Comprehensive Strategy Key to Achieving Sustainable Data Centers

Data Center Sustainability Strategy

(Credit: Pixabay)

by | Apr 21, 2022

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Data Center Sustainability Strategy

(Credit: Pixabay)

The sustainability and efficiency impacts of data centers remains a top concern as technology grows at a rapid pace throughout industries, and successfully managing those impacts requires a strategy that covers an organization’s entire operational and financial footprint, according to a report from Uptime Institute.

Those actions should include all facilities, IT operations and stakeholders, with a focus on the most critical sustainability metric, which is energy consumption. From there all other metrics, such as water use, emissions and electronic waste should support that strategy.

The report, which is a piece of a six-part digital infrastructure sustainability series, says despite the increasing focus on just how much of an impact data centers have on energy efficiency and emissions targets, more can be done to make improvements a reality. Uptime Institute says many data center metrics aren’t being tracked, with nearly 50% not measuring water use, 66% not registering emissions data and 75% not tracking IT efficiency.

This comes as more mandatory and voluntary reporting requirements from investors, stakeholders and regulatory agencies make efficiency strategies necessary. Especially with no set standard on data center sustainability requirements, the report says organizations should go beyond these tasks to meet business and market requirements.

Data center efficiency is a significant priority for many companies currently. Google, Meta and Fujitsu are examples of large corporations that have taken on measures in the area early in 2022.

Equinix issued a $1.2 billion green bond to increase data center sustainability, and tools to take a transparent look at the facilities’ carbon footprint have been introduced such as traceability system by Aligned Data Centers. Overall, the green data center market is expected to grow by more than 14% a year through 2032, according to Persistence Market Research.

For data center sustainability strategies to work, though, operators must turn them into actionable plans, according to the report.

That means there needs to be data collection and analysis systems with metrics to track progress and monitor changes in performance. There should be defined projects to improve energy and water use as well as target greenhouse gas emissions.

Management should also commit to providing funding and resources to make the plans a reality. Success relies on significant goals and measurable results in the sustainability areas, including renewable energy and power usage effectiveness improvements, according to Uptime Institute.

The report says organizations also have to be transparent about these efforts and report regularly on progress. A survey by Uptime Institute found that in 2019 only 21% of respondents regularly reported key data center sustainability metrics.

Success in making data centers more efficient can be a boon to organizations, which includes more investment opportunities as well as the possibility to secure green and sustainable bonds, according to the report.

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