This time around, Google gets to toot its data center horn. The company has announced that all of its U.S. owned and operated data centers have received ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification. So, what does that mean, exactly?
In the case of ISO 140001, the International Standards Organization’s standard for an Environmental Management System (EMS), certification to the standard doesn’t mean an organization has met specific levels of environmental performance. The intention is to provide a framework for a holistic, strategic approach to the organization's environmental policy, plans and actions (according to ISO). You can see more details here. Basically, to be certified an organization has determined its impact on the environment and relevant regulations to the operations of the business, has created a plan to control processes to minimize the environmental impact, is monitoring the effectiveness of the system at meeting objectives as well as legal requirements, and is continually analyzing the results and improving systems. As ISO puts it, an organization has to commit to compliance with applicable environmental legislation and regulations and to continual improvement – for which the EMS provides the framework.
As for OHSAS 18001, it is designed to help organizations manage and control their health and safety risks and improving their occupational health and safety (OH&S) performance. The standard was developed by a group of leading national standards bodies, certification bodies, and specialist consultancies. You can learn more here. So back to Google. In a blog here, Google said it has been working for the last year to bring its facilities to certification. To ensure Google was on the right track, its auditors assessed the firm’s progress as the project ensued. There’s a youtube video talking about the certification (By the way, did you know in at least one of Google’s data centers, some of the ductwork and piping is painted in bright Google colors of red, yellow, green and blue?)
In the video, and blog, Google points to improvements it has implemented on its emergency backup generators. Those improvements include minimizing the run time and need for maintenance as well as working with oil and generator manufacturers to extend the lifetime between oil changes. Google reports that thus far, it has been able to reduce oil consumption in those generators by 67 percent. As for ensuring safety, Google created new procedures for how server batteries are handled, packaged, shipped and recycled.
The dual certifications were awarded to these Google data centers: The Dalles, Ore.; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Mayes County, Okla.; Lenoir, N.C.; Monck’s Corner, S.C.; and Douglas County, Ga. Google says it will pursue certification in its European data centers as well.