The importance of building more energy-efficient and eco-friendly homes, offices and public buildings can never be over-emphasized. Fortunately, the awareness created by the “green” movement has made people understand that we need to use our resources more wisely. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a comprehensive framework for identifying and putting into action, practical and measurable steps to make buildings more energy-efficient.
The need for LEED becomes more relevant when it comes to resource-hungry buildings. One of the prime candidates in this category is data centers. We may browse different sites on the Internet and zip through pages without giving much thought to the energy being used by data centers to deliver those pages to our computer screens. But in reality, an enormous amount of energy is used by these buildings to carry out the day-to-day activities. It is not uncommon for data centers to use as much energy as a small town for its regular operations.
Given the fact that very few humans work inside a data center and therefore the need for lighting and temperature control are minimal, it could be intriguing as to why these buildings devour so much energy on a daily basis. The answer lies in the fact that the massive servers running 24/7 at these data centers become incredibly hot and require huge volumes of power to keep them cool.
Data centers that use water cooling can require huge amounts of water everyday for the cooling operation. LEED targets this very issue and aims to minimize the use of precious natural resources through planning and design. Many leading computer giants like Apple, Facebook and Yahoo have certified their data centers under LEED. For instance, Facebook's first energy-efficient LEED Gold data center in Prineville, OR uses 70 percent less water for cooling than an average data center. Apple's LEED Platinum data center in Maiden, NC utilizes outside air instead of water for cooling its facility. Therefore its chillers can be turned off 75 percent of the time.
All of these energy-efficient projects are leading the way in implementing sound design principles for efficient use of limited resources. As more data centers implement LEED programs, energy usage could be considerably reduced, and precious resources like water used more judiciously.