Establishing a code of conduct for data centres to improve energy efficiency
- In 2008, the European Commission¹ released a code of conduct for data centres, a voluntary initiative with 184 participants, from businesses such as IBM, BT, HP, Vodafone, Unilever, and the public sector such as the United Nations.
- The goal is to increase energy efficiency in data centres and establish a set of minimum voluntary standards that can serve as the basis for stricter regulation in the future.
- Western Europe’s energy consumption in data centres is expected to double, from 56TWh to 104TWh, by 2020.
- The aim of the code of conduct is to inform and stimulate operators and owners to reduce energy consumption in a cost-effective manner, without hampering the critical function. It aims to establish best practice and a framework of operation for the design, operation, maintenance and retiring of data centres.
- The code of conduct provides a platform to bring together multi-sector stakeholders to discuss and agree voluntary actions to improve efficiency.
- Impact on business: 111 data centres currently participate in this initiative and 232 organizations have endorsed the project. Corporations such as Apple and Google have committed to using 100% renewable energy to power their data centres. The aim of the code is to drive data centres infrastructure efficiency from its current levels of 50% or less at most sites to more like 80%.
- Impact on society: The issue of energy efficiency has been put at the forefront for many senior managers, especially since 14% of disaster declarations in data centres involve power. Similar recommendations in the US could yield $3.8 billion in savings.
- Power purchase agreements are a secure long-term contract between centres and energy providers to buy clean energy from a particular producer, offering financing for renewable energy projects while hedging potential increase in energy prices.
- Google recently added three of those agreements, to reach a total of nine agreements, in their quest of reducing their carbon footprint.
- Other tools include utilities selling “green tariffs”, i.e. energy rate that includes 100% renewable energy targeted at large consumers.
European Commission is one of more than 100 case studies identified as part of the World Economic Forum’s Digital Transformation of Industries initiative. An overview of the DTI program can be found here.
1. Source: EU Datacentre Code of Conduct, Green Peace, WEF/Accenture Analysis