California declared drought emergency on January 17, 2014 (link)
As California is experiencing the record drought, Gov. Jerry Brown urges a 20% cut in water consumption; mandatory conservation measure could also be coming
NBC: California governor declares drought emergency, asks for conservation
Time California shuts major water supply as drought worsens (an unprecedented move)
“Businesses have been ordered to cut water use 35%” in certain areas (source)
Sacramento and Folsom have issued mandatory water usage restrictions (source)
Parts of 11 states, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah, are designed as drought disaster areas (source)
Our cloud is thirsty!
While it has been well known that data centers are huge energy hogs, data centers also leave an astonishing water footprint! It
was estimated that a 15MW data center employing cooling towers as its heat rejection mechanism
may directly consume up to 360,000 gallons of water each day for cooling (excluding the indirect
water consumption embedded in electricity generation). Needless
to say, water scarcity has already become one of the biggest challenges in every continent, affecting billions of people worldwide.
Extended droughts and water
shortage are threatening every asepct of our lives, in particular, the energy sector: e.g., the U.S. state of North Carolina saw
blackouts in 2007 because of water-related cutbacks by Duke Energy, and the record drought in Texas
has seriously challenged the electricity generation in some of the power plants. With the rising water demand,
if we don't act to save water today, we'll soon
come to a critical point where water won't be as readily available as now!
(Project Link: Here)
Why should we care about data centers’ water footprints? Here're some simple facts.
Green certifications: The 2013 survey by Uptime Institute shows that a vast majority of the 1,000 data centers surveyed are actively seeking green certifications (e.g., LEED by U.S.
Green Building Council), which often carry tax credits as well as other benefits. For these green certifications, energy efficiency is just ONE component;
water conservation is another key factor and often a prerequisite!
Requirement: In view of the increasing water demand and extended droughts, the U.S. government requires water consumption (per capita) by all federal facilities be reduced 2% each year through 2020. Federal data centers are key contributors.
Similar regulations/laws are also being enacted at state and/or city levels (e.g., California, New York City).
Forward looking: Water consumption is anticipated to exceed the supply by 40% in 2030, and the forward-looking IT industry is taking active steps to reduce water footprints
to avoid operational risks. For example, AT&T is working with Environmental Defense Fund to reduce the annual water consumption of its large facilities (e.g., mostly, data
centers or with a large number of servers/equipment) by 150 million gallons by 2015.
See California's drought emergency
S. Ren, “Optimizing Water Efficiency in Distributed Data Centers,” International Conference on Cloud and Green Computing (CGC, acceptance
ratio: 19/80=24%), 2013. [PDF]
Note: This paper preliminarily demonstrates the feasibility of scheduling delay-sensitive workloads among different data centers for optimizing water usage effectiveness, defined
as the water consumption per unit IT energy (like power usage effectiness factor). This paper does not minimize or cap the actual water consumption.
M. A. Islam, K. Ahmed, S. Ren, and G. Quan, “Making Data Center Less ‘Thirsty' via Online Batch Job Scheduling,”
Tech. Report, 2013. [PDF]
Note: This technical report explores time diversity of water usage effectiveness to dyanamically “backfill” delay-tolerant batch jobs
in a single data center to minimize the combined cost, incorporating electricity cost, water consumption and carbon emission.
Shaolei Ren received the B.E. degree in Electronic Engineering from Tsinghua University in
July 2006, the M.Phil. degree in Eletronic and Computer Engineering from Hong Kong
University of Science and Technology in August 2008, and the Ph.D. degree in
Electrical Engineering from University of California, Los Angeles, in June 2012.
Since August 2012, he has been with Florida International University,
where he currently holds a joint appointment of Assistant Professor in the School of Computing and Information Sciences and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Dr. Ren directs the Sustainable Computing Group at FIU. His research centers around cloud computing and data center resource management,
with an emphasis on sustainability. He received the Best Paper Award at
the 8th International Workshop on Feedback Computing, the Best Paper Award at
IEEE International Conference on Communications in 2009, and was selected by
IBM T. J. Watson Research as one of the 10 Emerging Leaders in Multimedia and Signal Processing in 2010.