Colocation execs fret about sustainability as world eyes water, energy use
What, you thought green tech shift will come from the good of their hearts?
Assessing the sustainability credentials of your company's colocation provider is currently not so simple as they don't all report the same information. However, a move to support best practices will have an advantage in future when the regulatory noose tightens.
These findings come in a new report from the Uptime Institute that examines how some colocation datacenter companies are seeking to tackle sustainability challenges through changes to cooling systems, energy efficiency, and renewable energy procurement, as well as navigating the regulatory landscape.
It observes that a large number of enterprises use colocation facilities as a key part of their IT infrastructure, putting the figure at about one in three. As sustainability rises up the corporate agenda, this is becoming an increasingly important consideration for colocation customers as they try to improve their own sustainability credentials.
Many providers are already moving to improve their sustainability efforts in anticipation of tighter reporting of sustainability metrics becoming mandatory in some jurisdictions in the next five years, according to the report.
It highlights the EU's recasting of the Energy Efficiency Directive to require public reporting of energy performance, for example, and points to growing concerns regarding the use of energy and water by datacenters in some areas, such as parts of the US, Ireland, Singapore and Amsterdam.
Despite this, some colocation operators risk being caught off guard by increasing regulations, with the report claiming that only half (52 percent) currently report their water usage or datacenter carbon dioxide emissions.
The Uptime Institute points out there is a strong financial case for the adoption of sustainability initiatives, as improving energy efficiency directly lowers operating costs (especially at the moment), while reducing Scope 2 carbon emissions. More efficient cooling systems also lead to lower power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratings.
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It identifies a number of measures that colocation providers can implement in order to improve their environmental sustainability performance. These range from simple measures such as fitting blanking panels over empty server racks to improve airflow management, to modernization of legacy cooling infrastructure to improve efficiency.
Using renewable energy to power datacenters where possible is another recommendation, as is the adoption of sustainable design and construction strategies for construction of colocation facilities.
However, the report concludes that sustainability efforts in the colocation industry must ultimately make business sense, so they must either reduce costs or increase revenue by attracting additional customers or investment. ®