Making EED work for you

By Jakub Wolski, data centre strategy and business development leader, Trend Control Systems Ltd.

2024 is a landmark year for data centre operators. By May 15, 2024, European operators with at least 500kW of installed IT systems will have had their first experience with the comprehensive sustainability reporting requirements of the European Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). 

And while the EED only applies to data centres in the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA), it is highly likely that similarly stringent regulations will be introduced in other markets.

EED requires annual reporting of data from May 2024

The EED obliges data centre operators to complete extensive reporting on various factors associated with operating their facilities, with May 2024’s first report requiring annual data collected from May 2023 onwards.  While many operators will have some level of sustainability reporting in place already, the European Commission is requesting particular data and specific calculations. 

Operators must report on factors such as installed power, energy consumption, waste heat consumption, water usage effectiveness (WUE) and power usage effectiveness (PUE) for the preceding year. Evidently, the need for data about data centres has never been greater.

This vast volume of data aims to ensure that Europe’s data centre industry is taking steps towards the directive’s revised target of an 11.7 per cent energy use reduction in Europe by 2030. All this is in aid of the EU’s 2030 climate target of a 55 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels — a step on the path to becoming “the first climate-neutral continent” by 2050. 

Data centres were originally excluded from the scope of the EED but were added in 2023 following increased scrutiny of the environmental impact of data centre operations. According to the European Union, data centre energy consumption leaped by 42 per cent between 2010 and 2018, with a further rise of 28.2 per cent currently projected by 2030.  Globally, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that data centres accounted for 1–1.3 per cent of global energy consumption in 2022. 

What comes after

Currently, the main demand of the EED in data centres is for operators to report on key operational factors. For example, operators will need to measure WUE to assess the sustainability of water usage in relation to energy consumption. Similarly, they’ll need to regularly conduct energy audits to assess their overall energy efficiency and identify areas for improvement. There is not a requirement for operators to necessarily act to enhance efficiency — yet.

The European Commission is developing a rating scheme for data centres based on the data reported through the EED. This scheme will allow relevant stakeholders — from industry experts and trade bodies to EU member states — to directly compare the performance of data centres and help inform new standards and policies in the future. This is a clear sign of the direction that the European Commission would like the industry to go towards: one where granular data collection, comprehensive analytics, and the right building and electrical management systems are critical to meeting reporting requirements and efficiency guidelines.

Data centre operators have a vested interest in their systems being future-proof. Not only does it allow them to stay ahead of more granular reporting requirements in the long-term, but it also enables them to better address energy efficiency and control energy costs in the nearer term.

Future-proofing data centre systems

For a system to be considered future-proof, it must be designed to anticipate and accommodate the ever-evolving needs of the data centre. These systems prioritise flexibility, scalability, energy efficiency, and resilience to ensure that data centres can continually adapt to technological advancements and changing business requirements. Data centre operators that implement these systems stand to benefit from optimised operations, reduced costs, and the service reliability for users.

A future-proof system in this case is an effective Building Energy Management System (BEMS) that can give end-to-end visibility into data centre assets and equipment, allowing for efficient and effective data collection, analysis and management. This allows operators to meet the current reporting requirements of the EED, while also providing a platform for more granular data collection and analysis.

For example, the Trend IQVISION supervisor can connect to systems and assets throughout the entire data centre ecosystem, from cooling systems and power supplies to the IT infrastructure itself. Data from these assets is collected and aggregated into customisable dashboards, where managers can easily review data and technicians can dive deeper into the data sets. Anomalies can be automatically flagged with the BEMS alarms and logging system, and opportunities for optimisations can be easily identified to help bolster energy efficiency.

Granular data reporting draws DC operators

Often, it’s the optimisation of energy management that is the most attractive to data centre operators. Being able to collect and analyse granular data from specific systems gives technicians efficient insight into how things are operating and where improvements can be made. With aspects of this data required to be reported for EED, the foundations are already in place to turn EED requirements into insight that delivers operational and cost benefits.

A perfect example of this is the energy consumption reporting required under EED. With an effective BEMS in place, operators can identify what systems consume the most energy and whether that aligns with historical trend data. This could be a sign of ageing equipment in need of an upgrade, or a fault that might need addressing. In either case, the team can act to address the inefficiency and reduce energy waste as a result.

For whole system optimisation, data centre operators can look to more advanced BEMS that leverages the functionality of supervisor and energy management systems. A BEMS that can seamlessly integrate with these other systems can support KPI tracking with instant, automated reporting, flexible dashboard views and specialist energy tools. These features augment the control that operators have over their data centres, providing them with complete control and detailed data on all aspects of operation. 

Legislative changes always bring an element of disruption to industries, not least of all when the rules require regular reporting and data collection. That disruption is not necessarily a bad thing: in fact, it could be exactly what a data centre needs to be adaptable, efficient, and fit for the future.

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