Earth Day 2021: Where do data centers fit within a green conscious world?
By Matt Pullen, EVP Managing Director, Europe CyrusOne
The global public consciousness around environmentalism and greener practices has been increasing steadily for the past decade or so. It’s fair to say, however, that as we’ve all had time to take a step back and take stock of what matters in the past year, the demand for a greener planet is higher than ever. With recent documentaries like Seaspiracy going viral and making many viewers question how their own habits are potentially contributing to climate change and irreversible ecological effects, we’ve all been forced to pay attention to how the way we live is contributing to the condition of the planet.
Businesses are no exception, with an unprecedented number of high profile brands across the globe having stepped up their commitment to greener practices and demanding sustainable solutions. These pledges, alongside increasing environmental regulations, have seen industries across the board, including the data center sector, taking an active role in finding solutions and open to being held accountable by setting goals and publicly documenting results. Due to the sheer size and scale of the data center industry, we consume a lot of energy, with the world living and working remotely since the start of the pandemic fuelling energy consumption further. We have an obligation to implement and promote more sustainable choices and solutions for our colleagues, peers, customers and the planet.
Recently, there has been a considerable uptake in various pledges across the data center and colocation industry, including our own pledge to become a carbon-neutral operator by 2040, though we are well on track to reach this goal by 2030 in Europe. We’ve also recently announced that CyrusOne is one of 25 companies and 17 associations that have committed to a Self-Regulatory Pact to make data centers in Europe climate neutral by 2030. An unprecedented commitment by our industry, the group will proactively lead the transition to a climate neutral economy, and we are immensely proud to work alongside the EUDCA and its members to bring this sustainability initiative to bear.
Our customers have some of the most ambitious targets when it comes to their own sustainability goals and benchmarks and we are working to ensure we empower them with creative solutions to reduce our collective environmental footprint. We’re taking a holistic view of how we improve everything we touch from an environmental point of view, at every stage of our portfolio’s lifecycle, from initial site selection to solutions engineering, green power procurement, design and construction, ongoing operations, waste management and decommissioning.
We also believe it is important to preserve and improve the local environment, ecology and population surrounding our buildings, and have established ‘habitat’ as the fourth pillar of our global corporate sustainability objective, alongside energy, carbon and water conservation. Several of our new development sites, such as Dublin I and Amsterdam I, now have biodiversity and landscaping plans including native planting, wetland areas and wildflower meadows to create natural habitats and food sources for pollinators.
With flights grounded and public transport out of use for much of the global population, there has been uniquely clear and tangible evidence of the good this is doing for our environment, offering a visual representation of what can be done. With the industry now centre stage , with various governments having sat up and taken notice of data centers, recognising them as a key component in keeping the global economy afloat, it’s more important than ever for us to continue to strive towards a world where data centers can exist while offsetting their environmental impact or eliminating it completely.