Sustainability framework empowers data centre industry to take control of sustainability goals

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Schneider Electric has released a comprehensive novel framework for environmentally sustainable data centres. The framework – claimed by the company to be an industry first – proposes five areas of environmental impact inclusive of key metrics for data centre operators in various stages of their sustainability journeys. By leveraging the framework, operators can mitigate the impact data centres have on the environment.

Data centres are the backbone of today’s digital world. They are also responsible for up to two percent of the world’s carbon emissions, equivalent to that of the airline industry. To contend with an increase in digital bandwidth and IT-sector electricity demand, the industry demands a holistic and standardised approach to environmental sustainability.

Pankaj Sharma, Executive Vice President, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric, said: “Environmental sustainability reporting is a growing focus for many data centre operators. Yet, the industry lacks a standardised approach for implementing, measuring, and reporting on environmental impact. Schneider Electric developed a holistic framework with standardised metrics to guide operators and the industry at large. Our intention with this framework is to improve benchmarking and progress toward environmental sustainability to protect natural resources for future generations.” 

“The data centre industry has made significant progress in increasing energy efficiency; however, as digital demands increase they must remain committed to driving long-term broader sustainability initiatives,” said Rob Brothers, Program Vice President for the Datacenter and Support Services Program at IDC. You can’t have an impact on what you don’t measure; therefore, companies must establish clear and consistent metrics that account for not only efficient technology, but also the consumption (or possible destruction) of natural resources such as water, land and biodiversity.”

Mounting pressures from investors, regulators, shareholders, customers, and employees also drive the need for improved environmental-impact reporting in data centre operations. However, many data centre operators lack sustainability expertise and face a daunting task of determining what metrics to track and strategies to implement.

Schneider Electric’s framework was developed by its Energy Management Research Centre leveraging expertise from ESG experts, sustainability consultants, data centre scientists, and data centre solution architects to take the guesswork out of measurement and reporting. The Energy Management Research Centre was established in 2002 and has developed more than 200 vendor-neutral whitepapers and trade-off tools available for free to the industry.

Data Centre Sustainability Metrics Drive Sustainability Strategy 

Tracking and reporting on standardised sustainability metrics helps drive internal team alignment improvements and increases transparency for external stakeholders, including customers and regulators. Implementing this framework also allows data centre operators to:

  • Remove the difficulty of selecting impactful metrics for tracking
  • Improve communication and alignment with internal teams on sustainability objectives
  • Act on the data to improve operations 
  • Enable regular and consistent reporting for external stakeholders (investors, regulators, potential employees, etc. 
  • Standardise benchmarking across industry peers around the globe

Schneider Electric works with leading technology companies and colocation providers to design, build, operate, and maintain facilities. It is the only digital partner that offers solutions for power, building, IT, and sustainability facets of the business.

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