Environment+Energy Leader Awards: CyrusOne’s water conservation efforts continue to impress in North Texas
The Environment+Energy Leader Awards program recognizes excellence in products and services that provide companies with energy and environmental benefits and in projects implemented by companies that improved environmental or energy management and increased the bottom line.
“For the past few years, we’ve been working to raise the profile of water issues in the data center industry, and we hope this project will set an example of responsible water management as water scarcity increases in many regions,” said Kyle Myers, vice president of Environmental Health, Safety & Sustainability at CyrusOne. “I’d like to thank the Environment+Energy Leader for awarding CyrusOne on our three-part approach to water reduction. It’s nice to get expert confirmation that our approach to help customers scale while reducing environmental impact is real and impactful.”
For the past two years, CyrusOne has pioneered a comprehensive approach to reduce its total water impact in Carrollton, which is a high water-stress region. Conventional wisdom states that evaporating water onsite for cooling saves water in the electricity supply chain, reducing total water use. We tested this assumption using new region-specific methods to estimate the facility’s total water consumption – including both water used on-site and that consumed in the electrical supply chain. We took a three-part approach to reducing our facility’s total water impact on the region:
- First, we upgraded to fully water-free cooling in 2020. After the upgrade, the total estimated water consumption at Carrollton decreased around 5 million gallons per year, proving that evaporative cooling doesn’t always save water.
- Second, we switched some of the facility’s electricity to renewable sources or “waterless” electricity (since solar power doesn’t have any embodied water like traditional fossil fuel thermoelectric power).
- Finally, we also collaborated with nonprofits to restore water to local waterways. Working with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, we used BEF Water Restoration Certificates® to offset our last remaining onsite water use at Carrollton, restoring 20% more water than we withdrew to achieve our net positive water designation at this data center.
This combined approach reduced the facility’s total regional water impact by 75%.
Environment+Energy Leader used an experienced and critical judging panel with a strict set of judging criteria, meaning entrants faced an extremely high bar to qualify for an award in 2022. Their criteria included:
- Contribution—How does the project help companies reach energy, environmental and sustainability management goals?
- Technology—Is the application of technology unique and useful?
- Innovation—Is the project’s approach innovative and useful?
- Ease of use—Is the project easy to understand and implement?
- Efficiency and reliability—Does the project continue working efficiently for a reasonable lifespan?
And the Environment+Energy Leader Awards judges lauded CyrusOne, saying:
- “The project takes into account not only on-site water withdrawals, but also the embodied water use in the electricity supply chain – this is an innovative/holistic way to create a water budget, and one not commonly applied by corporations in their facilities planning.”
- “Water is an exceedingly important topic and one that is underrated in climate change conversations. I commend CyrusOne for focusing on this essential problem and trying to find a solution to pressing water challenges. It is a very successful project, reducing water consumption by 5 million gallons per year is impressive. I wonder how the successes and learnings from their work can be employed by other organizations facing similar challenges.”
- “The clear description of approach via water efficiency, restoration, and ‘waterless electricity’ can also serve as a model for other companies to adopt, thus potentially magnifying impact further.”
The 2022 Top Project of the Year Award is CyrusOne’s second in two years. In 2021, Environment+Energy Leader gave us an award for making our Chandler, Arizona, campus our first net positive water data center and the first such data center that we know of in the world.
CyrusOne recently published its third annual sustainability report, detailing with full transparency all our ESG efforts, achievements and remaining work. The 110-page publication covers corporate governance, environmental impact and social responsibility. You’ll find exhaustive reporting, charts, graphics, statistics, numbers, methodology and highlight stories that confirm our successes and reveal areas where we plan to improve. Read the full report here.