Green Data Center Should Consider ISO 14001 and ISO 50001

Jan 4, 2023 | Development

While the definition of a “green data center” is still a relatively new concept, there are still steps that data centers can take to become more environmentally friendly. Data center professionals should consider two necessary standards: ISO 14001 and ISO 50001.

What are ISO 14001 and ISO 50001?

Many organizations are implementing strategies to decrease their carbon footprints, such as those outlined in the Green Grid’s Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) initiatives. To further reduce the impact of data centers, organizations should consider applying for ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 certifications.

A new trend in the data center industry has been the increasing popularity of ISO 50001, an international standard for energy management. This standard is both a basic and an advanced energy management framework that works to reduce the impact of data centers on the environment.

Working with ISO 50001 has many advantages for data center operators, and it is quickly becoming the global standard. If a data center wants to operate efficiently, it must manage its energy use by first implementing ISO 14001.

What is ISO 14001

The most widely recognized international set of standards related to environmental management is ISO 14001. It’s a widely implemented framework that helps organizations establish a proactive and systematic approach toward minimizing the environmental impacts directly or indirectly on their operations.

ISO 14001 is a quality management system standard focusing on environmental management related to a company’s operations. It provides guidelines on how to improve environmental performance within an organization, and it can help businesses become more efficient in their environmental practices. This certification can also give businesses a competitive edge by allowing them to reduce waste and energy use.

ISO 14001 is based on the premise that organizations can identify critical environmental aspects, measure their impacts, analyze opportunities for improvement, and continually improve performance using the ISO 14001 framework. Achieving ISO 14001 certification requires meeting specific requirements by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It could be used as a benchmark for measuring an organization’s progress in terms of its environmental strategy.

What is ISO 50001

ISO 50001 is the energy management standard based on ISO 9001:2008 quality management system requirements for energy efficiency in an organization’s processes, products, and services. The purpose of this standard is to provide energy managers with guidance on managing energy consumption more efficiently through a systematic analysis, planning, implementation, and verification process.

The ISO 50001 standard can help data centers become more efficient by improving the energy control processes of information technology equipment and systems used in data centers. This standard can measure the consumption of energy resources (such as electricity, gas, and water) and identify areas where we can improve its efficiency. By implementing this standard, data centers can achieve energy targets while reducing their carbon footprint.

Green data center standard

A data center is considered green if it meets all four of the following criteria:

  1. Reduce energy use intensity using renewable energy sources (consumable fuel cells are not allowed).
  2. Reduce peak demand power requirements by using on-site generation or optimizing load and deferring peak uses.
  3. Reuse heat generated by IT equipment to warm office space or heat water.
  4. Achieve maximum feasible recycling of IT equipment components and materials.

Green Grid Standard

In 2012, the Green Grid released the Sustainability in Data Centers program. The program’s purpose is to create a set of guidelines that data centers can use as benchmarks for building green, sustainable data centers. Their goal is to ensure that data centers are environmentally responsible and follow a set standard so everyone can be held accountable.

To create a data center that meets the standards, you must accomplish specific steps and be able to prove them. The first step is to determine how a sustainable data center is defined. This will help you determine how you can transform a data center into something sustainable. The second step is identifying the energy efficiency and green energy sources available for your data center.

It’s essential to find out if there is access to clean power from renewable resources at an affordable cost. The third step is designing a plan for how your company will make these changes happen. It includes figuring out who will do the work and finding any additional resources needed for improvement. Finally, performance measurements need to be done to show how effective your efforts have been toward sustainability.

The Uptime Institute Standard

the Uptime Institute emphasized the importance of a building’s environmental footprint and its critical impact on business. The standard is based on six areas of operation, which are taken into account by a green data center certification process and can be applied to existing and new facilities. The sections address site selection, energy efficiency, cooling and heating, renewable energy, sustainable operations, IT equipment, and sourcing.

  • Section 1 – Site selection: Several criteria are used to determine whether a site is appropriate for a green data center. Among these, the most central issue is power availability and reliability. An additional consideration for those selecting sites for new facilities is proximity to major metropolitan areas that can provide skilled workers.
  • Section 2 – Energy efficiency: The most significant source of electricity costs in any data center comes from powering the IT equipment. Other sources of energy use include building infrastructure, including HVAC systems and lighting. Most importantly, potential savings are found in using efficient power distribution technology.
  • Section 3 – Cooling and heating: Data centers are large buildings that need a lot of air conditioning or heating to keep them running smoothly.

An environmentally sustainable data center has been a top priority for many businesses for years, and the race for greener standards is still in full force. Some of the most common certifications regarding data center efficiency are ISO 14001 and ISO 50001.

Both are similar in that they deal with energy management and resource conservation, but they’re different in their structure and level of focus on sustainability. ISO 14001 is used to certify an organization’s environmental management system (EMS), while ISO 50001 is used to authenticate its energy management system (EMS).

Green data centers should consider using Energy Management Systems to reduce waste.

As the world becomes more digitally connected, data centers will continue to grow in size and importance. Unfortunately, as they consume more energy, they will also contribute to an ever-worsening carbon footprint.

Green data centers are facilities or operations that strive to use sustainable practices to better their business. Data centers, specifically “green,” focus on operations and efficiency to save money and protect the environment. Sustainability, in this context, is about being efficient with natural resources to preserve them as well as limit waste.

Read more: Green Data Center Certification and Standard Practice.

Concerning power usage, this means implementing energy-efficient equipment and powering it down when not in use. When it comes to limiting waste requires identifying ways to reduce solid waste, recycle more materials, and reuse existing resources.

To ensure a green data center does not produce any unnecessary waste and uses minimal resources throughout its lifetime, it must be built with the future in mind and generate as little environmental impact as possible during its operation. Waste reduction is accomplished by reducing or reusing solid wastes such as packaging material and other non-essential supplies created during construction and regular operation.

Green data centers should consider using Energy Management Systems to reduce waste. Green data centers are known for using renewable energy, efficient cooling systems, and recycling programs. However, these facilities can reduce their carbon footprint even more by installing an Energy Management System (EMS).

Energy Management Systems 

Energy Management Systems monitor the electrical and mechanical systems at a data center, providing information about electricity consumption and operational status to system administrators and facility managers. This real-time feedback helps facilities cut waste by identifying areas where energy can be saved.

For example, the EMS may recognize that a particular system is not being used during off-hours. The EMS software can then notify system administrators, who can power down that system at night. It reduces the amount of energy used and the amount of money wasted on paying for electricity when no one is using it.


As more data centers look to be sustainable, some may think that ISO 14001 or ISO 50001 certification is optional because they already have an existing sustainability plan or they already adhere to industry standards such as LEED certification, which could be considered an equivalent. Still, there are several reasons why these certifications are essential to consider when planning for a sustainable data center.

The Green Grid, the most authoritative organization to set green data center standards, has proposed two green certifications: ISO 50001, the energy management standard, and ISO 14001, the environmental management standard.

ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 are two environmental management standards published by ISO that can be used in a green data center initiative. In addition to guiding how to achieve the best ecological results, ISO 50001 also provides guidelines on preparing an environmental management system (EMS) plan for submission as evidence that an organization has complied with the standard.

Adopting these two standards will assure customers that their data center meets the highest security and sustainability requirements and still acts as an excellent corporate citizen. This approach to data center operation will also help drive down costs through improved energy efficiency, waste reduction, and reduced risk assessments.

Worth to read: Indonesian Government Policy Supports Green Data Center.

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