At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, an alliance of academia and industry representatives announced the Swiss Data Center Efficiency Label with the initial goal to decarbonise data centres in Switzerland and significantly reduce their overall energy consumption. Initiated by industry association, digitalswitzerland, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), the alliance has founded the Swiss Datacenter Efficiency Association (SDEA), which will own the assessment and award process for the label.
Founding members of SDEA include: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL); Green IT Switzerland; HPE; the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU); the Swiss Data Center Association (Vigiswiss); and the Swiss Telecommunications Association (ASUT). The initiative is supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy through the programme, SwissEnergy.
A total of 10 pilot users including some of the world’s most renowned brands implemented energy-efficient technologies and procedures to achieve compliance with the criteria of the Swiss Data Center Efficiency Label. This led to energy savings of up to 70%, with five of the pilot users employing 100% carbon-neutral energy sources. The Canton of Geneva plans to include some of the key requirements of the label into its next energy-efficiency law as a basis for the construction of new data centres. The goal is to drive adoption across Switzerland and the label will also be presented to the European Commission and the United Nations in an effort to leverage the Swiss model for global impact.
“Carbon-neutral energy sources and energy-efficient digital technologies are available today and it’s through appropriate methodologies, industry commitment and policy enforcement that broad adoption can be driven,” said Benoit Revaz, Swiss Federal Office of Energy. “We welcome projects such as the Swiss Data Center Efficiency Label, which can help to lessen the negative climate impact of one of the digital backbones of our society. We encourage and support organisations and nations worldwide to undertake similar efforts.”
Data centres globally currently account for 1% of global electricity consumption, but the share is much higher in attractive data hosting countries like Switzerland, where the energy use of data centres was estimated to be 2.8% of the country’s total electricity consumption in 2015. Considering the exponential growth of data volumes and data traffic in the next years, methodologies for measuring and managing data centre efficiency are needed to significantly reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption.
“Today’s methodologies are looking at isolated aspects of data centre efficiency and sustainability, none of which capture the overall energy and carbon footprint,” said Christopher Wellise, Chief Sustainability Officer, HPE. “The Swiss Data Center Efficiency Label, on the other hand, takes a holistic approach by considering all sources of energy consumption and energy supply, as well as the reuse of energy consumed. Hence, it provides the missing links to enable data centre operators, industry associations and governments to measure and control the real climate impact of digital infrastructures.”