Understanding the imperative for sustainable edge data centres

Schneider Electric - As the effects of climate change make themselves known through increasingly severe patterns around the globe, we stand at the crossroad of decisions that will impact and shape future generations.

Today, it is estimated that IT will consume 8.5% of global electricity by 2035, compared to just 5% in 2021. As the footprint of technology and digital infrastructure grow inexorably in our lives, the onus is on businesses – and especially data centres operators, to put sustainability at the forefront of their strategies.

Overcoming the climate challenge together

Fortunately, sustainability agendas are gaining priority within both corporate boardrooms, and the minds of consumers. Yet establishing sustainable practices and putting them into action to meet environmental goals calls for multiple parties within the data centre sector to work together – no single business can succeed as a silo on this front.

Conversely, data centre sustainability is completely doable when operators work with key partners on crucial components as part of a cohesive, overarching strategy. Key components include data centre design, location, power utility, and strategies around operations and energy management.

The following four-stage plan can make a difference:

  • Define what successful sustainability looks like to the organisation
  • Establish clear targets – no matter how small, and push for more gains over time
  • Deploy programs and analyse for improvements regularly
  • Sustain results by monitoring, managing, and sharing the lessons with like-minded partners

By working with a partner with the requisite expertise and experience around sustainability, data centre operators can evaluate the existing portfolio of assets on how it can be possible to maximize the efficiency of existing systems.

Ultimately, operators should consider new data centre designs and concepts that can meet the desired sustainability and efficiency goals. These can then be applied to new projects, or in situations where it makes sense to, leveraged to retrofit existing facilities.

Driving sustainability

Organizations around the globe have made significant improvements in their sustainability programs and reaped the rewards for doing so. This typically ranges from reducing carbon footprint to saving money.

According to Marc Garner of Schneider Electric, Equinix’s Global renewable energy procurement gave them a US$23.2 million cost savings by going fully renewable energy in North America. In Europe, 75% of Iron Mountain’s electricity has been converted to green power while 100% renewable energy serves their entire U.K., Ireland, and Benelux operations.

Sustaining such initiatives do requires a comprehensive view of the environment and the energy impact: As operators drive sustainable initiatives, maintaining efficiency and resiliency might become a challenge. These are vital parts of the puzzle that must be tended to if long-term sustainability goals are to be met.

To be clear, energy is hardly the only element that data centre operators need to think about. A holistic, full-scale view of the environmental impact to look at both the energy impact, as well as the carbon cost around construction and decommission of equipment. Going net-zero is an excellent start.

As an industry, the ball is now in the courts of data centres operators to focus on sustainability to reduce our overall climate impact. And the time to change is now.

Learn more about how Schneider Electric solutions can help you meet sustainability goals in your data centres at link.

Article by Michael Kurniawan, Vice President - Singapore, Malaysia & Brunei, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric

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