EDITOR ’ S QUESTION
HOW IS THE COST-OF-ENERGY CRISIS IMPACTING THE DATA CENTRE INDUSTRY AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT ?
he European Data
Centre Association ( EUDCA ) has announced publication of a new white paper entitled Whole Life Carbon Assessments for Data Centres .
The new publication says that as energy efficiency measures are potentially reaching their limits , with many data centre operators addressing operational carbon through power purchase agreements , on-site renewable energy technologies and taking into consideration the decarbonisation of grids , the next challenge will be achieving net zero embodied carbon . These emissions are released into the atmosphere during the manufacture , construction , maintenance and end-of-life stages of a data centre ’ s life cycle and cannot be reversed .
“ The actual volume of carbon emissions caused by data centres continues to be a matter of debate ,” said Andrew Harrison , Chair of the EUDCA Technical Committee . “ While it ’ s important we understand that number , we cannot escape the fact that demand for data is growing and if nothing changes , the result will be an even greater contribution to global emissions and climate change . The industry therefore needs to focus on radically reducing total life cycle emissions associated with data centres – Whole Life Carbon Assessments are key to unlocking greater understanding to help guide decision-making .”
The benefits of Whole Life Carbon Assessments ( WLCA ) within the data centre industry are clear and there is growing understanding of their importance – especially by those who have employed specialist sustainability teams . However , implementation may present challenges ; for example , there can be disparity with project delivery teams who could make the greatest impact by harmonising design and construction decisions . Education , continuing to spread awareness and upskilling are key to addressing this .
A key element of WLCAs is defining the boundaries of the assessment . Given the current maturity of the data centre industry in conducting these assessments , there is still a grey area with many assessments excluding the MEP systems and externals from their scope . According to outputs from assessments which have been carried out , the MEP systems are a huge component of the overall embodied carbon emissions of a data centre and should therefore be considered as a prominent factor within the WLCA .
The 19-page white paper explains the relevance of WLCAs , what they consist of and some of the methodologies and reporting frameworks that currently exist . It provides an example of a typical data
WHOLE LIFE CARBON ASSESSMENTS ARE KEY TO UNLOCKING GREATER UNDERSTANDING TO HELP GUIDE DECISION- MAKING .
centre compared to other building types and how WLCA can offer value to data centre operators at a time when there is a growing focus on decarbonisation and embodied carbon . Finally , it highlights some of the challenges the data centre industry faces in relation to WLCA and recommendations on how to tackle these .
Offering their views on how to tackle data centre challenges to reduce impact on the environment , are industry experts : Steve Wright , Data Centre Expert , Redcentric ; Ciaran Forde , Data Centre Segment Leader , Eaton ; and Lucy Plant , Manager Strategic Partnerships , Energy Solutions at Enel X . . . . www . intelligentdatacentres . com