ICT Sustainability

Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future

An Online Graduate Course & Book by Tom Worthington MEd, FACS CP

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This is an excerpt from: Best Practices for the EU Code of Conduct on Data Centres, European Commission (2008).

Introduction from the code:

This Code of Conduct has been created in response to increasing energy consumption in data centres and the need to reduce the related environmental, economic and energy supply security impacts. The aim is to inform and stimulate data centre operators and owners to reduce energy consumption in a cost-effective manner without hampering the mission critical function of data centres. The Code of Conduct aims to achieve this by improving understanding of energy demand within the data centre, raising awareness, and recommending energy efficient best practice and targets.

This Code of Conduct is a voluntary initiative aimed to bring interested stakeholders together, including the coordination of other similar activities by manufacturers, vendors, consultants and utilities. Parties signing up will be expected to follow the intent of this Code of Conduct and abide by a set of agreed commitments.

Environmental Statement Electricity consumed in data centres, including enterprise servers, ICT equipment, cooling equipment and power equipment, is expected to contribute substantially to the electricity consumed in the European Union (EU) commercial sector1 in the near future. Western European electricity consumption of 56 TWh per year can be estimated for the year 20072 and is projected to increase to 104 TWh per year by 2020.

The projected energy consumption rise poses a problem for EU energy and environmental policies. It is important that the energy efficiency of data centres is maximised to ensure the carbon emissions and other impacts such as strain on infrastructure associated with increases in energy consumption are mitigated.

Problem Statement

Historically, data centres have been designed with large tolerances for operational and capacity changes, including possible future expansion. Many today use design practices that are woefully outdated. These factors lead to power consumption inefficiencies. In most cases only a small fraction of the grid power consumed by the data centre actually gets to the IT systems.

Most enterprise data centres today run significant quantities of redundant power and cooling systems typically to provide higher levels of reliability. Additionally IT systems are frequently run at a low average utilisation Over provisioning, ensuring availability and associated costs were previously considered a negligible risk to business performance because energy costs were relatively small in comparison to the IT budget, and environmental responsibility was not considered to be the remit of the IT department. However, with rising energy prices this is no longer the case, and the issue of energy consumption at the individual data centre level is becoming increasingly important as operational energy expenditures and ecological impact of the energy consumed begins to play an ever important role in overall cost of ownership of data centres.

Preliminary evidence and the increasing willingness of manufacturers and vendors to compete on the basis of energy efficiency in data centres confirms that there are efficiency gains (for example simply by using existing power management technologies) still to be realised without prohibitive initial costs that can lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Businesses are also becoming increasingly aware of their environmental impacts and the need to reduce these.

Many data centres operators are simply not aware of the financial, environmental and infrastructure benefits to be gained from improving the energy efficiency of their facilities.

Even awareness does not necessarily lead to good decision making, simply because there is no framework in place for the operators to aspire to. Making data centres more energy efficient is a multidimensional challenge that requires a concerted effort to optimise power distribution, cooling infrastructure, IT equipment and IT output.

Many activities have been initiated within the industry and there are numerous vendor specific products and services on offer. However, there is a risk of confusion, mixed messages and uncoordinated activities. Independent assessment and coordination - tailored to European conditions such as climate and energy markets regulation - is required to lower the barriers of access to and application of these energy saving opportunities.

A voluntary scheme within the EU such as the Code of Conduct will provide a platform to bring together European stakeholders to discuss and agree voluntary actions which will improve energy efficiency.

To help all parties address the issue of energy efficiency, data centre owners and operators, data centre equipment and component manufacturers, service providers, and other large producers of such equipment will be invited to participate in the Code of Conduct, by signing this Code of Conduct.

This Code of Conduct proposes general principles and practical actions to be followed by all parties involved in data centres, operating in the EU, to result in more efficient and economic use of energy, without jeopardising the reliability and operational continuity of the services provided by data centres.

  1. The commercial sector is also referred as the tertiary sector and it includes both private and public building hosting data centre. In this case energy consumption of data centres of companies in the industrial sector is included.

  2. This is based upon the Draft UK Market Transformation Programme European Enterprise Server installed base model, and assumes an upper bound ratio of 1:2 between electricity consumed by the server equipment within the data centre or server room, against that consumed by cooling equipment and through power losses. The lower bound ratio of 1:1 gives total electricity consumption close to 37 TWh. The upper and lower bound ratio is based on several different sources of measurements of electricity consumption in the data centre.

  3. These include the US DoE, the US EPA Energy Star, the Green Grid association, Climate Savers Computing Initiative, the IEEE E-Server project ...

From: Best Practices for the EU Code of Conduct on Data Centres, European Commission (2008).

Next: National Carbon Offset Standard.


About the book: ICT Sustainability: Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future

Edition Notice

ICT Sustainability is about how to assess, and reduce, the carbon footprint and materials used with computers and telecommunications. These are the notes for an award winning graduate course on strategies for reducing the environmental impact of computers and how to use the Internet to make business more energy efficient.

Copyright © Tom Worthington, 2017

Second edition.

ISBN: 978-1-326-96794-9. (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-326-95850-3. (Paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-326-95849-7. (ePub eBook)
ISBN: 978-1-326-96791-8. (PDF eBook)

Cover shows Power on-off symbol: line within a circle (IEC 60417-5010).

These notes have been used for the courses:

  1. Green Technology Strategies: offered in the Computer Professional Education Program, Australian Computer Society (first run as "Green ICT Strategies" in February 2009),
  2. ICT Sustainability (COMP7310), in the Graduate Studies Select program, Australian National University (first run July 2009), and
  3. Green ICT Strategies (COMP 635), Athabasca University (Canada). Adapted for North America by Brian Stewart.

Course materials available free on-line, under at Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license at http://www.tomw.net.au/ict_sustainability/