Editor’s note: John Picard is an architect, sustainability design engineer, and entrepreneur with25 years in the green building movement. He is regarded as one of the preeminent environmental consultants in North America. He serves as Aligned Data Centers’ in-house sustainability expert.

When I look back on the seven or eight seminal moments of my career thus far, I don’t focus on the things I designed and built or engineered. I think of the people. People taking bold steps toward making their companies sustainable.

Meeting Aligned founder and CEO Jake Carnemark was that kind of seminal career moment for me. Jake oversees the integrated group of forward-thinking companies that include Aligned Data Centers, Energy Metrics, Inertech, and Karbon Engineering. These companies are dedicated to solving the toughest challenges associated with data center infrastructure, energy consumption, and water usage – with the ultimate goal of substantially lowering data centers’ resource consumption.

Aligned Data Centers approaches this goal in several ways:

  • Evolving the economics of the data center model to pay-per-use
  • Using modular designs that allow customers to build out their space in increments that fit their business needs
  • Delivering an ultra-efficient cooling system

Cooling jumps ahead 100 years

Cooling has been the main culprit behind the heavy environmental footprint of data centers to date. It’s also clear that super-cooled air and water – the way traditional data centers are cooled – is inherently inefficient.

That’s where the magic happens at Aligned Data Centers, which leaves the circa 1910 chiller plant in the past in favor of an ultra-efficient, ultra-reliable new conductive cooling technology. Particularly innovative is the Cactus Cooler™ that rejects the heat outside of the building, operates in passive cooling mode most of the time (even in hot climates) for incredible efficiency gains, and uses up to 80% less water than a traditional chiller plant.

Eye-opening trip to Connecticut

The conductive cooling system is developed in Danbury, Connecticut by Inertech (an Aligned company). When I went there and first saw the conductive cooling system in action, I felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. Imagine that we’re climbing Mount Sustainability. We’re at basecamp and Jake and his team are the oxygen tanks that will get us to the summit in one day.

The conductive cooling system that Aligned Data Centers employs will accelerate the industry toward sustainability. My first thought was, “Aligned has cracked the code…I’m following those guys through the door.” The team at Aligned is a beacon, calling the rest of the data industry to follow. Aligned is going to make this world a better place.


The case can be easily made that Aligned Data Centers employs one of the most highly resource-efficient cooling technologies in the world today. It is destined to help very sophisticated, very complex, data driven companies trying to improve their sustainability reports. It is a true breakthrough, by definition.

This could be a first step in a new industrial evolution that is driven by resource efficiencies. In the next industrial revolution, the gains will go to the companies that mimic nature. Because in nature there’s no waste. The companies that figure out how to waste less will be the most profitable.

I think people will someday look back on this moment and see it as one of the first big, restorative, regenerative physical moves in cooling.

Aligned Data Centers is the first pay-for-use data center provider to offer consumption-based pricing for enterprises, service providers, education institutions, and government organizations who require greater control of their data center.

Learn more about sustainability at Aligned Data Centers: