The Global View

Carbon Trust teams up with British Computer Society

It’s quite astonishing this has only just come about, when you consider how far we have come with the climate debate. It is a good thing this has happened. But it’s taken a long time to arrive at this partnership that aims to boost the efficiency of data centres.

This whole move around data centres is more reactionary than visionary. It’s not really using IT to find a way to power the planet differently – just about shaving a few pennies and tonnes of CO2. Again, you can’t moan, but it’s a bit disappointing.
And there’s another funny thing with the Carbon Trust, whose name we’ve been wondering about a bit.

It’s a government entity that’s called a ‘trust’. Odd that.

And then you’ve got the word ‘carbon’. What about the other greenhouse gasses? There’s always methane, the worst of them. So why not call it the Methane Trust? Hmm, sounds a bit like fart trust. What about greenhouse gas reduction agency? No, no Carbon Trust is much clearer.

Greenbang can’t really talk with a name like Greenbang – ‘green’ is fair enough, but ‘bang’ raises a few eyebrows…

Anyway – this is what they say:

The Carbon Trust has teamed up with the British Computer Society (BCS) to develop a simulation software tool to help companies understand the energy use within data centres. The tool is being developed to address the IT industry’s need to manage growing power consumption and increased carbon emissions, which current forecasts compare to the level from the aviation industry.

The project, funded by the Carbon Trust’s Low Carbon Collaboration initiative and Romonet, will focus on data centres as they contribute the largest single proportion of energy use and carbon emissions from the IT sector. Data centres account for a quarter of IT-related carbon emissions, which in turn make up 2% of the world’s total carbon emissions1. Romonet will produce the software, which is expected to be available in first quarter of 2009 and will be released through an open source license.

Based on a model created by the BCS Data Centre specialist group the software tool will deliver outputs allowing operators to manage total costs of ownership, energy efficiency and ultimately carbon emissions (carbon footprint) on a per service or per application basis, an industry first in terms of carbon accountability.

Using the software tool data centre owners and operators will be able to simulate the complex environment factoring both the mechanical and electrical infrastructure as well as housed IT equipment.

Hugh Jones, Solutions Director at the Carbon Trust explains: “The scale of the problem is worrying. Forecasts based on the current growth of data and associated IT infrastructure translates into a picture of unsustainable power consumption in the long term and power supply capacity issues in the short term. It is crucial that we make effective tools available to enable companies to identify the right steps to take to reduce energy use and carbon.”

Bob Harvey, chair of the BCS’s Carbon Footprint group says: “We’re delighted to be working with the Carbon Trust to address this important area to meet the increasing need for the IT industry to reduce its carbon emissions. For most companies, the data centre is the place to start, and with increasing energy costs and the threat of restricted power output to large data centres, there has never been a better time for businesses to reassess their energy usage. The Carbon Trust’s support helps to reinforce the message that the IT industry needs to address this issue now.”

Liam Newcombe, Director of Research & Policy at Romonet says: “We believe this is a very positive step forward for our industry and shows commitment from two important industry bodies to help businesses understand and deal with the complexities of energy efficiency in their data centre. Romonet are happy to be engaged and supporting this activity.”

It’s wonderful how in these press releases everyone is delighted about what has just happened.