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HPE joins Swiss-backed bid to 'decarbonise' datacentres across the world

HPE has joined forces with tech leaders and academics in Switzerland to support the take-up of a datacentre accreditation geared towards improving the energy efficiency of server farms worldwide

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) is lending its support to a datacentre decarbonisation initiative, aimed at encouraging server farm operators worldwide to reduce their energy consumption.

The initiative is being led by digitalswitzerland, a 130-strong member group focused on positioning Switzerland as one of the world’s leading technology innovation hubs, which has joined forces with HPE to oversee the creation of a datacentre decarbonisation accreditation for compliant operators.

The Swiss Data Center Efficiency Label accreditation will be awarded to operators that can demonstrate they have taken steps to increase the use of energy-efficient technologies and procedures in their datacentres, and have met a set of criteria laid out by the Swiss Datacentre Efficiency Association (SDEA).

There will be three specific areas the accreditation covers. The first looks at energy flow, which will track how facilities are powered and how the by-products (such as waste heat) generated by their activities are used.

The second is concerned with the technology housed inside a datacentre and how energy efficient it is, while the third will monitor its carbon footprint.

HPE, along with digitalswitzerland and various other Swiss academic and tech trade associations, are among the founding members of the SDEA. They will assume responsibility for assessing operators who put their facilities forward for the accreditation on these grounds.

Christopher Wellise, chief sustainability officer at HPE, said the accreditation is geared towards getting a complete and comprehensive view of a datacentre’s overall energy consumption and carbon footprint.

“The Swiss Data Center Efficiency Label takes a holistic approach by considering all sources of energy consumption and energy supply, as well as the reuse of energy consumed,” said Wellise.

“It provides the missing links to enable datacentre operators, industry associations and governments to measure and control the real climate impact of digital infrastructures.”

Some 10 organisations have already taken steps to achieve the accreditation as part of a pilot project. This work has, according to HPE, generated energy savings of up to 70% for these participants, while 50% of them are now powering their facilities with carbon-neutral energy sources.

The group hopes this initial success will be sufficient to drive adoption of the accreditation among datacentre operators in Switzerland, who were reportedly responsible for consuming 2.8% of the country’s total energy in 2015.

In due course, the SDEA hopes the accreditation will also be adopted more broadly worldwide, with the association setting its sights on submitting it for consideration to the European Commission and the United Nations.

“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 from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, who is also among the initiative’s backers.

“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.”

The announcement has been timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, with many of the discussions taking place there focused on what can be done to halt the onset of climate change.

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