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Driving Swiss data centre infrastructure to decarbonisation 

Swiss data centres are set to undergo reviews of their carbon impact and environmental sustainability under new initiative

Data centres have become a hot topic on the global sustainability scene, with the energy requirements of such broad data processing operations coming under increasing scrutiny. Among other factors, Internet of Things (IoT) enabled tech becoming more widespread, exponentially increasing the number of data points feeding into these computing factories, highlights the challenge of marrying Big Data, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. According to Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE), data centres already account for 1% of the world’s total energy consumption. 

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Swiss Data Center Efficiency Label was unveiled by an alliance of academics and industry leaders led by HPE and digitalswitzerland, with the aim of decarbonising Switzerland’s data centre infrastructure.

The alliance has founded the Swiss Datacenter Efficiency Association (SDEA) to coordinate assessments and accreditation based on the label’s criteria, with founding members including:  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). 

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“Today’s methodologies are looking at isolated aspects of data center efficiency and sustainability, none of which capture the overall energy and carbon footprint,” said Christopher Wellise, Chief Sustainability Officer at HPE, in the organisation’s press release. 

“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 center operators, industry associations and governments to measure and control the real climate impact of digital infrastructures.”

Data centre performance will be measured against the following criteria: entire energy flow, ingest to output, recycling capabilities of output energy such as thermal energy loss, energy-efficient IT technology and the effectiveness of IT. Based on their performance, data centres will be awarded bronze, silver and gold awards, with a plus symbol added for those that meet environmental sustainability standards.