Green Grid Creates Metrics for Carbon, Water

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Expanding its focus on sustainability, The Green Grid today announced the creation of two new metrics to measure carbon and water use in data centers. The new metrics, Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE) and the upcoming Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE), are designed to build upon the momentum of The Green Grid’s widely-used Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric.

The Green Grid is an industry group focused on helping data center operators improve the energy efficiency of their IT infrastructure. Its efforts have focused on metrics for power efficiency, which is a key issue for companies wrestling with rising power bills. That includes PUE, which compares the amount of energy used by the facility and the IT gear inside of it.

Broader View of ‘Green’ Metrics
With the new metrics, The Green Grid is broadening its efforts to take a more holistic view of data center sustainability. CUE will help data center managers determine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated in delivering work from the IT gear in a data center facility. Similarly, WUE will help managers determine the amount of water used by the facility, and the amount used to deliver work from IT operations.

The carbon metric will add to the tools available to help companies prepare for potential regulation of carbon output, and provide a benchmark for assessing the carbon efficiency of their data centers.

“The Green Grid believes that it is extremely important for the industry to promote efficiencies in other dimensions to maximize operational efficiency and reduce negative impacts on resources and the environment,” the group writes in a white paper outlining the new CUE metric, which is available on The Green Grid’s Web site. “Clearly, the site-location risks of carbon taxation and energy prices are major factors in decision making for multiple areas related to data centers. Organizations that focus proactively on these issues will lower their business risks, increase their potential for growth, and better manage their environmental costs.”

CUE will compare the total carbon emissions caused by the Total Data Center Energy (one of the PUE variables) and the  energy used by the IT equipment.

‘Significant Steps Forward’
“CUE and WUE metrics are significant steps forward in helping data center operators measure the effectiveness of carbon and water use by their data centers,” said Jack Pouchet, Emerson Network Power representative and Board Member of The Green Grid. “Using a sound set of metrics like PUE, CUE, and WUE will lead to better managing of natural resources, and can potentially reduce consumption. Our members firmly believe that decision-makers need the right tools to design, build, and operate their data centers in a sustainable way as they plan for increased computing, networking, and storage demands.”

The CUE white paper includes methods for calculating the new carbon metric. Materials related to WUE will be made available in the first quarter of 2011.

PUE, CUE and WUE will be discussed at length at The Green Grid’s Technical Forum 2011 in March.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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