EC launches green datacentres code of practice

The European Commission has launched a code of conduct for datacentres, in an effort to tackle their increasing power consumption, and minimise the related environmental, economic and energy supply impacts.

It was back in February, that the European Commission said it was considering introducing a voluntary code of conduct on energy efficiency for datacentre operators.

The code has now been formally launched, and was welcomed by Lord Hunt, Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation, who is hoping to encourage datacentre operators to adopt the code.

"If we are to tackle dangerous climate change, we need to reduce emissions and the decision businesses make play a key role in meeting this challenge," he said. "By signing up to this new Code of Conduct companies can save energy and save money too, which goes to show that what's good for the environment is good for business."

Datacentres are thought to be responsible for almost 3 percent of electricity use in the United Kingdom, and as the UK is the first country in the world to set legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the British government is hoping the Code will help it achieve the ambitious target of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2050, as well as avoid a looming 'energy crunch' that has been touted by some.

The government thinks that the Code should help save 4.7 million tonnes of CO2 over the next 6 years. This is equivalent to taking more than a million cars off the road. Indeed, Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) will be seeking compliance for the main IBM datacentre used by Defra systems within the next 12 months.

Backers of the Code tout the fact that it was developed in close collaboration with the industry, including the British Computer Society (BCS).

"The BCS believes that Code is an important step in developing an effective understanding of IT energy use and the development of best practice to improve efficiency," said Bob Harvey, chair of the British Computing Society Carbon Footprint group.

The Code is a European wide voluntary initiative aimed to develop energy efficiency performance standards for datacentres. Participants are expected to commit to implementing a subset of expected best practice and to annually report energy consumption. This might mean companies decommissioning old servers, reducing the amount of air conditioning they use, or maximise the use of a server by running multiple applications.

A number of organisations have already indicated their intention to sign up to the Code, including Quest Software and IOMart. Meanwhile The Green Grid (a consortium pushing energy efficiency in datacentres) has publically indicated its support.

Earlier this week, analyst house Gartner came up with its own list of best practises in the datacentre, designed to save electricity and improve cooling.

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