Standardizing Sustainability Practices for Data Centers in Tropical Climates

IMDA establishes new partnerships to drive global digital sustainability and introduces a standard that aims to optimize energy efficiency by enabling the operation of data centers at higher temperature settings

Singapore has introduced a pioneering global standard to optimize energy efficiency in data centers (DCs) located in tropical climate countries. Unveiled by Dr. Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information in Singapore, at ATxEnterprise, this standard is the outcome of a collaborative effort by a working group consisting of domain and technical experts from industry, academia, and government agencies. The guidelines established by this group enable DCs to operate at higher temperature settings while maximizing energy efficiency, making this standard one of the world’s first in its kind.

DCs play a vital role in facilitating the digital economy

DCs not only serve as crucial facilitators of the digital economy, they also consume substantial resources such as land, water, and energy, contributing to our carbon footprint. In typical DCs, cooling systems alone can account for up to 40% of the total energy consumption. Many operators currently maintain their equipment at temperatures of 22°C and below. Operating DCs in warmer tropical climates presents additional challenges as more energy is required to cool the systems.

There is a global consensus among DC operators regarding the importance of sustainable DC operations. There is also a growing realization that it is feasible to operate DCs at higher temperatures without compromising performance. However, there is a lack of established industry guidelines on how to safely increase DC operating temperatures in tropical climates, especially at higher humidity levels. Singapore’s new standard was developed in response to this need.

The newly introduced standard aims to provide guidance for DCs to gradually raise their operating temperatures to 26°C and above. This shift has the potential to yield cooling energy savings ranging from 2% to 5% for DCs, with each 1°C increase in operating temperature. By adhering to this standard, DCs can develop a roadmap to enhance their sustainability while maintaining optimal performance.

Advancing sustainability through eco-friendly data centers

IMDA’s recently introduced standard plays a crucial role in Singapore’s Digital Connectivity Blueprint, officially launched on 5 June 2023 by Mrs. Josephine Teo, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information. This standard specifically addresses the sustainability of data centers (DCs) operating in tropical climates and complements other industry standards and best practices aimed at promoting sustainability within Singapore’s ICT ecosystem.

Enhancing the Green Mark Certification

To encourage wider adoption of these standards among DCs in Singapore, IMDA is collaborating with the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) to update the Green Mark scheme for DCs. This scheme sets energy efficiency and sustainability benchmarks for the DC industry, and it will now incorporate the new standard specifically designed for tropical DCs.

More information can be found here.