Energy Star for Data Centers Coming in Early June

The EPA's ENERGY STAR® program has been working on extending ENERGY STAR to data centers since 2007. A new rating system for data centers is planned for release on 7 June. What do we know and what is still unclear?

One communique tells us "This rating methodology will be used for stand-alone Data Centers and for larger buildings that contain a combination of Data Center with other ratable space types." Various wordings sometimes imply it is for purpose-built buildings only ("Data Center applies to buildings that are specifically designed and equipped…"), but the rating methodology is clearly intended to apply to both 'buildings' and 'spaces'.

There is not a great deal of guidance as to the size of a 'Data Center space'. I could only find one statement on this topic: "The Data Center space is intended for sophisticated computing and server functions; it should not be used to represent a server closet or computer training area."

A similar issue exist for scope. The global focus today is on ICT, not just IT, with a range of potentially eligible ICT facilities similar to data centers. Guidance on how the "Data Center space" can be applied to some of these other ICT facilities would broaden its usefulness.

The new program will include an ENERGY STAR rating for data center buildings, but not for data center spaces.

A February agreement among Energy Star and other international organizations affirming PUE as the "preferred energy efficiency metric" established as one of its "Guiding Principals":

The industry should improve the IT measurement capabilities to ultimately enable taking the measurement directly at the IT load (e.g. servers). At a minimum IT energy measurements should be measured at the output of the UPS.

Yet a May presentation on updates to the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager might be interpreted as reversing this:

– Ideally measured at Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) meter
– Alternative location for meter at Power Distribution Unit (PDU)

Consistent terminology will be important achieving comprehensive understanding.

We trust all this will be clarified prior to the launch, But it does reinforce the point Vertatique repeatedly makes about effective stakeholder communications often being the neglected part of Green ICT initiatives. In a major initiative like this, an investment in a knowledgeable outside party to monitor and report on consistency, continuity, and clarity is money well spent. Internal teams with their heads down driving toward a deadline are not well positioned to do this.

The integration of ICT facilities into the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is potentially of value to building operators in many industry segments. I'll post more as we get clarifying information.