Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Energy Star comes to data centres

Energy StarLogo On the subject of standards (see the last post), PC World in the US has reported that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is nearing completion of the work on an Energy Star program for data centres.

When it’s done, data centres will be able to use an online tool that ranks their efficiency on a scale of 1 to 100. Those that score 75 or higher can request an audit from the EPA, which can then award the Energy Star certification.

This is not an entirely new process for the EPA, which already rates the energy efficiency of 18 types of buildings, including offices and hospitals.  Data centres are somewhat different, though, and the certification process is seen as more incentive-based, i.e. the EPA hopes companies will see an Energy Star rating as a potential marketing tool.

Measurement will be based largely on the widely used PUE (power unit efficiency) from the Green Grid, which measures the total power supplied to a data centre divided by the amount that actually reaches IT equipment.  There are, apparently, some issues about other factors that are not included, but the EPA seems to be open to amendments to the assessment, if required.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out.  As I said in the previous post, green IT standards that are widely accepted and applied are a good thing, particularly if there is no legislation in place.  Energy Star is quite late to the table in this case, though, with the Green Grid already offering lots of advice around data centres and there is also an EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres.  It really depends on whether other organisations defer to the EPA certification.  Given that Energy Star has been widely adopted both in the US and Europe, it has a good chance of broad acceptance as a data centre assessment.

Andrew Fanara, who leads the program at the EPA, is quoted in the PCWorld article as saying that avoiding a patchwork of regional programs is important, especially for multinational companies.  I couldn’t agree more.

The EPA hopes to launch the Energy Star certification for data centres in June.

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