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18th Edition: Energy efficiency gets the green light, but what does this mean for data centre managers?

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While it’s not unusual to see new regulation bring in new requirements, the 18th Edition will constitute one of the biggest shake-ups to the UK Wiring Regulations to date – with energy efficiency introduced for the very first time. With this brings a renewed focus on the energy efficiency plight and the integral role that the modern data centre manager has to play in helping customers to reduce their energy use and carbon footprint while, in turn, boosting their green credentials. Here, Mahendra Mistry, technical manager for electrical systems at Bureau Veritas, tells you what you need to know.

The advent of sustainability is undoubtedly transforming the role of the modern maintenance personnel. Today, the task is to not only ensure that all electrical systems and equipment are in safe and working order to support the core business of an organisation cost effectively, but operate in the most energy efficient manner possible.

A large driver has been the Government’s growing green agenda. While we are one of the most successful countries in our carbon reductions, there is still huge progress to be made towards reducing emissions by 80% on 1,990 levels before 2050, with the commercial energy landscape playing a big part.

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Currently, non-domestic buildings in the UK, including the rising numbers of data centres across the country, account for 17% of our energy consumption and 12% of greenhouse gas emissions. Thereby a majority proportion of our green economy lies with the UK’s business and industry; particularly as they are usually bigger premises than domestic properties, so energy efficiency measures are more cost effective.

This is seen in a raft of green initiatives and legislations with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), the ErP Directive, Energy Performance Certificates, the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, the Waste Resources Action Plan (WRAP) and more.

The result is that UK firms, especially those with dedicated data centres, need to get serious about their energy and increasing onus is being placed on the data centre managers and engineers who must play a major role in this transition by developing in-depth knowledge of the latest green products and solutions.

Yet until this point, there has been no official best practice regulation around the design and installation of energy efficient technology – meaning it has been all too common for installations to be chopped and changed, with little regard to the distribution of electricity or potential losses.

Cue the arrival of the 18th Edition this July (2018) which, for the very first time, goes beyond just looking at solely safety requirements to include a new section designed to ensure energy efficiency is incorporated into electrical installation designs as a prerequisite rather than just as a ‘nice-to-have’.

Comprising 25 pages of expert guidance, the new Part 8 takes a different approach to electrical installations, with a view to lessening environmental impact, reducing energy losses and, in turn, energy costs, using energy only when required and potentially at a lower tariff, reducing maintenance by ensuring equipment is installed correctly and enhancing general life-time efficiency.

Key energy efficiency performance measures include lighting and the benefit of replacing traditional standard filament, halogen and fluorescent lights with super-efficient LEDs as one of the easiest ways to cut energy costs. Boasting a typical lifespan of up 70,000 hours, which is eight times that of traditional options, switching to LED lighting can help businesses reduce their lighting energy bill by as much as 90%. Also, because LEDs are typically low voltage, they can also negate the risk of electric shock.

Another important area is that of the electric vehicle. Amid the backdrop of a turbulent fuel market, recent years have seen a remarkable surge in demand for electric vehicles in the UK, particularly in the commercial realm as more businesses come to realise the huge savings to be had by switching to a greener fleet. In fact, more than 100 companies have now promised to integrate electric cars into their corporate fleet under the government-backed electric car campaign, Go Ultra Low. While this is great news for the green economy, there has been an underlying concern about the charging infrastructure that is being installed to support this growth, and whether it is being done safety and correctly – another point clarified in Part 8.

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Equally, power factor correction is covered, being an increasingly sought out energy-efficient measure which employs the use of high quality, reliable capacitors that compensate for any re-active non-working reactive power demand; restoring power factor as near to unity as possible. In this way, power correction units can achieve significantly reduced power consumption and CO2 emissions, along with lower electricity bills – another great revenue stream for the data centre engineers to enter into.

Further measures included in Part 8 include guidance around the best practice installation of transformers and cables, with a view to negating losses through the installation of more energy efficient models supported with a strategic design, alongside with guidance on smart metering, load balancing and harmonics, and more.

Amid new legislation and a volatile fuel market, there has never been a better time for the data centre managers to upsell smart solutions to commercial clients. Not only is it important in terms of legislative compliance and environment, it can have a remarkably beneficial impact to any company’s bottom line – ensuring a happy customer and, most likely, repeat custom.  Surely then, with the arrival of Part 8 marking a landmark step forward for sustainability, it’s time to give energy efficient consultancy the green light?

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