News Hub

EU environmental regulations to impact data centre HVAC projects

Written by Tue 27 Apr 2021

As operators begin summer HVAC maintenance, they must contend with new EU regulations

As temperatures go up in the summer months, data centre HVAC systems require extra care: but operators must ensure that they take extra care to comply with environmental regulations.

Summer is often the time when construction, remodelling, and systems maintenance are scheduled, as predictable summer weather helps to reduce delays caused by unfavourable conditions. This summer may prove to be even busier, as many companies delayed their regular summer projects in 2020 due to COVID-related health and financial concerns.

However, as data centre operators get started on their summer HVAC maintenance and improvement schedules, they must consider the implications of EU environmental regulations – particularly those that speak to fluorinated greenhouse gases (F gases).

The EU originally announced their plan to reduce the use of F gases in 2015, with regulation 517/2014. The UK withdrawal from the EU has not affected UK participation in F gas regulation – they issued their own regulation to guide the use, production and trade of F gases which went into effect at the end of the withdrawal transition period, 30 December 2020.

F gases include some commonly used cooling agents for the data centre, mainly hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Data centres throughout the UK and the EU must follow the same schedule to reduce the use of F gases over the next several years.

The three main factors of the legislation are:

  • Limiting sales of F gases
  • Banning the use of F gases in new equipment
  • Preventing unnecessary emissions in existing equipment

Data centres in the EU and the UK planning maintenance and improvement of HVAC systems during the warm summer months should review the regulations, to ensure that they remain in compliance. Some important points include:

Checking equipment for F gas leaks. Depending on the type of HFCs used, and the CO2 equivalency, equipment must be checked for leaks at set intervals. This could be three, six or nine months: or the equipment may require an automated leak-checking system to be compliant.

Refilling equipment with F gases. There are some HFCs that are banned from being used for refilling equipment as of 2020. If your data centre HVAC system requires refill of a banned HFC, the options include using a different F gas; using recovered F gases from the existing system; retrofitting your system, or replacing the equipment entirely.

Replacing or expanding systems with new equipment. If a larger overhaul of your data centre HVAC system is planned, limitations to F gases in new products must be considered. It is illegal for suppliers to sell new equipment that uses banned F gases; and for a company to purchase these (unless they successfully apply for an exemption.)

As the weather heats up, so will data centres. Planning ahead to ensure compliance with all of the regulations that affect data facilities can help to avoid headaches and delays with projects in progress, as well as reducing the impact of data centres on the environment.

Written by Tue 27 Apr 2021


Send us a correction Send us a news tip