[LINK] AGIMO details Federal Government data centre needs

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Fri Jul 2 09:47:25 AEST 2010

Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:
> On 30/06/2010 3:26 PM, Tom Worthington wrote:
>> Unfortunately the draft includes no requirements for sustainable (Green)
>> IT performance.
> It's not unfortunate, it's deliberate. That's because the RFT applies 
> only to data centre facilties, not what's inside data centres. ...

The way electricity and cooling are supplied in a data centre has a 
significant effect on the ability of the customer to measure and reduce 
the energy use and so measure and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions 
caused by their equipment in the data centre. Therefore I suggest 
mandatory requirements are needed for these in government tenders for 
data centres.

These are not hypothetical issues. My Green IT students have found these 
issues in some of the more than 20 studies they have conducted into IT 
energy use in organisations in North America, the Pacific and Australia, 
including the data centres of several major Australian government 
departments: <http://www.tomw.net.au/green/#courses>.

Large government agencies are required to report the carbon emissions 
they are responsible for, including those caused by their computer 
equipment. Measuring the emissions will require separate metering of 
electricity used by the agency's equipment in a data centre.

As much energy can be used cooling the equipment as is used by the 
equipment itself, therefore the efficient of the cooling ststeem is 
important in reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Older data centres do not have separate metering for individual
customers. As a result the customer does not know how much power their
servers are using, nor can they measure the effect of any energy saving
programs implemented. It is therefore important to have separate
metering of electricity use.

As cooling of computer equipment can use about as much power as the
computers themselves, the efficiency of the cooling plant is
important to the overall efficiency (and carbon emissions) of IT for an 
agency. Individual customers can do little to reduce their cooling
requirements in an existing shared data centre, they have to use the
cooling technology provided with the building. It is therefore important
to assess the efficiency of the technology used.

Another significant greenhouse gas emission source in data centres are
the backup generators. While these are rarely used, the test running of
diesel generators contributes significantly to a data centre's overall
emissions. Alternate backup power and good design and management of
backup power can make a significant difference to emissions.

The source of power for a data centre can effect its greenhouse gas
emissions. An on-site or nearby source of energy would be a significant 
saving, due to reduced transmission losses. The availability of 
renewable power may also be significant.

It is not clear if embedded energy is being considered by the Australian
Government for its IT (as no guidelines have been released). The
concrete in a typical data centre building produces large amounts of 
greenhouse gasses during production. Use of alternative materials and 
reuse of buildings (such as conversion of warehouses into data centres) 
can greatly reduce embedded energy.

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au

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