The European Commission has launched a project to develop Green Public Procurement (“GPP”) criteria for data centres, in order to provide guidance to public authorities on the criteria for environmentally friendly procurement regarding data centres.

As the amount of data we generate expands exponentially, driven in part by the use of social media, smartphones and, increasingly, the Internet of Things, automation and ‘smart’ technologies, our requirements for data storage continue to grow. Data centres and cloud solutions, being critical to this big data revolution, now form a key component of many businesses’ IT strategy. But along with concerns about cybersecurity, data protection and outsourcing to the cloud (as discussed in our previous Law-Now), the energy requirements and environmental impact of data centres are increasingly becoming part of the corporate agenda. As a consequence, environmental impact, including factors such as energy requirements and sustainability, water use, and equipment lifecycle impact are increasingly being taken into account when upgrading existing data centres, and developing new ones.

Green public procurement is not a new concept, and is increasingly relevant for technology – Climate Change Agreements have been available for some time now and in addition to updating its Best Practice Guidelines for the EU Code of Conduct on Data Centre Energy Efficiency, the European Commission recently issued advice on GPP criteria for computers and monitors.

Against this background, it is expected that the GPP criteria for data centres will be of interest to many in companies as well as public authorities. The GPP project is keen to involve and encourage participation from stakeholders and experts, in order to create a clear, sensible, evidence-based set of guidelines. The project group foresees working with, among others, manufacturers, industry organisations, recyclers, academia, environmental and consumer NGOs, and procurers.

The GPP project will investigate four primary areas:

  1. product definition and scope,
  2. economic and market analysis,
  3. technical analysis, and
  4. expanding upon draft criteria and the technical background.

If criteria are adopted in the future, we can expect them to influence decision making and data storage procurement in sectors outside the public sector.

The project is currently inviting stakeholders to register to receive updates about the process, and is conducting a preliminary survey to ‘prepare the ground’ for the creation of GPP criteria for data centres.