New performance indicators for fully integrated and decarbonised data centres

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In this report, we develop 9 new indicators, building on the concept of the integrated data centre.

The growing energy demand from data centres may jeopardize Europe’s efforts to reach deep decarbonization. The energy efficiency gains achieved to date thanks to innovations in IT components are stabilizing and, despite the fact that global energy consumption for server cooling is constant, it is set to increase following the proliferation of data centres.

However, current standard designs are limited in driving sustainable change in the cooling subsystem as they mainly capture energy demand at the overall data centre and overlook decarbonization potentials other than energy efficiency, such as flexibility and waste heat.

The indicators developed in this report feed the ongoing discussion within the European Green Deal framework for the adoption of new metrics to provide detailed insights into data centres’ decarbonization efforts and to drive change to decouple sector growth from CO2 emissions.

Current indicators are limited to capturing efficiency gains

Change is happening too slowly in industry to create a sense of urgency. The guidelines set by the sector for going sustainable remain limited, especially regarding existing data centres, showing that there is significant room for manoeuvre in driving and accelerating decarbonization.

The power-usage effectiveness (PUE) indicator, which calculates energy usage in the whole facility, remains the main metric for monitoring the performance of data centres.

Other indicators set by international standard agencies allow for more detailed monitoring of progress in energy use and CO2 emissions, but their use is at the discretion of data-centre operators and is not monitored by the relevant authorities. Furthermore, these metrics remain very generic and fail to capture the full range of the energy efficiencies and decarbonization gains of data centres.

Besides, they overlook the performance potential of cooling subsystems almost entirely.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKgs. Lyngby
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
Number of pages41
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note


The financial support to the Cool-Data Project from Innovation Fund Denmark is gratefully acknowledged. The opinions expressed in this report do not represent the official position of Innovation Fund Denmark.


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