Why colocation providers should set sustainability goals

Colocation providers have a vital role to play in sustainability. They can influence other industries and move the needle towards a greener future by turning to more energy-efficient infrastructure or renewable energy sources.

However, just 43% out of 800 data centre professionals polled says they have developed sustainability initiative improvement plans, according to a recent 451 Research survey. In addition, customers also don’t typically place sustainability high on their shopping list, focusing on considerations such as SLA (Service Level Agreements), uptime, and reliability.

Why sustainability matters

Yet the importance of tackling sustainability will only grow amid megatrends that are forcing the energy landscape to evolve at a much faster pace than it had in the past. For a start, accelerating digitalisation and digital transformation initiatives are placing an exponentially higher demand on digital infrastructure. This is at odds with the trend of decarbonization globally, putting tremendous pressure on colocation providers to do more for sustainability.

From unseasonably cold snaps and heatwaves, droughts, to rising sea levels, climate change is happening right in front of our eyes. As the world rushes to invest in sustainable energy, new technologies and breakthroughs are made with large scale deployments around wind, solar, and wave energy. Ready or not, an energy transition is happening, calling for new ways of thinking by everyone – and especially by large users of energy such as the colocation industry.

Moreover, sustainability is increasingly a competitive differentiator as consumer demand evolve from immediate gains to taking care of the environment for future generations. Though some organisations may have treated sustainability as a feel-good initiative in the past, momentum is growing among corporations to take concrete climate action.

In a recent article, Greg Jones of Schneider Electric noted that 74% of colocation providers say their customers now expect contractually binding agreements around energy efficiency and commitment to sustainability. There’s work to be done, he observed.

Building green data centres

For now, the pressure from regulatory bodies to go green is growing around the world. In Singapore, a data centre moratorium was put in place since 2019 as the country seeks to tackle the daunting challenge of slashing its carbon emissions. Elsewhere, new standards are being considered for the colocation sector, even as shareholders of businesses mull swapping out existing IT infrastructure for more energy-efficient solutions or pivoting to business models that are more environmentally friendly.

Ultimately, the case for climate action is clear. Colocation providers can start this journey by setting science-based targets around carbon neutrality, net-zero emissions, and climate neutrality. Success starts from the crafting of a sustainability strategy with explicit targets and actionable tasks.

Once goals are defined, metrics can be developed to track performance and procedures established to measure and monitor progress. Though some colocation providers are further along than others, every operator that puts out a sustainability strategy nudges the industry one step closer to a greener, sustainable future.

Learn more about EcoStruxure for Cloud and Service Providers which can help you put these theories into practice.

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

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