EPA and USDA join forces over food waste





Posted by Rick Lingle, Technical Editor — Packaging Digest, 6/5/2013 5:21:11 PM



EPA-USDAEnvironmental Protection Agency acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe joined U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (shown) on June 4 to announce the launch of a challenge that asks farmers, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities and government agencies to reduce wasted food. The U.S. Food Waste Challenge builds upon the success of EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge to help more Americans do their part to reduce food waste.


“Food waste is the single largest type of waste entering our landfills — Americans throw away up to 40 percent of their food. Addressing this issue helps to combat hunger and save money, while also combating climate change. Food waste in landfills decomposes to create potent greenhouse gases and by reducing this waste we can in turn reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Perciasepe. “I’m proud that EPA is joining with USDA today to announce the U.S. Food Waste Challenge. With the help of partners across the country, we can ensure that our nation’s food goes to our families and those in need – not the landfill.”


“The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste,” says Tom Vilsack. “Not only could this food be going to folks who need it – we also have an opportunity to reduce the amount of food that ends up in America’s landfills. By joining together with EPA and businesses from around the country, we have an opportunity to better educate folks about the problem of food waste and begin to address this problem across the nation.”


More food waste than paper and plastic


Americans send more food to landfills and incinerators than any other single municipal solid waste (MSW) – 35 million tons- even more than paper and plastic. When wasted food is sent to landfills, it decomposes and becomes a source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. In addition, the production and transportation of food has a number of environmental impacts; by reducing wasted food our society helps conserve energy and reduces environmental impacts.


In 2010, EPA began challenging organizations along the food lifecycle to adopt more sustainable practices through its National Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) program’s Food Recovery Challenge (FRC). EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge provides direct technical assistance, a tracking system, and recognition to help support and motivate organizations to reduce their food waste. Through the simple act of measuring food that is wasted, organizations can immediately identify simple changes that lead to big reductions More than 200 organizations are now participating in the Food Recovery Challenge.


More on the U.S. Food Waste Challenge: www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/index.htm








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Excellence in Reusable Packaging award





Posted by Jack Mans, Plant Operations Editor — Packaging Digest, 5/7/2013 1:59:57 PM

The Reusable Packaging Assoc. is accepting submissions for its second annual Excellence in RA - RPA - ReusableAwardLogo- rrr.jpgeusable Packaging Award. The award is designed to recognize companies that have developed, supported, or implemented measurable and innovative reusable solutions in a business-to-business supply chain. Non-members as well as members of the RPA are encouraged to enter. Submissions will be reviewed by an independent committee of judges who are not members of the RPA.

“The award gives us another opportunity to highlight the measurable economic and environmental benefits of reusables,” said Jerry Welcome, President of the RPA. “Last year, we had a nice array of submissions from different markets and also from companies outside the US. We strongly encourage end users and suppliers from all industries to enter the competition.”

The deadline for submissions is Aug. 21, 2013. Eligible companies must have participated in the reusable packaging industry as of September 1, 2012. Companies will be judged on the quantifiable environmental and economic benefits of their reusable packaging solutions and services. Herman Miller Inc. won the award in 2012 for its reusable packaging initiative that is saving the company $46,000 annually in material and labor.

Submission forms are available at the RPA website http://reusables.org/2865/general/rpa-accepting-submissions-for-second-annual-excellence-in-reusable-packaging-award

The award is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Reusable Packaging Machinery Institute (PMMI) and StopWaste.Org. The winner of the award will be announced during PACK EXPO 2013 in Las Vegas.





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Mohawk Recognized as One of the Greenest Organizations in the U.S.

At Mohawk, North America’s largest privately-owned manufacturer of fine papers, envelopes and specialty substrates for commercial and digital printing, every day is Earth Day.  

In recognition of Earth Day 2013, Mohawk announces it has been named to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s national list of 100% Green Power Users list for the seventh year in a row.  Mohawk is ranked among other leading renewable energy purchasers including Intel, Whole Foods Market, Staples, the US EPA, Union College, and the Empire State Building.  Mohawk continues its membership in the EPA’s Green Power Leadership Club which it has held since 2005.

“We are pleased to again be recognized by the EPA for our environmental and sustainable business practices.  As a paper manufacturer, we have always understood that our dependence on basic resources such as water, wood fiber, and energy creates a unique responsibility for environmental stewardship. We continually examine every aspect of our business with the objective of minimizing our environmental footprint in every way possible. Environmental responsibility is at the core of Mohawk’s ethos,” said Michelle Carpenter, vice president, Environmental and Energy Stewardship, Mohawk.

The EPA defines “green power” as renewable energy sources with the highest environmental benefits: solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, some biomass, and low-impact small hydro.  The 100% Green Power User designation means Mohawk purchases green power at a level matching 100% of on-site electric use, and reducing the environmental impacts of conventional electricity use.

Earth Day 2013 Initiatives
As a company, Mohawk will recognize Earth Day 2013 by encouraging employees to participate in the company’s third annual Earth Day clean-ups. Employees at all Mohawk locations will be encouraged to clean up community areas outside of their workplaces.

In addition, Mohawk will continue its support of charity: water via customer incentives on the company’s retail site.  Beginning on Earth Day, Mohawk will match all charity: water donations made during check-out. Customers currently have the option to donate $5, $10 or $20 – so all donations will now be doubled thru 4/30/13, courtesy of Mohawk.  For more information about charity: water, visit http://my.charitywater.org

Committed to a Cleaner, Healthier Environment
As a leader in environmentally and socially responsible business practices, Mohawk was the first U.S. manufacturer of commercial printing papers to match 100% of its electricity with wind power renewable energy credits and the first U.S. premium paper mill to shift toward carbon neutral production. Mohawk’s portfolio of recycled papers is certified by Green Seal and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Mohawk began participating in the Green Power Partnership with the company’s first windpower REC purchase in 2003.  In 2005, Mohawk began to match 100% of the electricity used in manufacturing operations with RECs.  This practice has continued to the present day. 

Mohawk is proud to be an environmentally and socially responsible business, and takes pride in the company’s numerous environmental partnerships and certifications, including longstanding alliances with:

Walking the Talk
Environmental commitment, social responsibility and corporate stewardship are woven into the fabric of Mohawk’s culture and business practices.

Mohawk’s management believes that business and industry have the creative capital and financial incentive to find innovative solutions to the most pressing environmental issues of our day: climate change, depletion of natural resources, and dependence on fossil fuels.

From simple activities like desk-side recycling, to designing and providing a unique Environmental Calculator on the company’s website, to complex decisions about manufacturing techniques, energy choices and vendor selection, nothing is left unexamined by Mohawk, a company that truly walks the talk when it comes to its environmental commitment.

For more information about Mohawk’s environmental and sustainable business practices, visit http://www.mohawkconnects.com/company/environment.

For more information on EPA’s Green Power Partnership, visit http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/partner100.htm

Mohawk is North America’s largest privately-owned manufacturer of fine papers and envelopes which are preferred for commercial and digital printing, photo specialties and high-end direct mail.  Mohawk fine papers and envelopes include the signature brands Mohawk Superfine and Strathmore, as well as proprietary treatments Inxwell and i-Tone. With a culture of innovation, Mohawk’s business model now extends beyond paper manufacturing into new areas of growth, including digital substrates and web-based software platforms, which connect designers and printers to new markets. 

As a leader in environmentally and socially responsible business practices, Mohawk was the first U.S. manufacturer of commercial printing papers to match 100% of its electricity with wind power renewable energy credits and the first U.S. premium paper mill to shift toward carbon neutral production. Mohawk’s portfolio of recycled papers is certified by Green Seal and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Mohawk is a fourth-generation, family-owned and operated business based in Cohoes, New York, with global sales and operations located throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

Editor’s Note: This post was shared by a member of the Package Design community. Do you have news to share with our readers or a package design project that you are especially proud of? Click here to learn how you can become a contributing member of the Package Design online community.

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Why a Portable Water Purification System Tops Bottled Water

Why a Portable Water Purification System Tops Bottled Water

A lot of people are wasting hard-earned dollars when they drink bottled water instead of purchasing a simple portable water purification system. The money that you save by switching to a carry along system would simply astonish you over the course of a year or two. Not to mention, your water would be safer.

Most people mistakenly believe that the water they are drinking is safe, because the bottle advertises it as pure, natural spring water. This advertising gives people a kind of false comfort; they believe the water’s purity has been tested independently. However, pure water is definitely not what the bottled water companies are selling you. Only the promise of pure water.
I can say with confidence that a portable water purification system is a better choice for drinking on the go. With this type of filtered system, you are guaranteed to remove lead, chlorine, and a great number of other chemicals from your water. With bottled water, you are only guaranteed to have no idea what is going into your body.
Federal regulations for bottled water state that it has to be as safe to drink as tap water, but not any safer. How comforting is that? What you are buying is probably ordinary tap water that has simply been filtered to eliminate odor. Yes, there have been maximum contaminant levels set for bottled water, but the Environmental Protection Agency rarely enforces them.
Another thing that you will never have to worry about with a portable water purification system is BPA or phthalates. BPA and phthalates are polymers used in the production of both hard and soft plastics. These carcinogenic agents seep out of the plastic of your store-bought bottles during storage and transport, and end up in the actual water in the bottle.
What you want to do is use a product that is BPA and phthalate free, which is exactly what a filtered bottle offers you. There are filtered sports bottles that you can buy that are rugged and inexpensive. Or you can purchase a top of the line model with a set of three cartridges for only .95.
A portable water purification system is the perfect answer for the car, the office, or the gym. Anywhere outside of your home you can have access to water that is clean and safe to drink. While at home, I encourage to enjoy clean, pure water by installing a high quality home water purification system for the entire family.
Purchasing a portable water purification system maximizes water safety for everyone in the family. You can guarantee that your family is safe from contaminated water no matter where they are.

Are worried about your drinking water being unclean and unhealthy? Zach Zimmerman has been researching water purification methods for several years. Visit his webpage Natural Purified Water to discover how to select the very best water filtration system for your home or office.

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Mark Dwight from Rickshaw Bagworks describes the process of recycling plastic bottles into fabric for making messenger bags for a grade school class project.

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Bottled Up and Ready to Go, Is Bottled Water Safe?

Bottled Up and Ready to Go, Is Bottled Water Safe?

In the past year, the bottled water industry has experienced a shake up with environmental groups and several U.S. cities taking initiatives to curb the consumption of bottled water. Among these cities are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Santa Barbara, California, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. These cities have also banned the use of plastic bottles at city-sponsored events, removed them from restaurant menus, and campaigned to drink tap water. However, the bottled water category remains resilient and is standing up to the controversy, as sales and consumption of bottled water have been reported to be on the rise. Studies have shown that seventy-five percent of consumers drink both tap and bottled water, and are not replacing municipal drinking water with bottled water, but instead choosing bottled water as an alternative to other beverages containing caffeine, sugar, or other artificial flavors and ingredients.

Many people have heard the talk of bottled water being unregulated. However, the FDA actually already regulates bottled water products and has been developing regulations covering identity and standards of quality, which determine the maximum levels of chemical, physical, microbial, and radiological contaminants that are allowed in bottled water. The FDA has also adopted many standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of public drinking water. Both bottled drinking water and tap water share many of the same standards when it comes to the contaminants that are allowed in drinking water.

The enhanced water industry is continually growing as members continually pursue and tweak brands to shape this category. With players in the industry including Coca-Cola, Cadbury, and Pepsi, many different types of enhanced and flavored waters have entered into the market. There are many niche brands that have also entered the market as they add new flavor profiles and innovative products. Additionally, the market for bottled water that is tailored for children is catching on. The trend of water for kids consists of waters fortified with nutrients that help round out their diets. Parents seem to be looking for organic, healthier options when it comes to their children, so it is important for retailers to offer kids’ products that the primary purchaser, which is normally the female head of household, would consume, trust, and understand.

Environmental concerns are also raising red flags over the amount of plastic water bottles that are being properly recycled. A report form the Container Recycling Institute (CRI) stated that 96% of single-serving plastic water bottles do not get recycled because they are frequently consumed on the go. With the national recycling rate for all plastic water bottles being just 23.1 percent, bottled water is even lower with the CRI estimating that about four billion plastic bottles ending up in the waste stream.

In response, some companies are introducing new beverage bottles with less plastic included that will help to eliminate some waste from the environment. It seems as if the bottled water industry will continue to deliver new innovations and controversy for many years to come. Providing a variety of products that address a consumer’s stance on the above issues is important for retailers.

More information on health and wellness is available at VitaNet ®, LLC Health Food Store. http://vitanetonline.com/

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HGTV Green Home 2009 ? What Makes it so Green?

HGTV Green Home 2009 ? What Makes it so Green?

This year’s HGTV Green Home is as green & beautiful as ever. Fans across the country have been entering to win the HGTV Green Home grand prize package valued at 0,000. The contest ends on Friday, June 5, 2009 at 5 p.m. This year’s home, located in Tradition, FL, received a significant Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and earned the Indoor airPLUS label from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The 2009 HGTV Green Home, a 2,430-square-foot contemporary Spanish-style cottage which features construction and design elements that contribute to an energy efficient, cleaner and healthier living environment, will be presented to one lucky viewer during a special broadcast on Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The Platinum LEED certification signifies that the HGTV Green Home – from countertops to floors, to windows, to lighting, and everything in between – meets stringent standards for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, indoor environmental quality and innovative design. LEED for Homes, a voluntary rating system, is a project of the U.S. Green Building Council.

To earn the Indoor airPLUS label, a home must meet strict guidelines set by the EPA for reducing poor indoor air quality and have third-party verification. The 2009 HGTV Green Home includes more than 30 additional design and construction features for moisture control, radon control, pest barriers, improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, combustion pollutant control and low emission materials. These features help protect the homeowners from a host of health problems associated with poor indoor air quality, including eye irritation, allergies, headaches, and respiratory problems such as asthma. As an Indoor airPLUS qualified home, the HGTV Green Home also meets guidelines for energy efficiency set by the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program.

Just looking at the kitchen, it’s a calm and uncluttered space and, for an eco-friendly home, & interior designer Linda Woodrum wouldn’t have it any other way. “I wanted an almost Asian feeling that was very clean and not overdone,” she explains.

The walls, covered in glass mosaic tiles, punctuate the cooking space, which features streamlined espresso-colored cabinetry and sleek stainless-steel hardware and fixtures. CaesarStone quartz countertops, in a shade of bold black and crafted from recycled material, add a hint of sparkle and continue the green story, as they are naturally antimicrobial as well as mold- and heat-resistant. This type of countertop is ideal for eco-friendliness and food safety, because of its nonporous, durable, & recyclable materials – it is easy to clean and never has to be sealed.

Check your local listings for the watching the HGTV Green Home Giveaway, and for more information on CaesarStone quartz countertops visit www.caesarstoneus.com.

Offers finest quality Concrete Custom Countertops, Vanities, Formica Countertops, Dupont
Countertops, Granite Kitchen Countertops also built using Natural Quartz and Marble.For more details please visit: http://www.caesarstoneus.com/

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What Will Happen if You do Not Recycle Plastics

What Will Happen if You do Not Recycle Plastics

Many people don’t pay attention at all to the need to recycle still others recycle to a certain degree but don’t put too much effort into the job . But not enough people are recycling plastics. Then the question lies with: “What will happen if you do not recycle plastics? So, lets take a good hard look at what is happening in the recycle world now .

All types of recycling ins growing including that of plastics , but only a very small percentage of all plastics are recycled.The above statistic taken form the United States Environmental Protection Agency . This statistic says that only about 7% of plastics are recycled . Such a small percentage is due to not all plastics being accepted in a community recycle program . So even if you aren’t worried about what will happen if you do not recycle plastics, you should,and these are the reasons why .

Only about 50% of the cities in the United States have any type of recycling program in place and of those few have one for plastics , on top of that, each community chooses the type of recycle program they want to implement and the type of plastics they will support and often this only includes bottles . Most of these communities only have curb side pickup, and otherwise want you to drop off your plastics at certain locations . Of these communities only certain ones will accept plastic bottles and leave all other plastics to be tossed in the trash.

What will happen if you do not recycle plastics
Now that you know that only a small percentage of plastics gets recycled and that not every plastic is recycled, now lets find out what happens to that plastic when we don’t ask the question: What will happen if you do not recycle?. All of this plastic ends up in the landfill , and becomes waste and affects the environment in a negative way.

Just as recently as the 1960´s plastic only made up 1% of a communities waste, that number has increased to about 12% which is 120 times more than it was . Most of this plastic is unrecycled plastic bottles and bags, with about 38 billion water bottles being in the landfill.

What else will happen if you do not recycle plastics?
A lot of unrecycled plastics end up becoming litter, which in the end costs more to clean up. It looks terrible and is dangerous to wildlife. More and more animals are killed by litter every year.

But the biggest answer to the question: What will happen if you do not recycle plastics? These plastics cause new plastics to be needed and created , and this results in more oil and natural resources need to be used to create new plastic.

Lawrence is a recycling expert and writes about eco-friendly products that can help better the environment. You can see more on how to recycle and be environmentally friendly at www.HelpTheEnvironmentByRecycling.info

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Why its Important and What Will Happen if You do Not Recycle Plastics

Why its Important and What Will Happen if You do Not Recycle Plastics

There are still tons of people don’t pay attention at all to the need to recycle and others do a so…so job of separating their paper. This means out of all the items being recycled not enough people recycle their plastics . So, what will happen if you do not recycle plastics? So, lets take a good hard look at what is happening in the recycle world now .

All types of recycling ins growing including that of plastics , but only a very small percentage of all plastics are recycled.The above statistic taken form the United States Environmental Protection Agency . This statistic says that only about 7% of plastics are recycled . And this is because not all types of plastic can go into a community recycling program. This means that if the question “What will happen if you do not recycle plastics doesn’t concern you, it should ,and these are the reasons why .

Only half of the communities in the United States have a recycling program for plastic, but even then each community decides on the type of program they want to support and the type of plastics they will recycle. Most of these communities only have curb side pickup, and otherwise want you to drop off your plastics at certain locations . Of these communities only certain ones will accept plastic bottles and leave all other plastics to be tossed in the trash.

What will happen if you do not recycle plastics
Ok, so now that we have established that there is only a very small amount of plastics that get recycled , now lets find out what happens to that plastic when we don’t ask the question: What will happen if you do not recycle?. All of this plastic ends up in the landfill ,these landfills are filling up fast with human waste, and plastic and this has a negative impact on our environment .

Just as recently as the 1960´sthere was only about a 1% plastic consumption and therefore plastic waste , and now it is about 12 %. A lot of this plastic is unrecycled plastic bottles and bags, and about 38 billion of those being water bottles.

What else will happen if you do not recycle plastics?
A lot of unrecycled plasticsbecomes litter on streets and highways too , which in the end costs more to clean up. This litter looks awfull and is also dangerous for area wildlife . These animals get their heads stuck in these bottles, or their paws, or something happens.

But the biggest answer to the question: What will happen if you do not recycle plastics? These plastics cause new plastics to be needed and created , which means more energy and natural resources being used to make new plastic items, which then get thrown out shortly thereafter again. For more information on answering the question: What will happen if you do not recycle plastics? come to www.helptheenvironmentbyrecycling.info

Lawrence is a recycling expert and writes about eco-friendly products that can help better the environment. You can see more on how to recycle and be environmentally friendly at www.whatdoesitmeantorecycle.info

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Is Bottled Water Safe?

Is Bottled Water Safe?

Many people drink bottled water because they think it’s safer and healthier than tap water. But this isn’t necessarily so.

Billions of dollars are spent on advertising campaigns to give consumers the perception that bottled water comes from pristine mountain springs or pure underground aquifers. The truth is that bottled water is often little more than tap water in a bottle. There are no government standards that require bottled water to be any better, purer or safer than tap water.

Bottled water, because it’s defined as a “food” under federal regulations, is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while tap water is regulated under much stricter standards by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Companies that sell bottled water do not have to divulge to consumers the water’s source, how the water has been purified, and what chemical pollutants the water may contain. A report released in July 2009 by the General Accountability Office (GAO) found that the FDA has little power to regulate the safety of bottled water, and that even states with the power to regulate it concentrate more on tap water.

You also need to be aware of the fact that all plastic bottles leach plastic byproducts, like phthalates and BPA, into the water. The longer water sits in a plastic container, the more contaminated the water will become.

The reality of bottled water is that you pay from to a gallon for the perception of higher quality, when in fact the quality of bottled water is at best an unknown.

Another issue to consider when it comes to bottled water is the environmental impact. 86% of plastic water bottles used in the United States end up in landfills, taking up to 1,000 years to biodegrade. And large amounts of fossil fuel are used to manufacture, transport and refrigerate bottled water.

So what do you do if you decide to cut back on or stop drinking bottled water, drink more tap water? Even though it’s more strictly regulated than bottled water, tap water still contains trace amounts of toxins, and there’s also the risk of lead and bacterial contamination. And tap water can oftentimes taste and smell bad.

A water filter is the only way to ensure that the water you drink is clean and free of contaminants. It’s an economical, convenient and environmentally friendly way of getting truly healthy water that tastes great. I’ve been using a water filter for several years, and I highly recommend using one.

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A Case Study of Energy Efficient Business and Green Practices

A Case Study of Energy Efficient Business and Green Practices

Interview: Green Initiatives and Energy Conservation in a Modern Atlanta Datacenter

Author: Jeff Hinkle of Global Net Access   (AtlantaNAP)

The ‘Green Initiative’ has become a critical focal point for data centers around the world due to the high payoffs associated with efficiency and the impact on operations these can have. It has become very important to find ways to reduce and manage operating costs due to the modern datacenter’s increasing power needs and the recent instability of energy costs.  As an added benefit, these efficiencies offer incredibly positive environmental impacts while improving energy efficiency.

With the increasing competitive environment, limited resources and increased focus on preserving the environment for future generations, the green benefits of energy conservation are no longer a secondary consideration for server and colocation datacenters. Businesses are now waking up to the importance of aligning themselves with their consumer market through an image of environmental responsibility.  In addition, datacenter managers and owners themselves have become concerned consumers and bring their own motivations to the workplace for improving datacenter energy efficiency and green practices.

AtlantaNAP energy efficiency background and current tests and findings

Established in 1994, our Atlanta data center the AtlantaNAP has been incorporating energy recycling and other green practices from the day of ground breaking on the 65,000 square foot facility.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Energy Star have teamed to develop high standards of energy efficiency for modern datacenters and the server technology they employ.  Starting in January 2009, Energy Star began the data collection process for developing an Energy Star Rating for data centers.  With the many green initiatives AtlantaNAP has implemented, and with more in the works, we’re confident that our main Atlanta colocation hub, will pass their rating standards with flying colors.  Read on for details about the creative energy recycling systems AtlantaNAP has put into practice, as well as our further green initiatives for the coming year.

Current Energy Efficiency Strategies Deliver Big Results

With over 6000 servers in the Atlanta datacenter (current installed capacity of  4 megawatts of power and 2000 tons of cooling), you can bet that AtlantaNAP puts energy efficiency at the top of its list of priorities.  From day one our team started working on ways to get the most for the energy dollar, while keeping server performance at peak.

Creative Heat Recycling Applications

The Offices

When the Atlanta datacenter building was first constructed, AtlantaNAP included heat pumps from the onset to move BTUS from our data center directly to the company offices for heating.  From day one we have never had to utilize an outside source of heat such as electricity or natural gas to burn for heat; that’s a 50% energy savings for the AtlantaNAP offices!

The extraction of heat from the data center cooling towers results in greater efficiency of server operation, and a decrease in energy waste.

The Generator Room

AtlantaNAP has created an innovative, energy efficient system for heating the diesel generators that must be kept warmed up and ready to start immediately in case of a power outage.  Block heaters (we use lighter duty than what would be found in northern climates to save money during the warm months) use warm water to keep the generators warmed up and ready for action.  A facilities audit resulted in recommendations for additional auxiliary heat in the Atlanta datacenter generator room, since this area must always be open via louvers to the outside air, even in deepest winter and going to larger block heaters for the whole year in the southern climate would have resulted in excessive power usage during months when the temp was above 35 degrees.

The AtlantaNAP solution was to put outside dry coolers to a unique use (normally mounted on datacenter roofs) by mounting two 20 ton units in the generator room.  Venting was set up to move excess BTUs from the data center through this dry cooler system to the generator room, effectively raising the temperature without use of any natural gas or heating oil.  The only additional energy use is the small amount of electricity to generate fan motor output.  As seen in the office heating system, AtlantaNAP heat recycling once more results in a nearly 100% energy savings for the generator room since the dry coolers offset work on the cooling towers.

Again, the cooling towers now run more efficiently due to the moving of excess heat away from the datacenter servers.  Research and functional testing has shown repeatedly that running servers at less than 80% of capacity results in substantial energy savings and significant increase in the life of the equipment.  Heat moving and recycling from the datacenter to the offices and generator room keeps AtlantaNAP servers running beautifully at less than 70% of full capacity.

Generator Testing under full load to save fuel and raise system reliability

AtlantaNAP tests generators comprehensively every two weeks with a full switch over of the complete datacenter server load to the diesel generator system and off the AC power, which is rarely done by other server hosting companies.  This virtually ensures the safety of the emergency data backup system in case of power outage due to a live real time test of the gen sets under controlled conditions. It also uses the fuel of the generators to actually power the facility instead of simply wasting it by running the generators and the utility at the same time. It is critical to know if you are going to have a problem under load when your gen sets are needed and that is why we run them real time under supervision – so that we can switch back to utility when we know its there if we encounter a problem. You want a gen set to fail when you don’t need it and can get it repaired in an non emergency situation vs. it failing when you need it and causing a catastrophic failure like we have seen so many times with those facilities that don’t test real time.  The environmental impact of this is that it takes the load off the utility and actually uses the fuel instead of wasting it by not running under transferred load.

Datacenter Air to Air Free Cooling System Delivers Significant Energy Cost Savings

AtlantaNAP is currently testing air to air exchange via a roof fan system that has been installed in the main datacenter consists of six fan intakes drawing air from the outside, which is then drawn through the data center and out of the facility via one large outtake fan.  Currently this is an on/off system with our Atlanta datacenter staff monitoring inside temperature via the main service panel and turning fans on or off according to these readings.

There is no cold / hot isolation in the testing environment due to the minimal investment for the tests.  We believe that isolation of hot aisle output and venting directly to the outside will significantly increase the efficiency numbers.

Our preliminary measurements show a substantial A/C cooling energy savings of 6%, translating to serious dollar savings as well.  Server cooling is a large expense for all datacenters and any savings in this realm are always welcome; a 6% decrease in energy costs is by no means small.

During the process we have found that following issues that must be resolved before the system can go into automatic operation:

– Pollen is too small for the current filters – we are looking at a high flow filtration that will trap pollen.

– During exceptionally cold / low humidity days the embedded humidification systems can not keep up and a supplemental humidification system must be installed and tied to the building computer with a failsafe monitoring in place to govern the air to air exchange.

– Mixing of air in general in the facility is not optimum for maximum btu exchange.

Upcoming 2009 Initiatives for the Datacenter Cooling System:

With the great energy saving results seen so far with this first incarnation of the cooling system, we knew that even greater energy efficiency was very achievable.  For this next phase of our green initiative, we expect to see at least a 10% energy savings—good both for the environment and the AtlantaNAP wallet.

Computer-Optimized Datacenter Cooling

‘Hot Aisle’ Enclosure

The second part of the enhanced energy conservation plan is to enclose the ‘hot’ aisles of the datacenter, where server heat raises temperatures to around 110F?.  A vent system will be constructed to directly move this very hot air to the system’s outtake fan.  This will result in two benefits:

1.  This excess heat is removed from contact with other datacenter equipment so that their operating efficiency is not affected.

2. This heated air causes an artificial differential between inside and outside air so that the new computer-optimized cooling system will kick in even if the outside air is around 85 or 90 degrees. It is still more cost-efficient to cool 90 degree air than 100 degree air.

The Hinkle Benchmark: Making the Case for Newer more Efficient Servers

As President of our growing Atlanta dedicated server and colocation datacenter, it became very apparent to me that a clear, workable measure was needed in order to demonstrate, to clients and colleagues, the real energy savings gained from implementing newer, more efficient server technology.  It had long been apparent to the core AtlantaNAP team that server consolidation and the retirement of outdated equipment would result in serious cost savings, as well as making better use of the Earth’s limited energy resources.  The question was how to illustrate those energy savings in a clear and easily quantifiable manner.

The answer came with a mathematical tool I created which we dubbed the Hinkle Benchmark.  This energy efficiency formula allows AtlantaNAP to illustrate and justify consolidation of servers and retirement of outdated technology to the computer recycling facility.  The newest server equipment is highly energy efficient, lasts longer, and saves our clients substantial money. Energy cost savings begin evidencing rather quickly; clients don’t necessarily have to wait for ‘long term’ savings effects.

The benchmark is calculated by summing all of servers’ Passmark score and dividing it by the manufacturers stated watts used per chip and then dividing this number by the total number of servers. The resulting metric will give an indication of the relative use of power compared to the overall delivery of computational power.

We use this as an ongoing target to encourage the retirement of older computer assets and to be mindful of the implementation of new assets based on how effective it is at delivering computational power.

We have decided not to deploy atom processers based on the impact on our benchmark score for example as their low cpu to energy efficiency – while some of our competitors have rushed to do this for profit reasons.  We are also aggressively pursuing virtualization to increase the score as well.

Consumers will want to look at their provider’s score and hopefully choose a Data Center that is committed to improving in this area.

Dedicated server and colocation clients should look at a provider’s Hinkle Benchmark and choose a data center committed to improving energy efficiency.  This equation also allows AtlantaNAP to evidence to clients the need to upgrade their server equipment.

We challenge our competitors and other users to adopt this benchmark to measure their efficiency and we grant use of it for free to anyone willing to pick up the challenge.

Green Initiatives beyond Energy Conservation

While increasing the datacenter’s energy efficiency is of the highest priority, AtlantaNAP is also committed to other datacenter green initiatives that decrease our company’s impact on Earth’s resources and fragile ecosystems.  Our company is full of conservation-minded individuals who bring their green ideas to the ATLANTANAP table.  We’ve worked to reduce our carbon footprint and to recycle at every opportunity.  The facility has been mentioned in many green tech websites including: http://www.sustainablewebsites.com/green-data-center.

Global Access Network (AtlantaNAP) uses no natural gas or heating oil in datacenter operations.

This is just sound business practice and something most of us believe in as citizens of the planet.

We recycle virtually every scrap of cardboard.  A local community member in need of the income picks up cardboard and transports it to the local recycling station.  We recycle all scrap metals, mostly steel and copper.  All old server equipment is picked up by a local area computer recycling company.  AtlantaNAP has significantly reduced packing materials that are unnecessary by requesting that vendors ship new equipment in bulk packaging whenever possible.  The Gaylord boxes we use allow us to receive up to 20 servers in a single box on one pallet with no extra packing material inside.  This practice has cut our packaging waste by nearly two thirds!

Well Water on Site:  Self Sustained Cooling and Zero Stress on City Water Resources

ATLANTANAP has its own well dug on the property for cooling our server equipment.  We are not dependent on the town and put no strain on city resources.  In case of any local or national disaster, we have our own power and water resources, ensuring the total safety of our clients’ data. This saves on chemicals in the treatment process and the electricity to move the water throughout the system to our facility. The water also gives us the benefit of geothermal cooling since the water comes out of the ground at an average temperature of 50 degrees F which gives us free cooling when we add it to our system.

Fire Safety

It goes without saying that our datacenter is virtually paperless in operation and, whenever possible, communications happen electronically rather than via paper-based mail or fax systems.

Our Atlanta datacenter is made almost completely of concrete, even the floor tiles, and almost nothing burns.  Very few combustible materials of any kind has been used in the facility. ATLANTANAP uses double interlock pre-action based sprinkler systems that do not harm human beings or the surrounding environment. Our mantra is to not provide the initial ignition or fuel source, thereby preventing the fire in the first place.

Closing Thoughts

The green initiatives our modern datacenter has put in place are already yielding excellent savings in the energy realm and with the plans we have for 2009, the AtlantaNAP team is excited to see just how far we can take this efficiency challenge.

About the Author and Company

The author, Jeff Hinkle, is President of Global Net Access (GNAX) and highly invested in green initiatives and the conservation of our planet’s resources. Jeff has a long and deep history in creative datacenter and networking solutions. The author can be reached for questions and comments at jhinkle@atlantanap.com. GNAX can be found at www.Gnax.com

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