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Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact proposes new water metrics

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Image credit: Romolo Tavani / Shutterstock.com

The Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact (CNDCP) has proposed new metrics for water conservation to the European Commission.

Established in 2021, the CNDCP is a self-regulatory initiative currently backed by 74 data centre operators and 23 associations with the aim of climate neutrality.

It holds progress meetings with members of the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CNECT) and the Directorate General for the Environment (DG ENV) every six months, the third of which took place in June 2022.

With water cooling an increasingly common approach to data centre cooling, the most recent meeting has seen the CNDCP propose a water use limit of 0.4 litres of water per Kilowatt-hour of computer power (0.4 l/kWh). According to the CNDCP, this metric takes into account the diverse range of technologies, climates and types of data centre building to ensure that it is technology and location neutral.

The proposed metric will need to be achieved at data centres operated by pact signatories by 2040, taking into consideration the lifecycle of current cooling systems and the embedded carbon cost of early replacement. It also aims to prevent construction of any new data centres that would be unable to meet the agreed metric.

The proposed metric suggests that every data centre building should be treated as if it was in a high stress water area, and by differentiating between potable and non-potable water, the measure will encourage use of grey-water and rainwater for cooling.

The CNDCP also presented updates from its Monitoring and Reporting Working Group, tasked with formalising how metrics are measured and to align reporting with existing approved frameworks. The group has said that pact metrics will be mapped against the ISO 30134 standard by independent auditing company Bureau Veritas.

The CNDCP has also established two new working groups to define targets for recycling and reuse as part of a circular economy, and to establish metrics for energy efficiency. Progress of these will be reported at the next update meeting planned for November 2022.

Commenting on the meeting, Chairperson Matt Pullen, said; “This was the third of our bi-annual update meetings with the commission and we feel we are really hitting our stride in providing relevant, auditable metrics that make significant contribution to accelerating our industry’s shift to climate neutrality. With over 90% of Europe’s data centre capacity represented by signatories to the pact, these meetings are milestones on a crucial journey for Europe’s Green Deal and Digital Agenda.”

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