CyrusOne News and Blog

How We Manage Our Climate Impact

September 27, 2022

At CyrusOne, we take climate change seriously. It is no longer a far-off event—climate change is a present issue affecting communities around the world. It is also a future issue that experts predict will cause increasingly common catastrophic natural disasters if we don’t dramatically decrease our carbon emissions within the next decade.

All businesses and industries share responsibility to reduce carbon emissions, otherwise known as their climate impact. However, data centers and their operators have a particular obligation to reduce climate impact given how our concentration of computing power results in a large amount of electricity use, which may contribute to climate change if generated from fossil fuels.

As a responsible corporate citizen, CyrusOne recognizes the importance of reducing our carbon footprint to contribute to the global effort to mitigate climate change and its associated risks. As a company, we have set a goal to reach net zero carbon in our operations within the United States by 2040 and within the European Union by 2030. We also have SBTi-approved near-term Science-based Carbon Targets ensure a glidepath to 2030 for all operations and reached climate neutral for our European facilities in 2022 as part of our commitment to the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact. But to fully reach net zero carbon, we have implemented a strategy to address the climate impact from our energy use and associated carbon emissions from across our operations.

First, we evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions we contribute across our data center facilities. With the guidance of the World Resource Institute Greenhouse Gas Protocol (WRI GHGP), we are able to prepare an annual greenhouse gas inventory, which shows us our direct emissions from electricity, diesel, and natural gas—our Scope 1 and 2 emissions. In addition, we estimate our largest indirect emissions including those from our energy supply chain, construction, employee travel, and customer-operated data centers—our Scope 3 emissions.

Second, we work towards reducing our carbon footprint by decreasing energy consumption and directly procuring renewables. When we know our emissions, we can directly avoid emissions in the design of our facilities and through the grids that they pull energy from. By replacing inefficient chillers with high efficiency versions, optimizing cooling equipment and customer server arrangements, and even upgrading lighting fixtures to LED lighting, we have reduced our energy use and resulting carbon emissions. By supporting renewable energy generation projects that supply energy to the grids that our facilities rely on, we are able to procure more carbon-free energy now and into the future.

Finally, we may consider offset mechanisms like Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) as a short-term instrument to help us offset our carbon emissions while long-term renewable projects are developing and when renewable projects provide most, but not all, of a facility’s energy use. We don’t intend to achieve net zero carbon by 2040 with RECs; instead, we consider them to be a temporary incremental mechanism.

Although we have made strides toward our net zero carbon targets both in the US and EU, we won’t be able to combat climate change on our own. CyrusOne is only a piece of the puzzle. Without the cooperation of all industries to significantly lower carbon emissions, businesses, communities, and ecosystems across the world will continue to face climate risks, such as droughts, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the data center industry, there is a large focus on reducing climate impact and less discussion of adapting to climate risk; however, both are equally important to manage. Creating a strategy to reduce climate impact does not inherently reduce climate risk or vice versa.

Read more about how we manage climate risk along with climate impact in our next blog post.