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Leading the Industry towards net-negative carbon emissions

17 September 2020
As sustainability rockets up the agenda of data center customers, more and more of the industry is following our lead
Leading the Industry towards net-negative carbon emissions

In 2014 DigiPlex led the data center industry with its first sustainability report – unique at the time. Now, as sustainability rockets up the agenda of data center customers, more and more of the industry is following our lead. We welcome this. Sustainability is an essential element of any modern business and everyone needs to play their part in tackling the climate crisis.

DigiPlex has now published its 2019 Sustainability Report which not only tracks the progress made to-date but commits the business to specific goals for the next decade. As data centers become increasingly important as the infrastructure of the digital economy, we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to minimize our environmental impact. We firmly believe that a digital, green economy is the only sustainable option. We also know that it is good business – our sustainability choices enhance our commercial standing as the recent over-subscribed placement of our  $67 million bond with investors shows.

As industries and societies accelerate their move to digital services, demand for sustainable data centers will increase, as will scrutiny over their environmental impact. Against this backdrop our 2019 Sustainability Report establishes a new benchmark for the industry, raising the bar on detail and transparency. This year we are again taking a leadership position by making commitments and targets which are aligned to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

DigiPlex has always operated highly sustainable data centers which have transformed the environmental impact of IT for many of our customers and their end-users. For example:
 

  • We have prevented nearly one million metric tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, compared to typical emissions from data centers using electricity from the US grid – the equivalent of driving 3.7 billion kilometers in a typical petrol car (to the moon and back 4,800 times!) - see footnotes 1 
  • Our carbon intensity in 2019 was just 4.3 g/KWh – more than 25 times better than data centers using electricity from a ‘mixed generation’ grid like the UK producing approximately 125 g/KWh.
  • Water efficiency was 0.5 litres per KWh, compared to an industry average of 1.8 litres/KWh 
  • We delivered an average PUE across all sites of 1.5 for the year compared to a global average of 1.67
  • Moving 12GW of load to one of our sites from a data centre in Germany, for example, could not only save $130,000,000 in power costs, but prevent emission of 743,240 metric tons of CO2 in 10 years. That would cost $18.5 million to offset or require the planting of 12,289,631 seedling trees - see footnotes 2&3


There is still much to do across a broad range of sustainability criteria.  The United Nations has declared a ‘Decade of Action’ to deliver on its Sustainable Development Goals, and with Nordic  governments seeking to become carbon-neutral by 2030, DigiPlex is also taking steps to help reduce overall carbon emissions and become carbon negative.

Our 2019 Sustainability Report outlines six objectives and a number of goals that align to seven of the UN's SDGs. 

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The report details each of these to provide transparent status and measures for future progress. The objectives include net-negative emissions, supporting the circular economy with zero waste to landfill and reducing use of mains water by 10%, plus a commitment to fair use of energy. In addition, we have undertaken to increase support for our local communities, to positively impact our customers’ sustainability and to continue to invest in employee wellbeing.

Sustainability is never ‘mission accomplished’ and it is not optional. Minimizing the impact of digitalization on our planet is at the heart of our purpose at DigiPlex. We are looking forward to continuing to work with our customers, suppliers, employees and the wider industry to positively impact the environmental footprint of our digital society.

Please read our report and feel free to share it with your own networks. The more people join our efforts to deliver a sustainable digital economy, the more everyone benefits. The DigiPlex Sustainability Report 2019 can be viewed and downloaded from here. In the interests of sustainability, it will not be available in print and we ask that you consider the environment before printing it yourself.

Article written by DigiPlex CEO, Wiljar Nesse

 

Footnote references:
1. Total DigiPlex power consumption across all sites 2009-2019 of 1.32 TW/h, entered into Greenhouse Gas Equivalence Calculator https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator
2. Figures calculated by DigiPlex based on cost of power in Sweden vs Germany (December 2019 prices) and of a 1.7 PUE vs a 1.2 PUE.
3. https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator

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