New services could help data centres cut energy use by half

IBM green data centre

A new building standard for data centres and an advice service from the Carbon Trust could help UK data centres cut energy use by half.

BRE Global says it has made “far reaching” revisions to the BREEAM method for assessing the environmental performance of buildings to tailor it to data centres.

The new BREEAM Data Centres 2010 scheme has been developed with a number of organisations including Digital Realty Trust, HSBC, Hewlett Packard and EDF Energy, using their ‘real world’ experience.

The standard uses both the data centre infrastructure efficiency (DCiE) and power usage effectiveness (PUE) metrics to gauge the energy efficiency of data centres, alongside the usual building regylations.

“We estimate that by designing and building a data centre to BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard, energy use can be cut by more than half compared to a conventional new build facility,” says BRE Global CEO Carol Atkinson.

An ‘Excellent’ rated data centre would have a PUE of 1.55 or higher, according to BRE, making it two to four times more efficient than comparable ‘typical’ data centres.

If reaching that level sounds a challenge, the Carbon Trust are launching a new design advice service to help owners, designers and operators plan a new facility or refurbish or alter an existing data centre.

The Carbon Trust piloted the Design Advice programme with a multi-billion pound data storage and processing facility in Scotland.

By maximising the flow of air to keep components cool, using local renewable energy sources (including a biomass power station and wind farms) and reusing the heat generated on an adjacent business park, the Lockerbie Data Centre is expected to have around half the energy use and operating costs of a typical date centre of a similar size.

“Now that the design service has been successfully road tested in what is expected to be one of the largest and greenest data centres in the world, we are very keen to offer our experience to other developers,” says Hugh Jones of the Carbon Trust.

“Low carbon design in new build and refurbishment projects has the potential to unlock hundreds of millions of pounds in energy bills each year,” he adds.

The 272,000 m2 Lockerbie Data Centre, for example, is expected to save £85 million a year across the whole development compared with a conventional set up.

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Related stories:
EPA launches Energy Star label for data centres (8-Jun)
International agreement on efficiency metric for data centres (7-Apr)
Green Grid launches online efficiency tools for data centres (9-Feb)

06 July 2010