Technology Panel

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

30 March 2023 @ 7 - 7:50pm

Link to these web slides: 

Presenters: Hemphill | Hafez | Beshero| Mason

Data Centers and the Environment

What is a data center

“A data center is a physical [location] that houses IT infrastructure for building, running, and delivering applications and services, and for storing and managing the data associated with those applications and services”

Data Storage, Computation - AI

~2,700 in the US, ~8000 in the world

(size dependent - millions)

US International Trade Commission

How does the climate affect data centers?

  • Downtime is costly -
    • need resiliency and redundancy
  • Locate in geographically distinct regions 
    • natural and human inspired disasters (political climate, war)
  • Facility's internal climate
    • temperature
    • humidity
    • static shock
    • fire prevention

How do data centers affect the climate?

  • Energy needs
    • 1.8% of the electricity used in US
    • 0.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions
    • larger carbon footprint than airline industry
  • Water
    • A single data center consumes 3-5 million gallons of water per day
      • town of 30k-50k people
      • 30k-450k gallons per day
    • Data centers in draught stricken regions

Md Abu Bakar Siddik et al 2021 Environ. Res. Lett. 16 064017

"The Staggering Ecological Impacts of Computation and the Cloud" The MIT Press Reader

Sustainable data centers? Very hopeful

  • Investing In Wind, solar, hydroelectric, nuclear energy
  • Google - 24/7 Carbon free goal for 2030
    • Carbon Neutral since 2007
  • Efficient water use
    • Meta reduced water use by 40% over 9 months by lowering the relative humidity in a New Mexico data center - Meta 2021 Sustainability Report
  • Google, Microsoft, and Meta
    • replenish more water than they consume by 2030
    • water recycling, minimize water use, working with local utilities

"Data Centers, backbone of the digital economy, face water scarcity and climate risk" NPR   , Google Environmental Report

Large tech companies invested in a sustainable future

Title Text

The Bright Side

Digital web media

that cares about limited resources


Sustainable Web Manifesto

“If the Internet was a country, it would be the 4th largest polluter” 


The services we provide and services we use will be powered by renewable energy.


The products and services we provide will use the least amount of energy and material resources possible.


The products and services we provide will be accessible, allow for the open exchange of information, and allow users to control their data.


The products and services we provide will not mislead or exploit users in their design or content.


The products and services we provide will support an economy that nourishes people and planet.


The products and services we provide will function in the times and places where people need them most.

Building a website or web application?

  • Design for your users—don't waste their time!
    • Reduce friction in the interface!
    • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Write concisely, apply keywords
  • Reduce code bloat: Simplify, simplify!
  • Reduce dependence on images!
    •  Browsers magnify images! Edit to lower the resolution before posting!
    • Try diagrams / figures / gifs
    • Don't post pictures of text for your banners: style real text!
    • Alt text for SEO and accessibility!
  • Do you really need the fancy dynamic JS framework?

    • Simple static websites (HTML first) have a lighter carbon footprint

  • Find a green web host (like GitHub)


A page within the same site, with high-resolution images

Green Web Hosting

  • TechRadar 2023 recommendations: web hosting companies that purchase energy offsets
    • GreenGeeks
    • DreamHost
    • iPage
    • A2 Hosting
    • HostPaPa

Tech Panel for the Worldwide Climate Justice Teach-In at Penn State Behrend

By Elisa Beshero-Bondar

Tech Panel for the Worldwide Climate Justice Teach-In at Penn State Behrend

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