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Digital Sustainability: Why it matters for the SDGs

Submitted by Kristof Hamelryckx on 19 Feb 2024
19 Feb 2024

UNGSC Power Usage Effectiveness SDG

Digital pollution is a growing concern, with data centers considered among “the most energy-intensive building types,” according to the US Department of Energy, “consuming 10 to 50 times the energy per floor space of a typical commercial office building.1” 

The United Nations Global Service Centre, host to twin technology centres in Brindisi, Italy, and Valencia, Spain, supports the data for all UN peace operations and other entities. Therefore, contributing to digital sustainability, by monitoring and reducing our data centres’ energy usage is a high priority, to align with the Sustainable Development Goals, and comply with international standards.
A fundamental metric in this regard is Power Usage Efficiency (PUE): PUE quantifies the relationship between a data centre's total power consumption and power dedicated to IT equipment. Introduced by The Green Grid (TGG) in 2007, it has become a widely adopted Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for data centre energy efficiency.

Ideal PUE is as close to 1.0 as possible, signifying that nearly all power is used by IT equipment, with minimal energy for facility-related functions. UNGSC is performing well, currently at 1.54 PUE (Brindisi) and 1.62 (Valencia), in line with industry benchmarks, as seen through our CEEDA, Uptime TIER III2,  and European Code of Conduct3 Certifications. 

Our success speaks to the implementation of strategic projects, including: 
•    Free Cooling, capitalizing on cooler external air during winter months. 
•    Augmentation of Solar Capacity. 
•    Solar Panel maintenance for optimal efficiency. 
•    State-of-the-art LED lighting in Data Centres and Operation Building. 
•    Smart Power Distribution Units for monitoring/controlling power consumption at the rack level. 
•    Continuous refinement of infrastructure monitoring with Unite FRIM. 

These efforts directly contribute to SDG7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and SDG13 (Climate Action). By optimizing our PUE, we are promoting renewable energy, minimizing emissions, reducing energy consumption and costs, thereby advancing sustainability across our operations, and working towards a more equitable future for all. 

UNGSC is part of OSCM / DOS. Read about DOS on iSeek or our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

[2] Range of 1.55 to 1.59
[3] The European Code of Conduct analysis shows that the average PUE of the facilities participating in the programme is declining yearly, reaching the value of 1.64.