Guest Column | October 10, 2022

Tapping Into Growing Demand For Sustainable Data Center Solutions

By Song Lu, Vertiv

3 Engineers IN Data Center

Before the start of each new year, Vertiv identifies the emerging trends that will impact the data center industry in the coming year. This year, one trend stood above the others for its impact across the industry and the value chain supporting it: increased urgency around sustainability and climate change in data center design and operation.

This trend gained traction in 2020 when large operators such as Google and Microsoft set ambitious sustainability goals for their operations. It continued to build momentum in 2021, and this year is poised to become a major driver of technology decisions for a broad range of companies.

Data center infrastructure—the power, cooling, and management technologies that IT systems rely on to achieve the reliability and availability users expect—plays a major role in data center efficiency and sustainability outcomes. In fact, the primary metric many operators use to evaluate the energy efficiency of their data centers, Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), is a measure of infrastructure efficiency. This means infrastructure solutions that can deliver improved energy efficiency and a reduced environmental footprint warrant attention as a major opportunity for solutions providers.

Increasing Power System Utilization And Efficiency

Not long ago, most data center energy efficiency initiatives were focused on cooling systems. Today, operators are expanding their focus to critical power systems and uncovering stranded capacity and inefficiencies.

Solution providers can help them address these issues with power system technologies that are highly efficient, operate at 100% of rated capacity, and have sufficient overload capacity to handle temporary peaks in demand without oversizing. New UPS operating modes are also demonstrating the ability to reduce energy losses in the UPS by up to 50% (depending on utility power quality) while protecting equipment from dangerous power anomalies.

Organizations are also expanding sustainability initiatives to remote and distributed sites. In a recent survey focused on the evolution of edge computing, Vertiv found that 77% of participants had deployed or are planning to deploy energy-efficient UPS systems to support their edge sites. Pairing these UPS systems with lithium-ion batteries can further enhance sustainability. The longer life provided by lithium-ion batteries compared to lead acid batteries can eliminate two to three battery replacement cycles, reducing e-waste. Vertiv foresaw this opportunity and applied its considerable experience and world-class engineering to become a leader in lithium-ion UPS technology.

The survey also found that more than half (57%) of participants were using factory-integrated infrastructure solutions at the edge and 40% were planning to deploy renewable energy to edge sites. Factory integrated micro data center and modular data center solutions can save up to 30% on energy costs while reducing deployment times and enabling greater standardization across the network. Renewable power is key to achieving carbon neutral operations in large data centers and at the edge and infrastructure systems will play an important role in enabling that transition.

Transforming Thermal Management

Thermal management systems are going through a similar evolution with two developments driving change. The first is the growing awareness of the environmental impact of excessive water usage. Water-intensive cooling technologies were once seen as a way to reduce data center cooling costs but are now, in some cases, recognized as unsustainable due to the importance of water conservation. That is leading organizations to move away from these systems and adopt water-free direct expansion cooling systems, which offer energy efficiency similar to indirect evaporative systems while eliminating the millions of gallons of water used by those systems.

The other factor driving change in thermal management is the growth in high-density, high-performance computing (HPC) supporting artificial intelligence and other resource-intensive business applications. This creates challenges for traditional air-cooling methods, which in turn creates demand for high-efficiency liquid cooling. Current deployments are limited to early adopters but there is little doubt the technology will be more widely adopted based on the increased performance and efficiency it delivers. Companies like Vertiv that are helping early adopters navigate the transition to liquid cooling today are gaining experience that will prove essential as high-density racks become more common in the future.

By partnering with manufacturers that have made a commitment to sustainability in their operations and have developed a broad portfolio of infrastructure solutions that enable sustainability, solutions providers can position themselves to capitalize on opportunities created by the trend toward carbon-free and water-free operations. For more information on the Vertiv partner program, visit

About The Author

Song Lu is Director of Channel Marketing, Americas for Vertiv.