of the carbon footprint of all technology companies comes from their data centers. For example, data centers in the United States alone are set to consume 73 billion kWh by 2020. Most of this usage comes from cooling. Fortunately, these tech giants are also looking for new and enterprising ways to reduce their impact on the environment.
One method is to use alternative sources of cooling. One good example is Google, who cool their data center in Finland using cold seawater. The seawater passes through heat exchangers that flow through the building. Since the water in Finland is cold, it works as the perfect cooling method. Also, there are rainwater capture systems which the company uses for cooling. Google is not the only one looking at renewable sources of energy and cooling; Apple is also close to 100% renewable energy for its data centers.
Another approach is to use machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to optimize data center control systems. The process is to optimize as much of the operation of the data center, down to which servers are brought online and which ones are powered down to server which load. Google is said to have reduced operational inefficiencies by as much as 12% when using machine learning.
Companies like Google and Apple are mindful of their impact on the environment and our future generations and are pushing the envelope on using technology to make their data centers more efficient.