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Carbon Neutral Data Center Solutions: OpenUK, United Nations Seek Open Source Contributions

October 10, 2023 by Joe Panettieri

An open source organization and the United Nations are seeking contributors to develop carbon neutral solutions for data centers.

The effort involves OpenUK, a not-for-profit organization representing the UK’s Open Technology sector across hardware, software and data. Also onboard is the United Nations’ Office of Information and Communications Technology (UN-OICT). Together, the organizations have launched a competition that seeks contributions to a Data Centre Blueprint known as “Patchwork Kilt."

Demand for green data centers -- particularly in Europe -- is surging. Among the proof points: Annual revenue in the European green data center market is expected to reach $12.25 billion in 2028 -- up from $7.94 billion in 2022. That's a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5%, according to Research and Markets. Meanwhile, the U.S. data center market appears to be struggling with green IT transitions, according to Hitachi Vantara research.

Potential Open Source Solutions for Carbon-Neutral Data Centers

With an eye toward those market needs, the OpenUK-UN competition is seeking carbon neutral data center solutions that address:

  • Heat redirection: Develop an open source software solution to monitor and redirect heat produced in data centres.
  • Building repurposing: Participants will create an open source tool to better re-evaluate urban spaces, finding brownfield sites that can be re-used for data centres.
  • Heat reuse: A statistical analysis of open datasets to identify areas to repurpose waste - heat 
  • Circular supply chain: Build an open source software solution that manages the lifecycle of critical data centre components 
  • Blueprint evolution: Analyze the data from Patchwork Kilt for insights into how to supercharge global sustainability efforts. 
  • Community empowerment: Providing communities with actionable insights from data centres that can be used to build more sustainable cities 

The winning Challenge contributor will be invited to celebrate their success with the presentation of a trophy at OpenUK’s Awards Ceremony and dinner at the House of Lords in November 2023, the organizations said.

OpenUK And United Nations Statements: Open Source Data Center Challenge

Chris Lloyd-Jones, chief blueprint officer, OpenUK

In a prepared statement about the effort, Chris Lloyd-Jones, OpenUK’s chief blueprint officer said: “Achieving a sustainable future that benefits everyone is dependent on collaborative action – and this is why we started the Blueprint Challenge. Our collaboration creates a Challenge as a way to open up this initiative to wider contributions and a broader community, allowing new technologies to be included. It’s a critical initiative that can have a tangible impact on the future of data centres."

Lloyd-Jones, by the way, also is head of open innovation at Avanade, the major IT consulting firm backed by Microsoft and Accenture. He's also co-chair at the Green Software Foundation.

Added Salem Avan, director – policy, strategy and governance division at the UN: “Advances in computing power and Artificial Intelligence are generating major technological advances that have the potential to support progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In this context, Open source is key as it is a universal connector, uniting diverse voices through a common language. 

Amanda Brock, CEO, OpenUK

“I'm therefore excited to announce the October Open Source Challenge for Data Centre blueprint as a collaborative effort between OpenUK and the UN-OICT. The significance of open source in data centres cannot be overstated; it fuels innovation, transparency, and cost-efficiency. By harnessing open source technology to efficiently run data centres, we not only reduce our environmental footprint but also contribute to global sustainable development efforts.” 

Concluded Amanda Brock, CEO of OpenUK: “Our UN collaboration has been a great support over the last two years. Yet as with any COP initiative, we must deliver on our promises, working towards long-term impacts through Open Technology and its community. To maximize its longevity, our Blueprint will keep updating in line with technological progress. We are in discussions with prospective partners to usher in its next phase, so all contributions have the potential to have a real, continuous impact on building a carbon-negative data center model.”

Green IT and Sustainable Data Centers: Milestones and Trends

Meanwhile, dozens of hardware, software, cloud and sustainability companies are striving to reduce data center carbon footprints. Example efforts and milestones include:

Sustainable Data Centers: Funding and Build-Outs

Multiple companies are investing in sustainable data centers. Among the milestones to note:

Additional Green Data Center Milestones

Additional worldwide developments include:

RelatedTrack all green data center news here.

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