New "Blue Angel" for data centers

Energy consumption must be further reduced – no halogens for air conditioning in future

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Low energy consumption and climate-friendly air conditioning are important in data centers.
Source: Sashkin /

Data centers that seek certification by the Blue Angel ecolabel must use significantly less energy in future and make use of climate-friendly air conditioning techniques. The criteria for award of the ecolabel have been revised based on decisions taken at the latest meeting of the Jury Environmental Label. "Data centers are true energy gluttons - in Europe they consume about 33% of all the power used in the information and communications technology sector. Data centers which have the new Blue Angel ecolabel guarantee the lowest possible use of hardware and energy, which allows them to operate at optimised cost level, resource efficiently, and to be climate-friendly," said Maria Krautzberger, President of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). UBA estimates that the costs of investment for new measurement techniques or cold aisle containment of the data centre are usually paid off after an average of two years.

Anyone who sends e-mails or does an Internet search, saves pictures in the cloud or uses a smartphone to find the way to their holiday destination is using a data centre somewhere in the world. We are all generating more and more data worldwide, which is then sent and stored. The volume of data stored worldwide has increased about a thousandfold in the past twenty years and continues to grow at an ever faster rate, making it all the more important to process data in an environmentally friendly way.

The Federal Environment Agency consulted with experts during the past year to revise the criteria for award of the Blue Angel for data centers. The basic concept remained but new requirements were added. For example, new intelligent Power Distribution Units (PDUs), which can also measure energy usage, may only have a power dissipation of up to 0.5 watts per power supply output. The values for Energy Usage Effectiveness (EUE), a measurement of the energy efficiency of the data centre's infrastructure, have also changed. Starting in 2013, new data centers which have been in operation for twelve months or less must achieve an EUE of 1.4. The EUE for older data centers is 1.6 (operating for five years or less) and 1.8 for centers already in operation for longer than five years.

In addition to low energy consumption, climate-friendly air conditioning in data centers is also important. The refrigerant most often used for air conditioning up to now is the climate-damaging hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Although EU Regulation No 517/2014 (F-Gas Regulation) makes provisions for a gradual reduction of the amounts of HFCs used, this will only enter into force in 2017. However, the requirements of the revised Blue Angel already require refrigeration systems that go into operation after 1 January 2013 to operate entirely without halogens. This means that Blue Angel-certified refrigeration systems will only use natural refrigerants such as carbon dioxide in future. Air conditioning systems that do without refrigerants altogether, for example heat exchangers, are admissible of course. Small data centers with a refrigeration requirement of up to 50 kilowatt hours (KWh) are exempt from the regulations.

Data centers can now apply for certification according to the new criteria. All data centers which are eligible to bear the Blue Angel ecolabel "Energy-Conscious Data Centers (RAL-UZ 161)" must comply with the new criteria for award by 1 January 2016.

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