Europe’s most eco-friendly and sustainable data centres have recently been honoured with the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres award.
As the digital age progresses, data centres have emerged as the pillars supporting our interconnected society, ensuring a smooth exchange of data. Yet, their high energy consumption has sparked discussions about their environmental footprint and the sustainability of their energy sources.
The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) introduced the EU Code of Conduct (CoC) for Data Centres in response to these concerns. This commendable initiative motivates data centre proprietors and managers to embrace strategies that cut down energy use and champion sustainability.
Data centres in the European Union (EU) are significant energy consumers, accounting for 1.4-1.6% of the EU’s total electricity usage, which translates to roughly 40-45 TWh.
While these statistics might not appear dire, it’s imperative to actively reduce energy requirements to meet the ambitious goal of Net-Zero emissions by 2050. To align with this vision, data centres should aim to slash their greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.
The EU CoC for Data Centres employs the Power Utilisation Effectiveness (PUE) metric to gauge a data centre’s efficiency. PUE is the ratio of the total power input of a data centre to the power used by its IT equipment. A lower PUE indicates a more efficient facility, with the ideal being a PUE close to 1.0.
Towards a Greener EU Data Infrastructure
At present, the average PUE for EU data centres stands at 1.6, with some even exceeding 2.0. By consistently tracking PUE, operators can pinpoint inefficiencies and introduce specific energy conservation solutions.
Centres that effectively integrate the CoC’s best practices and achieve noteworthy energy savings qualify for the annual EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres Awards.
2023 Honorees this year, the following data centres have been lauded for their exceptional performance from 2020 to 2022:
Grenoble Alpes University‘s IMAG data centre in France achieved a PUE of 1.25 by means of direct free cooling and ground water to produce cold water.
DATA4’s facility in Milano, with the use of direct free cooling and cold air containment, it measured a PUE of 1.40, despite the hot climate of the region
T-Systems’ Biere_1 and Biere_2 centres in Germany boasted a PUE of 1.375 through the implementation of 87 best practices, including cold aisle containment with highly efficient airflow and heat recovery for heating office and storage space.
Atos data centre Longbridge, UK, achieved a PUE of 1.16 by implementing 92 best practices, including free cooling, DC lighting with LED and lights dimmed to 10% for efficiency & safety, only activated by motion detection. Data centre Birmingham, UK, with 107 implemented best practices, such as free cooling and the replacement of old UPS units to increase efficiency from 95.1% to 96.1%, resulting in a PUE of 1.508. Data centre Fuerth, Germany, with a PUE of 1.42, thanks to measures like white space cooling optimisation (WSCO), which entails intelligent (AI) air handler fan speed adjustment, free cooling and waste heat usage for office space heating, which replaces traditional oil heating with heat pumps using DC heat as energy source.
Interxion Deutschland GmbH, for its FRA 08, FRA 10, FRA 12 and FRA 13 data centres, Germany, where the implementation of 103 best practices lowered the PUE values to 1.45, 1.29, 1.187 and 1.135 respectively.
Microsoft Gavle GVX01, Sandviken GVX11, and Malmö MMA01 data centres, Sweden, all recording a very low PUE of around 1.2, with the implementation of several best practices and free cooling.
This initiative by the EU underscores the importance of sustainable practices in our digital age, paving the way for a greener future.