Green prospects in 2009

The EU Code of Conduct for data centres was formally launched at the end of last year amidst much fanfare, but not without grumblings about its voluntary nature.

However, as I have written before, the Code is without doubt a very welcome contribution to our industry, and this is not just because it will raise greater awareness on green issues.

Indeed, with the prospect of greater carbon regulation next year and the continued need for cost cutting during the downturn, the Code’s best practice guidelines will see many data centre operators sign up – despite it not being mandatory.

Foremost in the minds of data centre operators and owners will be the need to reduce energy consumption as much as possible. Businesses may well undertake cost cutting exercises and label them as “green” initiatives, but if this has the effect of reducing energy consumption, then the end goal is still achieved.

Additionally, a crucial piece of regulation is coming to the UK in October 2009 – the Carbon Reduction Commitment. This will enforce financial disincentives to organisations whose electricity consumption is greater than 6,000MWh per year – equivalent to an annual electricity bill of more than £500,000.

Users who go over the allocated MWh per year will have to buy carbon credits to offset their emissions. Without doubt, this will have a massive impact on the data centre industry, especially in the current economic climate.

As the EU’s Code is all about reducing costs and energy consumption, the non-mandatory nature of it may not be such a big issue. In the coming year, the data centre industry will be concentrating on reducing energy consumption, and it should welcome clear, achievable guidelines on how to meet that goal.