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Australian building rating standard comes to data centres

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New South Wales' Office of Environment & Heritage has released a version of its National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) standard for data centres.

The Office oversees NABERS, a standard that “measures the energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and indoor environment quality of a building or tenancy and its impact on the environment”, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Architects use the standard when designing buildings, which are expected to reach certain NABERS ratings to meet building standards. Good NABERS ratings are said to enhance the value of properties, as they denote likely lower energy bills (and assuage enviro-guilt).

NABERS for the data centre offers three tools:

  1. IT Equipment – a world’s first in measuring and benchmarking the energy efficiency of the IT equipment within a data centre.
  2. Infrastructure – uses the internationally recognised Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) to assess the efficiency of the building services (e.g. cooling and lighting). For the first time there will be a rigorous, independently assessed and accredited performance rating available for data centre operators.
  3. Whole Facility – combines the IT Equipment and Infrastructure rating metrics to assess the energy efficiency of the data centre as a whole.

NABERS says its six-star ratings scale means “... the Australian commercial property industry has gained a reputation as leading the world in the greening of its buildings.” That may sound like marketing fluff, but in the data centre world operators and end-users alike are keen to find the most efficient facilities. NABERS might mean a few of the former decide to turn a sod in Australia, leading the latter to fill more racks in the hope of consuming some certifiably greener electrons than can be had elsewhere.

It's not compulsory for Australian data centre operators to seek a NABERS rating, and while assessors can be hired to do the job online tools also allow those curious about the scheme to plug in some numbers and generate a rough rating without the hassle of independent oversight. ®

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