Biodiversity Away From Home
In addition to our support of biodiversity at our facility sites (for more information see our last post), we also look for additional opportunities to “do more good” beyond our fence line. This work requires us to form partnerships and leverage the expertise of others.
A great example of this is joining DCs for Bees for our Dublin facility. By aligning our efforts with other data centers, we have been able to have a larger impact than any one of our sites could have achieved individually. Through DCs for Bees, we have also supported native plantings at properties managed by The Irish Native Woodland Trust, extending the benefits across the country.
In addition to this active work, many of our other sustainability efforts are intertwined with biodiversity. For example, our supply chain (limited as it may be) consumes resources. Although this applies to the materials that make up each of our facilities, the primary impacts of our supply chain occur as a result of electricity generation. Among these impacts is water consumption – traditional electrical generation consumes large amounts of water. This water is removed from the watershed, impacting both regional habitat and local communities. In our 2021 sustainability report we discussed at length how water consumption is embedded within electricity generation and how we work to minimize water consumption due to our operations and from the electricity we consume. As we pursue our transition to renewable power, the amount of water consumed in our electrical supply chain will decrease significantly. This will reduce our contributions to the biodiversity impacts of water consumption as well as fossil fuel extraction, but we want to do more.
Unfortunately, there aren’t tradable credits for habitat restoration in the same way there are for carbon offsets, renewable energy, and water restoration. Biodiversity gains are more often an additional benefit to projects completed for other purposes. Therefore, our strategy is be selective when purchasing the aforementioned credits. We select projects with multiple benefits to help us work toward several target topics at the same time; why get a vanilla carbon offset credit, when you can get one that also benefits biodiversity! These additional benefits include expanding or preserving wildlife habitat, reducing water stress, and improving communities.
For example, one way that we have pursued this strategy is through the purchase of Water Restoration Certificates® to increase water flows, improving both regional water stress for human use and also local wildlife habitat. Similarly, when we select renewable energy projects, we look for those that don’t have large negative impacts to habitat or biodiversity. By weaving biodiversity through many programs and efforts we can have a larger impact than if we treated it as a stand-alone topic.
We have begun to map out additional offsite efforts to maximize benefits to biodiversity. Possibilities are endless, though a few we are excited about include expanding partnerships with conservation organizations, supporting nature-based carbon removal or emissions reductions projects, and expanding our selective procurement of water restoration and renewable energy credits with additional benefits!