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IT decision makers admit ignorance over datacentre environmental impacts

Majority of datacentre operators unable to account for environmental impact of their sites, The Green Grid's research reveals

The vast majority of datacentre owners are unable to give an account of their facilities’ environmental impact, research from The Green Grid suggests.

The datacentre efficiency consortium questioned 150 IT decision makers, operating facilities in the UK, France and Germany, about how they run their sites.

In response, 43% admitted they have do not have an energy efficiency strategy in place for their datacentres, and 71% said they are not able to “entirely quantify” their environmental effects.

Despite this, 88% said their datacentre operations are included for consideration in their organisation’s wider corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy.

The Green Grid, whose members include private companies, government agencies and educational institutions, has previously spoken out about the need for operators to be held accountable for the environmental impact of their actions, particularly as the amount of land given over to datacentre builds increases.

Roel Castelein, the consortium’s Europe, Middle-East and Africa marketing chair, said the survey results suggest some organisations are failing to follow through on their commitment to tackling datacentre energy efficiency.

“The real-world objectives of datacentre management and the ability to keep track of energy efficiency should be going hand-in-hand if resources are to be effectively managed,” said Castelein.

“What our research shows is that while datacentres are recognised as a central part of organisations’ energy efficiency strategies, many are operating and making decisions – to a certain degree – in the dark.”

Out of those questioned, 97% said their datacentre monitoring processes could be improved, but Castelein suggested improvements in this area would be motivated by the need to reduce costs, rather than improve energy efficiency.

“Our research found the top four challenges and opportunities at the board level were all to do with reducing and predicting costs, rather than on ‘green’ or resource efficient objectives,” he said.

“This is likely driven by customer requirements in an extremely competitive marketplace, requiring increasing flexibility and ‘always on’ functionality, despite the common focus on datacentres in CSR strategies.”

In light of this, he said datacentre managers should be focusing less on short-term return on investment (ROI) goals, and more on the long-term sustainability of their sites.

The latter looks set to become more of a pressing matter in the years to come, as the European Commission reinforces its commitment to encouraging datacentre operators to drive up their use of renewable energy sources to at least 80% by 2020.

“It is clear that many IT leaders need greater support in putting in place more effective resource-efficiency measures,” he added. xx xxx xxx xxx xx xx xxx xxx

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