Our definition of sustainability: The capacity for Earth’s biosphere and human civilization to coexist.
It is no secret that the growth of data centers is on the rise (one estimate puts the total at over 7,000,000 data centers world-wide). The International Energy Agency estimates that 1% of all global electricity is used by data centers and that by 2025, data centers will consume 1/5 of the world’s power supply. By 2025, every person in the developed world will have at least one ‘interaction’ with a data center every 18 seconds of their lifetime (and bound to become even more frequent beyond 2025).
Tens of thousands of servers and network devices in a data center require huge amounts of power to operate (measured in megawatts). That heat load then requires some method of heat removal, requiring another power demand. Renewables made up 29 percent of global electricity generation by the end of 2020. Led by wind power and solar PV, more than 256 GW of capacity was added in 2020, an increase of nearly 10 percent in total installed renewable power capacity. It’s a great achievement, but still a long way to go.
Greenhouse Gas: Gasses that contribute to the “Greenhouse Effect” that is a human contribution to global warming. The goal of preventing a 1.5C degree change in average temperature by 2025 is daunting, and one of the more achievable objectives to reaching this is reducing GHG emissions. These come in Scope 1, 2 and 3 as defined by the GHG protocol. Scope 1 and 2 are the “easy targets”, scope 3 is more complicated but accounts for 80% of carbon emissions through “embodied carbon”.
Resource Optimization: Energy, water, land. All finite resources, and are at the core of any sustainability strategy.
Suppliers and Supply Chain: You may be doing everything in your control to reduce the impact of climate change, but what about your supplies and the supply chain they use?
Circular Economy: Reuse, recycle. Go beyond the “trash bin” and “recycle bin”. Identify and separate recyclables. Some recyclables carry a fee (particularly disposal of dangerous or hazardous materials), while others (like metals) may be a source of revenue generation. Regardless, every effort to keep materials out of landfills is critical.
Toxicity and Pollution: To be good stewards of the environment, consumables must be handled appropriately as well. Oil, engine coolant (antifreeze), glycol, refrigerants, fire suppression agents all have a useable life. This isn’t just about “new data center builds”. These chemicals can be toxic not only to humans but to wildlife and domestic pets. If not handled properly, they risk injuring the ecosystems which they are present in. Data centers that are legacy 30 or more years old in many jurisdictions still have fire suppression agents like HALON 1301 or FM200 continue to pose significant GHG impacts.
Every sustainability strategy must include accounting (inventories) and metrics (measurement to goals).
GDCE are a global leader in Sustainability Strategy planning and execution. We are members of the SC 39 Data Center Sustainability technical committee — the members who author, revise and approve standards backed by ISO (International Organization for Standardization). This places us in a unique position as a consulting service provider to align your data center with internationally recognized consensus driven standards.
Contact us to discuss how we can help you achieve sustainability goals for your organization, boost your position in the global market as a sustainability leader that “walks the talk”, and does your part to help your country achieve Net-Neutral by 2050.