Recently, researchers at the UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA (awesome!) in partnership with Microsoft have released a proposal to use computer servers as sources of heat for a building. With the rise of cloud computing, servers could be placed everywhere, even in a residential home. “If a home has a broadband Internet connection, it can serve as a micro data center. One, two or three cabinets filled with servers could be installed where the furnace sits and connected with the existing circulation fan and ductwork. Each cabinet could have slots for, say, 40 motherboards — each one counting as a server. In the coldest climate, about 110 motherboards could keep a home as toasty as a conventional furnace does.” (NY Times) This system would not only reduce the carbon footprint of conventional furnaces, but it would also cut costs for both the residence and the company hosting the server.
Even if this method is used in office buildings, there would be many benefits. Computer servers currently put a burden on the HVAC system. Even sitting in the computer banks at the architecture school, one can see how much heat a computer puts into the space. By simply changing the systems so that the computer server’s heat output works with the system instead of against it, one could significantly impact the energy use of HVAC systems.
you can read the paper here: