Climate neutral data centers are essential to the digital economy
DigiPlex is proud to be a part of the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact announced last week. Developed to help deliver the European Union’s Green Deal which was announced just over a year ago, the Pact brings together leaders in data center operations and usage from across Europe. Twenty-five companies and 17 associations have signed the Pact. As part of this commitment, each has agreed to a Self-Regulatory Initiative that will help move the industry towards carbon-neutrality and enhance sustainability. You can find out more by watching this video.
DigiPlex has been a pioneer in sustainable data centers for 20 years, understanding that the advantages of a digital economy cannot come at the cost of the environment. Our own research has shown how sustainability is becoming more of an issue, but also how consideration of sustainability in IT teams often lags other parts of the organisation. We’ve also seen that whilst there is an ongoing shift from on-premises data centers, which tend to be older and less efficient, to newer, sustainable co-location facilities, it is slower than it should be. The agreement by a significant proportion of the industry to champion specific targets will help accelerate consideration and action on these vital environmental goals.
The Self-Regulatory Initiative upheld by the Pact includes five key targets, many of which, I am pleased to say, DigiPlex can already deliver.
The first commitment is to energy efficiency demonstrated by rigorous measurement and targets for power usage effectiveness (PUE). Established by the Uptime Institute, PUE is a globally recognised measure of efficiency that compares the total power consumption of a data center divided by the power needed to support the work of the servers themselves. The closer to 1 the more efficient the data center. The Self-Regulatory Initiative calls for new data centers operating at capacity to reach a PUE of 1.3 by 2025. Existing data centers have until 2030 to reach this target. Our newest data centers are already operating below this level.
100% carbon-free electricity
DigiPlex already meets the second commitment – to match electricity consumption with the purchase of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030. In fact, we do much better than this. We have been using green hydroelectric energy for 20 years and we calculate that our use of 100% sustainable energy has prevented almost one million tons of CO2 emissions since 2009.
We are also ahead on conservation of water. Starting with our 2019 Sustainability Report, we have been monitoring water usage and have a Water Usage Efficiency (WUE) metric of 0.5 litres per KWh compared to an industry average of 1.8 l/KWh. Re-use of rainwater and snowmelt for cooling and other purposes also offsets our demand on potable water from mains supply. We are committed to actively manage water conservation at all our sites.
Re-using waste heat
Heat re-use is a topic that is gaining interest across the industry, especially in areas where community heating initiatives are common. Here again, DigiPlex is a pioneer. We already re-use heat within some sites and in 2018 announced plans to deliver warmth to 15,000 dwellings by reusing the heat created by servers in our data centres in Stockholm and Oslo. These award-winning schemes are a model for many others looking to reuse waste heat. Heat exchangers are included in all the new data centers we build with plans to create ‘campus’ heating to benefit factories and other businesses around our new sites.
Recycle and re-use
Data centers can also produce a great deal of waste, everything from packaging to redundant and obsolete servers and equipment. Although much of the IT hardware in our facilities belongs to our customers, and can contain sensitive data, we committed in our 2019 Sustainability Report to find ways to offer re-use and recycling initiatives to our customers to minimise the impact of waste. Committing to a circular economy is fundamental to DigiPlex and a key element of the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact’s initiative.
An industry steps forward
Whilst we have made progress, and indeed hit targets in many of these areas, we are not complacent. The Pact is a great initiative that will help us and our customers to keep the focus firmly on sustainability as the digital transformation of the economy and society gather’s pace. It is unusual for an industry to come together like this and volunteer to set stringent targets for itself. But climate change is such a pressing issue that demands immediate action. We are proud to include ourselves in this vanguard.
At DigiPlex we firmly believe in not only acting to minimise our environmental footprint and commit to zero carbon operations, but also in leading conversation on this critical issue. We’ve made sustainability the core of our communications for the last four years and it is fantastic to be able to join like-minded industry players, including competitors, in driving this debate forward. We hope to be an active member of the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact and will report on its achievements in future blogs and on the sustainability pages of our website.
Article written by CEO Wiljar Nesse