Material & Resource Use
Water Use & Management
Although EMC has a relatively small water footprint throughout our operations, we take a conscientious approach to conserving this important global resource. In our owned and operated facilities, we minimize water consumption and manage wastewater to protect local water quality. Our owned global manufacturing facilities produce no industrial wastewater.
We use various water efficiency and conservation features in our facilities worldwide, such as low-flow plumbing fixtures, rainwater capture systems and free air cooling. We also consider water conservation and efficiency elements when designing and constructing new facilities.
At our headquarters in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, wastewater is reclaimed at an on-site treatment plant which filters wastewater through three treatment and disinfection processes, resulting in treated “gray” water. In 2011, we reused more than 4.55 million gallons of gray water for cooling, sanitation, and irrigation. Unused gray water is returned to the ground through infiltration systems to replenish local watersheds. The amount of water reused was down from over 5.8 million gallons in 2010 due to a 10-week disruption in treatment plant operation while we worked to resolve a quality issue.
At our Massachusetts facilities, which account for more than 25 percent of our corporate physical footprint, we have implemented a stringent Stormwater Management System to help protect and maintain the integrity of the surrounding resources. At these facilities, we have also implemented an Integrated Pest Management program to minimize and eliminate, where possible, the use of chemical herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides. Through diligent management efforts, we ensure a high quality of stormwater runoff from our facilities which minimizes the impact of our operations on natural resources including groundwater and surface water.
In our new Durham Data Center in North Carolina, efficiency design innovations include a rooftop water collection system that has reduced our water usage at the facility by more than 40 percent - one inch of rain on the 450,000 square foot roof equals 280,000 gallons of water. Air-intake plenums around the perimeter of the building and air-side economizers provide free cooling during the months of cool weather - approximately 5,000 hours per year - reducing water consumption required to cool the data center.
Since 2007, we have tracked water consumption data for all of our owned facilities and most of the larger facilities that we lease. We use the World Business Council on Sustainable Development’s Global Water Tool to analyze our operations and calculate our water footprint in water-stressed areas.
Our total 2011 global water withdrawal was 864,149 cubic meters. 81 percent of the water withdrawal data were compiled from reliable water bills and water meter readings. The remaining annual corporate water consumption was estimated using a water intensity factor calculated by benchmarking consumption at metered EMC facilities.
Energy – Water Nexus
We recognize that water, energy and carbon emissions are interconnected. Water is required to generate and transmit the energy we consume, and energy is used to supply the water we use. Our suppliers use water in their operations to produce the material components in our products. Water conservation and efficiency activities save energy and help reduce the carbon emissions generated from these activities.
We also understand that there can be trade-offs between water and carbon emissions. Water and energy are needed to power and cool our own data centers as well as those of our customers, and our wastewater treatment plant consumes energy while reducing our water footprint.
We take a holistic view of energy and water use and the resulting carbon emissions, and thus focus on driving efficiencies in our products and operations. For example, applying free air cooling technology has allowed us to reduce the amount of energy and water consumed in our data centers and labs.
Moving forward, we plan to conduct a deeper analysis to further understand the links and trade-offs between water and carbon emissions. We will use the findings to develop strategies to help minimize our overall impact on the environment.
EMC has incorporated various innovative and efficient technologies to reduce the amount of water needed to cool our data centers. One example is adaptive cooling which is used in all of our storage platforms and reduces blower and fan speeds to cool in proportion to the ambient temperature. We are also leading a shift to Cloud Computing, which is converting Information Technology infrastructure into a highly efficient, shared, dynamic, and flexible service for substantial improvements in power and cooling efficiency. Through dynamic provisioning of resources, the Cloud enables the spread of peak demands across a pool of resources which requires less energy and water to serve the data center’s aggregate needs. Our virtualization software has the potential to greatly improve the energy efficiency of existing data centers/servers by consolidating hardware assets, thereby significantly reducing energy and water consumption, and avoiding the need for additional data center facilities.