Data center analytics company Romonet has launched a power usage effectiveness (PUE) validation program.

The company, which was earlier this year acquired by real estate giant CBRE, announced at DCD>Singapore that the first facility to be given the certification is Global Switch's ‘Woodlands’ data center in Singapore.

What's your PUE?

Global Switch Singapore Woodlands
Global Switch's Woodlands data center – Global Switch

The 'Validated by CBRE | Romonet' program comes in three stages: 'Design,' 'Performance Validation' and 'Operational,' with the Woodlands data center receiving a design validation.

The outcome of the award is not shared publicly, but a Global Switch brochure states a design PUE of 1.34.

"We are very pleased to receive the validation results and certification for our data center," Sam Lee, managing director for Global Switch Singapore, said.

"This confirms we are committed to providing our customers with the most efficient and reliable environments and proves that sustainability is a critical part of our strategy.”

More certificates are expected to be announced before the end of the year, Zahl Limbuwala, Romonet co-founder and CBRE executive director, told DCD.

"The ability to put down a report in front of a client that says, ‘these are our numbers, we've had them independently validated [by Romonet], and if you want their credentials and want to understand their methodology, feel free to go talk to them,’ is very powerful," Limbuwala said.

"The companies that we do this for often put the reports not just in front of their boards for sign off, but in front of their prospective clients, giving them the confidence that this is how the site will perform, or the design will perform."

The reports differ to those provided by groups like The Uptime Institute: "Our validation analytics product does not speak to the design's maintainability, or whether there are single points of failures, or whether it's concurrently maintainable, or even what Tier it is," Limbuwala said.

Instead, it focuses on "the PUE that the facility can achieve in the climate region that you're proposing to build it in, based on its design, the equipment you've selected to build it with, and the load forecast that you've given us.

"So it's not just a single number."

Providing a deeper analysis than just a number is crucial, Limbuwala said, when trying to counter some of the limitations of PUE. "As a single number without context, PUE is meaningless." Where the facility is based, how large it is, and what its load is, all need to be factored in.

"If you told me your PUE was 1.35, and it was 80 percent loaded and in Singapore, I'd say it has probably done pretty well there. Singapore is not a great climate for data centers, and it has terrible air quality - every year there's the forest fires in Malaysia that give you horrible smoky particulate air for most summer.

"So you can't do some of the things that you might otherwise do in Luleå, where you can suck in the nice, cold, clean, low humidity air, and not put any chillers. I would not recommend anybody do that in Singapore."

Romonet's report also looks at the CO2 impact of the data center and can look at water consumption. "For a while we saw a bit of a lull in people asking for anything other than PUE and cost, but the whole sustainability thing is coming back," Limbuwala said.

With sustainability increasingly a topic of discussion in governments across the world, having actionable data for the industry can be vital to ensuring intelligent policy-making, Limbuwala said. "[Trade body] The Green Grid were driving forward the agenda of 'let's not just have a bunch of uninformed governments suddenly regulate this industry, because the media are talking about us as large consumers of energy and carbon,' so let's get our homework in order and actually put initiatives in place to improve.

"Unfortunately, The Green Grid have run out of steam," Limbuwala added. "They've been doing solid, good work - creating PUE being the most obvious visible outcome - so it is kind of a shame they've lost momentum significantly. But I think actually it does leave a bit of a vacuum for someone that is not The Green Grid to pick up the mantle and continue that forward, because I don't think the work is done by any measure."