Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Google and IBM receive green data centre recognition

Both IBM and Google received recognition in January for the energy efficiency and energy management of their data centres:

IBM Logo 2 IBM: At the beginning of the month the European Commission (EC) recognised 27 IBM data centres across Europe as conforming to the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centre Energy Efficiency. That covers over 70% of IBM's (strategic) outsourcing data centres in 15 European countries - apparently the largest portfolio of data centres from a single company to receive the recognition (although how many companies have that many data centres across Europe? – ed).

The assessment is made against a set of best practices, including the use of energy efficient hardware, installing free cooling and cold aisle containment. Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is one indicator and in May last year the Uptime Institute gave IBM data centres a rating of 1.65 for average power efficiency, compared to the industry average of 1.8.

Google logo Google: The search engine giant’s achievement has been in the US, where all the company’s owned and operated data centres have received ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification. The company claims to be the first major Internet services company to gain this certification for all of its US data centres. (Do other ‘major’ internet services companies limit such actions to the US? – ed)

The ISO 14000 family addresses various aspects of environmental management and the first standard, ISO 14001, deals with the requirements for an environmental management system. OHSAS 18001 is the British Standards Institution (BSI) specification for Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management Systems. It specifies the requirements for a management system to enable an organisation to control its OH&S risks and improve its performance.

Google says that it has looked to be certified ‘because we want to be the gold standard in environmental and workforce safety, and because we care about the communities where we live and work.’


Commendable actions from both companies. They both come with rather vague claims to market leadership, but we shouldn’t blame them for that. If they can get good PR from it (as they clearly have) then it is an additional reward for the effort.

The problem is that these sorts of initiatives do seem to be led by the major IT services/internet companies, and there aren’t that many of them. They set a good example, and given their size their green efforts do make a real and significant difference, but I don’t see a great deal of trickle-down to smaller IT services outfits.

I’ve always said that one of the most significant things that such companies can do is to be evangelists for green/sustainable ICT, pushing the industry as a whole to do better. I know they do get involved in cross-industry initiatives, but they could do a lot more.

© The Green IT Review


  1. Re: IBM
    IBM have not been awarded anything! They've been paper assessed and have committed to implement as many of the best practices contained within the EU Code of Conduct as they can in a 3 year time period. It is not independently assessed, if they really want to show how energy efficient they are, they can apply for a CEEDA (certified energy efficient datacentre award) from the BCS. Now, that is independently assessed more info here

    1. The original press release from IBM could have been a lot clearer on the point, which suggests this comment may be true. (I wouldn't normally allow an anonymous comment).

      If it is true, then this is much less of an achievement than the company implied and smacks of greenwashing.

      Perhaps IBM will clarify ...