Edinburgh University Harnesses Server Heat to Warm Buildings

Edinburgh University has planned to repurpose excess heat generated by its large server rooms to heat student buildings, marking a pioneering step towards decarbonization. Currently, chiller units on the university’s King’s Buildings prevent server equipment from overheating by pumping cool air into the server bays.

However, a new initiative will see the installation of heat pumps to capture the excess warmth from the servers and utilize it to heat the surrounding buildings. 

Edinburgh University innovates by repurposing excess server heat to warm student buildings, pioneering a path toward decarbonization. (Credit: Stock photo via Getty Images)

Supported by approximately £2.1 million from a Scottish government fund dedicated to decarbonizing public buildings, the university aims to pilot the project in King’s Buildings before potentially expanding it to other server rooms across its estate.

Vice Principal Catherine Martin emphasized the importance of capturing waste energy generated by server rooms, highlighting the potential for significant energy savings and reduced carbon emissions.

Edinburgh University secures £2.1 million from Scottish government to decarbonize public buildings.(Credit: Stock photo via Getty Images)

The implementation of heat pumps will involve minimal disruption to the university’s infrastructure, as existing piping systems used to extract warm air from server cabinets will be utilized. The extracted warmth will then be directed to separate pipes supplying radiators and under-floor heating throughout the campus.

Grant Ferguson, Director of Estates and Net Zero at the university, anticipates that the investment in heat pump systems will ultimately reduce heating costs by approximately 8%. He views the project as a pivotal starting point, with plans to replicate the initiative in smaller and larger data centers in the future.

Net Zero Minister Patrick Harvie. (Photo by Ken Jack/Getty Images)

The Scottish government’s commitment to decarbonizing public sector buildings, demonstrated through the £20 million public sector heat decarbonization fund, has paved the way for innovative projects like Edinburgh University’s.

Net Zero Minister Patrick Harvie emphasized the importance of public sector leadership in achieving clean heat targets, underscoring the significance of initiatives that prioritize sustainability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Arit Saha
Arit Saha
Arit Saha, an Economics graduate and budding content writer in Kolkata, deftly merges his passions for economics and global politics. He crafts engaging content weaving economic insights into geopolitical narratives. Contact: [email protected]
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