New govt data centre panel puts spotlight on green credentials

A new panel of data centre providers pursuing government contracts have had to bare their green credentials by meeting a “strengthened” set of standards as the federal government becomes more attune to ESG.

The Digital Transformation Agency has settled on the 18 companies that will make up its new Data Centre Panel, following an 18 month procurement process triggered by the need for more competition in the $100 million-a-year federal government data centre market.

The new panel, which will run for at least the next three years, supersedes the Data Centre Facilities Supplies Panel (Panel 2) that has been in place since June 2014 and will expire at the end of next month.

data storage and cloud

Panellists who also featured on the previous arrangement include Australian Data Centres, CDC Data Centres, Equinix, Fujitsu, Macquarie Telecom and NEXTDC, with DCI Data Centres, Telstra and YourDC among the new joiners.

According to the DTA, the new panel requires providers to meet a range of “strengthened” measures to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, including having a five-star NABERS energy rating or equivalent, a target Power Use Efficiency of less than 1.4 and be accredited for Greenpower.

Technical requirements providers were required to meet include the use of robotics, automation and smart sensors to monitor their facilities, as well as “innovative approaches” to managing temperature controls.

Data centre providers are also required to have a roadmap to meet net-zero emissions through “innovation, planning and investment”, as well as comply with the emissions thresholds under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme.

Earlier this month, the regulator that oversees the NGER scheme rejected a request from CDC Data Centres to have 2020-21 emissions data withheld from public release on the grounds that it could reveal trade secrets.

In addition, data centre providers will also be expected to report environmental ratings, power consumption, and the percentage of power consumed that came from renewable sources, to the DTA.

Wayne Poels, the DTA’s general manager for digital investment advice and sourcing, said the new panel is a “strong signal to the data centre market that government expects to see further investment and innovation to help drive Australia’s response to climate change”.

“As government expands its use of data centres to support the rapid digital transformation of our services and systems, these measures will ensure that providers are supporting our commitment to achieving ‘net-zero’,” he said.

In 2021-22, NEXTDC overtook Equinix as the biggest emitter of the data centre providers, producing 351,338 tonnes of emissions (1289 tonnes of Scope 1 and 350,049 tonnes of Scope 2) in 2021-22, according to the Clean Energy Regulator.

The new panel also maintains requirements under the Protective Security Policy Framework and the Information Security Manual, while introducing “obligations under the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018”, according to the DTA.

It similarly “provides measures to further support compliance with the… Hosting Certification Framework” (HCF), which forces providers to meet requirements if they wish to host sensitive government data and systems rated to a protected classification level.

Only eight of the 18 panellists are certified under the HCF. All eight companies have been certified as ‘strategic’ providers – the highest level of assurance under the framework, requiring providers to allow the government to specify ownership and control conditions.

As revealed by earlier this week, responsibility for the HCF has been transferred to the Department of Home Affairs in a shakeup prompted by the creation of the National office for Cyber Security.

When the DTA tendered for providers to join the panel, it estimated that the average annual spend by non-corporate Commonwealth entities – those that are required to use the panel – will be around $100 million a year.

The full list panellists are:

  • G. Coombs
  • Australian Data Centres
  • CDC Data Centres
  • Datapod
  • Equinix
  • Fujitsu
  • Iseek
  • Macquarie Telecom
  • Manteena
  • DCI Data Centres (NineZero DC Management)
  • Open8 Global
  • Precision Metals Queanbeyan
  • Secure Bits
  • Springfield Real Estate Sales
  • Telstra
  • Ventia
  • YourDC

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

Leave a Comment