The DC MAG editorial office interviewed Marina Köhn, research associate at the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), about the future of the label "Blue Angel" and she pledges for more transparency on the market and fair competition. Dr. Dieter Thiel, Senior Consultant at Data Center Group (DCG) – who has been working for many years as an expert for energy efficiency and sustainability – is also a member in the expert group "Blue Angel" of the UBA. In the interview with DC MAG Marina Köhn and Dr. Dieter Thiel discuss about current developments and the future data center market.
DC MAG: Mrs. Köhn, at first, we would like to ask you about the status quo: Could you please give us some introducing facts about the "Blue Angel" for data centers? How would you describe the development and how do you estimate these tendencies?
Marina Köhn: The "Blue Angel" for energy-efficient data center operation (DE-UZ 161) has already existed since 2011, while the "Blue Angel" for colocation data centers (DE-UZ 214) has only existed since 2020. The "Blue Angel" describes the demands on the data center design to make it energy-efficient, resource-saving and thus environmentally friendly. At present, the label is available for the two variations as explained above. This status is about to change soon.
We are currently working on the further development and the fusion of both labels for energy-efficient data center operation and climate-friendly colocation data centers.
As the demands on IT infrastructures are constantly changing, we are constantly adjusting the "Blue Angel" criteria. Therefore, we are always in touch with our auditors - such as Mr. Thiel – to sharpen demands and criteria. We are currently planning to publish the modified version of the "Blue Angel" at the beginning of 2023. Our goal is to stipulate new certification regulations in spring 2023 on this basis.
DC MAG: At present, how many certifications according to the "Blue Angel" for energy-efficient data center operation are approximately available? What trend can you observe in the market?
Marina Köhn: Actually, there are not that many certifications, but the demand is constantly increasing, and I get more and more inquiries about the "Blue Angel". The label is gaining more and more attention as all topics that we have been dealing with for many years have top relevance in the sector. Sustainability and energy efficiency are only two of numerous issues that influence our work. And in this context, the "Blue Angel" is an extremely reliable measuring instrument.
We also have an eye on the market's dynamic development and the regulations are being adjusted in consultation with our experts. For this purpose, we will present and discuss the changes in workshops together with the auditors. One of the final steps is the revision of the award documents including the application documents. The revision of the regulations takes place in close exchange with data center operators, planners, and customers.
We are working to increase the acceptance within the sector in order to achieve the dissemination as well as the impact of the eco-label and we are on a good way. However, there is considerable need for optimization: More innovative measures and new ideas are required to stop the current energy waste.
Of course, there is always the question about the sense of a certification as it costs time and money. On the other hand, an investment in sustainability pays off for data center operators as every certification starts with consulting according to the criteria catalogue and can reveal potentials for energy saving. The costs can thus be amortized, and the investment pays off in the long term. We offer free consultation to award even more data centers with the "Blue Angel".
Dr. Dieter Thiel: We offer comprehensive consultation and assistance with promotions. According to the coalition agreement, the "Blue Angel" is an evaluation criterion for climate-neutral data centers that will be mandatory from 2027. Data center operators have the possibility to apply for promotion for consultation from a certified auditor on energy optimization and certification with the "Blue Angel" eco-label. For DCG I am an accredited auditor. We auditors support our clients with the application, carry out the consulting service that gets which is subsidized by the Federal Environment Agency and an additional bonus is even paid out if the application for the "Blue Angel" is positively checked.
At DCG, the topics sustainability and efficiency are part of our daily work in projects of all sizes. Our clients receive target-oriented consultation that points out potential savings. At the same time, we keep an eye on profitability.
On the one hand, the goal is of course to consequently realize these requirements in our projects. In parallel, we always must take current developments into consideration. Due to the synergies of the five business units of the Data Center Group over the whole value creation chain we are in a very good position and realize efficient and future-proof solutions for our clients.
What future changes and adjustments are being planned and where do they have their focus?
Marina Köhn: We currently waste a lot of energy, and this circumstance urgently must be changed. One big issue is the reduction of energy consumption and of we focus of course on all concepts as e. g. waste heat usage. Unfortunately, we still see a big discrepancy as these topics are often used for headlines and on the other hand they are not strictly realized in the market. A well-founded basis must be created here on which targeted discussions can take place. Politicians, associations, data center operators and the entire industry are required to do so.
Foto Marina Köhn: private source
Foto Dieter Thiel: private source
Picture: © wei / #262972200 / stock.adobe.com (Standard licence)