Green data center certification and standard practice are on the rise, with more and more companies placing data centers into environmentally-friendly facilities. This trend seems to be growing in popularity each year, thanks partly to the introduction of new standards such as the Uptime Institute’s Tier IV designation.
In the past few years, the data center industry has seen a growing trend in adopting environmental certifications. These certifications fall into three categories: Green, Blue, and Gold. Although they are similar in scope, each certification has its measurement method.
There are many ways to trim the fat regarding the data center’s energy consumption and carbon footprint. One way is by prioritizing using renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal power. Another is by adopting management systems that reduce the energy used in general.
Green Data Center Certification
The sustainability industry has been growing rapidly over the past several years, and the Green Data Center Certification and Standard Practice is no exception. The Green Data Center Certification was introduced in 2008 and has since enjoyed annual growth rates of nearly 40%. This standard is recognized by some of the most successful companies in the world, including Google, Amazon.com, Facebook, and Microsoft.
Green data center certification is a relatively new concept, but it’s a way for those in the industry to show that they’re doing their part to help the environment. One of the most popular standards are from Uptime Institute, The Green Grid, and ISO .50001.
Certifications such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), and Six-Star GreenStar have given valuable insights into what can be done to make data centers greener.
Green data center certification is a set of environmental standards used to evaluate the environmental impact of IT facilities. Green data centers are useful for many reasons, but mainly for their ability to help a company save money and meet regulatory compliance.
The EPA has several standards for green data centers, the most basic being its Energy Star Tier I standard, which requires that an organization use at least 20% less energy than a conventional facility of the same size.
Other standards include LEED certification, which the U.S. Green Building Council awards to buildings that meet certain sustainable building practices, and ISO 50001 certification, which is awarded by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to organizations that meet certain energy management standards.
Why is Green Certification necessary?
The certification system that matters takes a careful look at all aspects of your business and then determines, based on how well you operate, whether or not your operations have a minimal environmental impact. This is called “assessment-based” certification, and it involves more than getting a certificate; it involves making changes throughout your organization to create a better working environment for everyone.
Green certifications have been created to ensure that the environment is considered during the design process and that there are minimal negative impacts once construction has been completed.
There are many reasons an organization would need to consider going green, but the most important is that it can lead to a lower cost of doing business. In the case of data centers, using green technology can reduce carbon emissions and increase efficiencies.
Green certification is a process of evaluation and verification that data centers obtain to demonstrate their commitment to protecting the environment while meeting standards and best practices.
To be certified as “green” by an official agency, the data center must first undergo a review process to ensure they have met all the required criteria.
Once the data center passes inspection, they are officially given certification. Green Data Centers and their facilities are energy efficient and focus on creating an environmentally friendly space.
The Green Grid’s metrics for measuring energy efficiency
The Green Grid’s metrics measuring energy efficiency can be used to compare the power usage of different data centers.
The Green Grid has developed a benchmarking program that uses four metrics to measure the efficiency of data centers:
- Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER): The EER is the ratio of the total power delivered to the IT load to the total delivered the power of the entire facility. Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) is a metric used by The Green Grid in its Data Center Efficiency Analysis Protocol. It is a ratio of two numbers:
- The first is called ‘power delivered to IT load’ and represents only the power that goes into supporting IT equipment. It is usually called “IT load.”
- The second number is ‘delivered power,’ representing all power delivered to the facility, including lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), etc.
- Energy Usage Effectiveness (EUE), EUE is the ratio of total facility energy use divided by the IT equipment usage.
- Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is a similar calculation that divides the facility’s power usage by IT equipment usage.
- Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE).CUE measures the facility’s carbon footprint as a percentage of its total energy consumption.
The Green Grid has developed a certification process that companies can use to validate their performance under these metrics.
This could help companies differentiate themselves from competitors and save them money over time by allowing them to operate more efficiently than their peers.
GHG Emission Reduction Standard Practice
Reducing potential greenhouse gas emissions is a significant component of data center management. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), data centers are responsible for roughly 2% of total energy usage in the U.S.
The Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Standard Practice is a set of requirements that will be implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). The GHG Emission Reduction Standard Practice is a requirement that all states must follow during the planning process of statewide building projects.
The guide is geared towards mid to large-sized buildings and is full of helpful information, such as reducing HVAC energy use, improving water efficiency, and increasing recycling.
The idea of following this standard is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas we produce to run a data center. To do that, we will have to use energy-efficient equipment and replace some of our machines with new and improved ones. This will not only help us be able to control the amount of GHG emissions but also save on our electricity bill.
The first step in the GHG Emission Reduction Standard Practice is to identify your baseline emissions. Choosing the correct baseline year is essential because you are trying to measure the reduction of future emissions. Your baseline year is used to calculate your goal and measure your progress throughout the life of your project.
During this time, you can also request a large-scale assessment from the statewide emissions inventory manager to provide information on what actions have been taken previously and how they’ve been effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This information will help you determine if any adjustments need to be made to your plan or project design before moving forward.
Most Green Data Centers are designed as Tier-III compliant.
Most green data centers are designed as Tier-III compliant. This is the most stringent data center standard set by the Uptime Institute. This standard requires a data center to maintain 99.99% availability for a full calendar year and undergo auditing by the Uptime Institute; it also requires the use of redundant UPS, generators, and cooling systems.
The Tier-III standard is only appropriate for those who require extremely high levels of scheduled maintenance downtime or have a high-risk tolerance. It is not always necessary or cost-effective to adhere to such strict standards.
Three fundamental principles define what it takes to be Tier-III compliant:
- Reduce power to the absolute minimum
- Reduce waste heat to the absolute minimum
- Remove any excess heat from the facility
The first two points require an almost complete rethinking of how data centers are designed.
The Uptime Institute’s Green Data Center Certification and Standard Practices (GDCCS) defines a set of best practices that keep the data center green. According to the Uptime Institute, by adopting its standards, data center managers can better position their facilities for future ISO 50001 certification.
As far as standard practice goes, all certified data centers have adopted some best practices to improve their green profile. Here are just some of them:
- Encouraging employees to carpool and bike to work.
- Purchasing carbon offsets.
- Using utility company subsidies for renewable energy.
- Specifying shorter payback periods on technology purchases, like servers and software licenses.
In the wake of green data centers, two certifications were developed to ensure the practice was adopted universally. Green Grid was developed by the Green Grid Foundation, a coalition of technology giants such as Cisco, IBM, Intel, and Dell.
This certification focused on creating a framework for companies to use in their design and deployment process. The other certification is called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED. This system is based on a rating scale where companies can rank themselves on energy management, design development, and resource utilization.