‘Double green and we give away the residual heat for free?’’

After all, the news­pa­pers are now full of crit­i­cism of the data center indus­try. Together with you, I often find that unfounded. But should the data center indus­try no longer empha­size what has already been achieved and how this bene­fits society?

Huge Progression

In prac­tice, data centers in the Nether­lands have made enor­mous progress in the last 15–20 years. Great strides have been made in reduc­ing energy consump­tion on the infra­struc­ture side of the data center – the support­ing systems such as cooling and UPS. This is expressed in the PUE, the commonly used KPI (key perfor­mance indi­ca­tor) for the effi­ciency of energy use by data centers. The average PUE has fallen from 2.0 and above to between 1.2 and 1.6 in recent times. In other words, those support systems have become more than 60% more effi­cient. A huge saving in money and energy consumption.

Unfor­tu­nately, this is hardly visible to the outside world. Even if you search the inter­net for the bene­fits of a data center for society (the real end user), this is hardly visible. For example, the Dutch Data­cen­ter Asso­ci­a­tion has little or no infor­ma­tion about how data centers contribute to society.


The indus­try should defend itself less against crit­i­cism from the media – well-founded or unfounded – but more opt for a strat­egy that focuses on aware­ness of the crucial role of data centers. Ulti­mately, the energy consump­tion of data centers also has to do with the choices we make as a society. Do we not all make personal choices together to achieve the target for CO2 reduc­tion in the energy tran­si­tion (such as eating less or no meat, flying less or no more, more bicycle and train and less car).

The same is true with regard to data centers. If we want to use less energy in the data center, we all have to do it together. Not only the data center itself, but also the hard­ware suppli­ers, the customers of the data center and the end users at home.

Daily life

To gain more insight into the aware­ness, I asked my chil­dren (15 and 17 years old and a DC is not unknown to them): what if data centers did not exist, how would that affect your daily life?

Calling grandma and grandpa

They soon learned that almost every­thing they do uses an app, their phone, or anything else that is connected to the inter­net, and that in most cases they are connected to a data center. They came up with a nice list:

  • Grandma and grandpa call them via What­sApp, anywhere in the world
  • They main­tain contact with friends with Snapchat, Face­book, YouTube, Insta­gram etc.
  • They use TikTok for fun.
  • For leisure, they play video games with friends at the same time, distance is no problem.
  • They watch movies and series on Netflix.
  • They will check the club app and website for next weekend’s sports game.
  • They buy clothes and groceries in the online shop.
  • Home­work and timeta­bles go through the school app.
  • They take online classes via Zoom.
  • They book their holi­days on a website.
  • They cook from a recipe found on the internet.
  • They take unlim­ited photos and store them in the cloud.
  • Instead of going to the library, they consult Wikipedia

My chil­dren also mentioned that the WiFi and speed had to be good, because other­wise… Their expe­ri­ence abroad is often not good and they are well aware of how good the digital infra­struc­ture in the Nether­lands is.

Give away for free?

My chil­dren are of course not a sepa­rate target group. What applies to them applies to all of us. So let us as an indus­try be proud of what we have already achieved – even though there is still a lot to do – and be good and tell it to the world. Isn’t that a much better story than ‘Double green and we give away the resid­ual heat for free’?

Marco Verzijl

Marco Verzijl

Marco is ruim 15 jaar actief in de datacenterwereld. Van 2005 t/m 2012 bij KyotoCooling bij de ontwikkeling van het Kyotowiel. In 2013 heeft Marco samen met Mees Lodder WCooliT opgericht. WCooliT levert producten en diensten voor het efficiënte datacenter, o.a. op het gebied van fysieke scheiding, turn-key modulair datacenter en 24x7-monitoring.


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