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UK Colleges and Universities forced to report

New legislation passed in April this year means that most UK colleges and universities will be required to report on their energy use and improve their efficiency or they could face financial penalties.

Now the University of Hertfordshire has become the first university in Europe to meet industry best practice in energy efficiency by complying with this new EU code of conduct for data centres.

JISC part-funded a project at the university which refurbished an existing data centre facility including the development of a waste heat management system to enable the data centre and the building in which it is contained to run more effectively and efficiently.

The innovative solution has already demonstrated cost savings of £20,000 per year and will eventually save around £34,000 per year, reducing the university’s carbon footprint from 1,394 tons to just 773 tons for the same IT load – equivalent to taking 117 cars off the roads.

The new system recycles waste energy back into the domestic hot water system for the university’s learning resources centre The refurbishment of the data centre increased capacity by over 45% while requiring no increase in space or carbon-intensive building work for cooling or power.

Lawrie Phipps, programme manager at JISC, said:

“This project demonstrated the University of Hertfordshire’s green credentials and also made efficiency gains in the process, highlighting the importance of this kind of innovation work and JISC’s role in helping institutions to meet their strategic aspirations.”

Data centres consume a vast amount of energy.In times of rising fuel bills, tightening budgets and the need to be more environmentally sustainable has made data centre efficiency a strategic priority for many colleges and universities. The University of Hertfordshire is no exception to this – they have made it a priority to reduce their energy and carbon footprint by investing in their staff, information technology and estates to achieve this strategic goal.

Hertfordshire’s Data Centre manager Steve Bowes-Phipps said:

“The University of Hertfordshire is not alone in the higher and further education sector in trying to squeeze the maximum amount of capacity and power out of the limited spaces in which its data centres sit, while also trying to dramatically lower the total operational cost of owning them. Working with Future-tech, we believe we obtained the best data centre design possible for the limited budget available. As an added bonus, we also lowered the costs for running the LRC as well. It is great to be recognised by the EU as constantly seeking to improve the sustainability of our data centres and thus lowering ICT costs for our institution.”

The EU Code of Conduct provides best practice recommendations which focus on how information technology can be designed and used to reduce energy consumption, ensuring data centres and other services perform more effectively. Following the best practice recommendations could result in a reduction in European data centre energy consumption of as much as 20%.

Paolo Bertoldi, European Commission Director General for Research said: “This code of conduct is the first time that the energy efficiency of data centres has been regulated at a European level, so it is a significant step forward in bringing together organisations to discuss and agree voluntary actions.”

Programme webpage:

EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres: