Green Grid creates more metrics for energy efficiency in data centers

The Green Grid consortium, which developed the widely used PUE metric for measuring energy efficiency in data centers, is developing two more metrics to address carbon emissions and water usage, it said Thursday.

A paper describing the new CUE, or Carbon Usage Effectiveness, metric was due to be posted on The Green Grid's Web site Thursday morning, the group said. Materials describing the WUE, or Water Usage Effectiveness, metric will be posted by March next year, it said.

PUE, or Power Usage Effectiveness, has been adopted widely in the past few years. Google and Microsoft often boast about their PUE numbers, and more enterprises are starting to calculate their PUE as a starting point for energy efficiency projects.

PUE measures how much of the total electricity used by a data center goes to the IT equipment, as opposed to being lost on cooling systems or inefficient power supplies.

"CUE will help managers determine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated in delivering work from the IT gear in a data center facility," the Green Grid said in a statement.

"WUE will help managers determine the amount of water used by the facility, and the amount used to deliver work from IT operations.," it said. A more detailed explanation wasn't available at press time.

Data centers are under pressure to be more environmentally responsible. Greenpeace has targeted cloud computing as a source of global warming, and in Europe there are already carbon taxes for big energy consumers. Most data centers use vast amounts of water for cooling, making it another logical area to tackle.

The issue jumped to the forefront in the U.S. after a report to Congress estimated that data centers accounted for 1.5% of the total U.S. energy consumption, and that the figure could double by 2011.

The new metrics will be discussed at The Green Grid's Technical Forum next March in Santa Clara, California. The consortium is comprised mostly of IT vendors, including Microsoft, Oracle and HP, as well as a few end user companies, such as Target, which are trying to come up with ways to improve data center efficiency.

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