Another Earth day has passed. While we are a few minutes closer to midnight (http://thebulletin.org/clock/2015), some things are looking up.
While I work hard to save energy in my daily life and in my career choices, sometimes I can feel a little helpless. I know I accomplish some significant things, but then I watch some documentary about the slash in burns in Indonesia, and how they are just complete carbon bombs and it almost feels like whats the point. While I probably can’t get the planet to kick its palm oil habit, I’ll still do everything I can to save water, electricity and money.
I think we are finally seeing the impacts of our actions on the environment, and California and its drought (whether its cyclical or human influenced isn’t the point) are showing the nation the pain of running headlong into running out of a resource. I mean, things are really, really bad there. The drought extends to other areas of the country (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) but the fact is that the state that produces an incredible amount of produce and dairy for the world is running out of water. It’s scary is what it is.
I think we’ve been taking electricity and petroleum seriously for quite some time, but we really need to start taking water seriously. Where we expend lots of water to reduce our electricity usage, we are going to have to start paying attention to the trade off (does the use of water on site offset the use of electricity and its use of water at the source).
We all make trade offs, raising supply air temperatures is a trade off on energy and equipment longevity, using water can be a trade off between even higher inlet temperatures and water consumption, we trade off availability to use energy savings modes in UPSs, and we trade burning dinosaurs for the assurance that the generators we rely on will start when we need them.
Evaluating those trade offs, as a publicly traded company, means measuring the decisions to maximize shareholder value. Using the best data we have and the best, the most thorough evaluations, and prudent brave decision making, the free market will help determine a green path as limited resources become scarcer and more expensive. Taxes and regulation can help ensure that true costs are accounted for (for example, extra taxes on coal burning power to account for the human health costs, the permanent environmental impacts from the coal ash, and the global warming impacts) but they often end up leveraged by particular special interests and fail to represent the true costs.
So how can you win? Well there are solutions that win on all fronts. Using VFDs and slowing down all your fans, for example, is on way to drive down consumption. It represents what I would call a win-win-win, less energy used, less water required for a cooling plant, and ultimately more reliability in cooling plant as the load from the air handlers fans is lower and reserves more capacity for IT cooling. Being smarter and better can help you find these win-win-win situations, and it also makes you look really good to your coworkers.
Just some incoherent thoughts, you know I like to ramble on earth day. Its hard to talk about my work too much anymore (we are very tight lipped at AWS) but I am still out there doing the good work, I promise!