Welcome to the Net Positive Water Team, Google!
Last week, Google announced a new water stewardship target to “replenish 120% of the water we consume, on average, across our offices and data centers.” We applaud this ambitious goal and appreciate that companies in the tech industry are taking bold measures to address the challenge of water scarcity.
CyrusOne has been working for a few years now on net positive water projects, where we restore 120% of the water used at a facility. We started in 2019 at our Chandler, Arizona campus and then added our Carrollton, Texas, data center. These are our two largest facilities, which happen to both be located in regions of high water stress. We talk a lot about water use because we believe that the topic has long been neglected in the data center industry, even while U.S. data centers consume about 1.7 billion liters of water per day to keep facilities cool.
As climate change increases water scarcity in many parts of the globe, we data center companies need to take responsibility for our water consumption. Not only is it the right thing to do, but failure to do so could result in significant damage to the industry’s reputation and ability to grow. On the financial side, it is clear that water is extremely undervalued, and thus underpriced. This means that while it is currently cost effective to consume water for cooling in place of electricity, that seems unlikely to last or may create other problems. With the increasing availability of carbon-free renewable electricity, it is possible to eliminate water-consuming cooling systems altogether without increased climate impacts. Maybe the best gallon of water is the one you don’t use!
All of this is why CyrusOne has committed to build all of our new data centers with water-consumption-free cooling equipment and to restore at least 120% of the water we do use (for breakrooms, cleaning, irrigation, etc.) in high-water-stress regions. For 2021, we’ve selected our Allen, Texas, data center to become our third net positive water facility.
CyrusOne is not as large as the tech giants, though, so our potential impact is limited to where we operate. That’s why we’re very glad to see mammoth companies such as Google and Facebook amplifying discussion of this vital issue! We hope others in the industry will sit up and take notice.