IMDA introduces sustainability standard for data centres operating in tropical climates


Singapore has launched one of the world’s first standard for optimising energy efficiency for data centres in tropical climate countries. Announced by Singapore’s Senior Minister of State, communications and information, Dr Janil Puthucheary at ATxEnterprise, the standard comes after a working group comprising domain and technical experts from both industry and academia, as well as government agencies worked on establishing a set of guidelines to enable the operation of data centres at higher temperature settings while optimising energy efficiency.

The new standard announced by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) aims to help data centres develop a roadmap to support the gradual increase in the data centre operating temperatures to 26°C and above. This could lead to data centres potentially benefiting from a two per cent to five per cent cooling energy savings, with every 1°C increase in the data centre operating temperature.

IMDA’s new standard forms part of the Digital Connectivity Blueprint which was launched on the 5th June 2023 by Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, Mrs Josephine Teo. Within the Blueprint, sustainability will be a paramount design factor in Singapore’s digital infrastructure, so that they grow the digital economy in line with thei long-term climate commitments. The standard for tropical data centres complements other sustainability-related industry standards and best practices that are key in our push for sustainability in Singapore’s ICT ecosystem. In the longer term, the Government will also chart a roadmap towards net-zero data centres that are powered by renewable energy, considering the necessary resource requirements such as land, power generating sources and green pathways.

To encourage greater adoption of the standards by the data centres operating in Singapore, IMDA is working with the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) to update the Green Mark scheme for data centres, which sets the energy efficiency and sustainability benchmarks for the data centre industry, with this new standard for tropical data centres.

To bring Singapore forward as the regional hub for digital sustainability, IMDA is also building international private public partnerships to drive the development of digital sustainability for a greener digital future for all. IMDA is joining forces with key collaborators such as IBM and Microsoft, and Singapore is the first country to join the Green Software Foundation and European Green Digital Coalition as a supporting partner, to exchange best practices and promote implementation of green software. This will include efforts to equip the software community with knowledge on green software practices to design, develop and deploy sustainable digital applications, advance technologies to develop low-carbon digital applications, and encourage the development of innovative carbon aware solutions.

IMDA has worked with several data centre operators in Singapore to trial this new standard to reduce energy use. For example, Digital Realty, has referenced this standard and successfully increased their data centre operating temperatures by 2°C at two of their 4.5 megawatt data halls, which translates to a reduction of approximately two to three per cent total energy usage in these data halls over the trial period to-date. The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) has also begun trialling higher temperatures in a Government data centre, as part of their sustainability initiative.

IMDA has invited data centre operators to use this standard to help determine the best operating temperature for optimising energy efficiency in tropical climates whilst safeguarding operational reliability.

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