The Sustainable Data Center Evaluation Checklist, Part 2

Feb. 10, 2023
When evaluating a green data center provider to ensure it can meet your sustainability needs, you need to ask about water and determine if it will be an ESG-ready partner.

This concludes our article series on the new imperatives driving sustainable data center capacity planning. This week we'll outline the second and third evaluation criteria on the sustainable data center checklist.

Evaluation Criteria #2: Water — Looking for Solutions Offering Reduction in Water Use and 100% Recycled Water
Question: Does your partner have technologies in place to reduce water consumption?

Bridging from our previous discussion on renewable energy, it’s important to note that water sourcing and consumption are growing conversation points when looking for a colocation partner. Water scarcity adds to the challenges brought on by more data centers and digital economy demands. However, leaders in the hyperscale space understand that water is a precious resource. They also see that developing new solutions to conserve and reuse water is critical for the environment.

For example, Switch’s water processing technology allowed them to reuse its water, eliminate chemicals from its cooling systems and increase efficiency by 400%, for a total savings of more than 155 million gallons of water in just the past three years.

Question: Does your provider use 100% recycled water and have a dedicated effluent water resource?

Beyond water conservation, data center providers must also be good stewards of the environment and good neighbors for surrounding communities. For example, Switch is leading the development of a 4,000 acre-foot effluent water pipeline in Northern Nevada to support these efforts. The pipeline allows the company to run its multi-million square foot data center campus (The Citadel Campus) on 100% recycled, effluent water.

As a client of a green data center, you share in the associated benefits to your environmental responsibility by:

Evaluation Criteria #3: ESG — Leadership and Digital Infrastructure Partnerships

Although our industry is full of acronyms, this one is quite important. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) ratings are a critical consideration to ensure the health and future of an organization.

A recent post on Nasdaq states that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues should be a top concern of corporate management and boards. There was a time when a public stance on ESG issues was a public relations tactic. However, in today’s rapidly changing business climate, attention to ESG issues is critical to long-term competitive success.

What are some of the direct benefits of ensuring you have a strong ESG standing and working with an ESG- ready partner?

  1. Solid ESG programs will increase business value
  2. ESG can unlock additional market and competitive advantages
  3. Proactively managing ESG ensures that activists and analysts see that you’re working with a healthy organization
  4. Customers will look to ESG-ready companies more than others
  5. With hiring and talent retention challenges, companies that focus on ESG attract and retain the best talent

In light of this, corporate executives are increasingly motivated to improve their ESG ratings and thereby drive increased investment in their stock by institutional investors. This is why it’s vital to work with a colocation partner that can have a meaningful impact on customer ESG success. A direct example would be supplying 100% renewable power for their I.T. deployments, which tend to make up a disproportionate share of corporate energy usage.

Question: Is ESG a priority for your data center provider? Do qualified rating entities recognize their ESG efforts?

Working with a colocation provider with a complete ESG plan is critical to creating a healthier organization. When looking for a colocation partner, challenge them on their ESG standards and ask them to see their reporting. Furthermore, validate their plans to continue upholding and improving their ESG practices.

For example, Switch recently received the highest Environmental rating, “E-1”, from S&P Global’s new ESG Credit Indicator Report Card. S&P Global introduced this ESG Report Card as a supplemental component to its well- known corporate credit ratings and analysis. S&P Global rates companies in each ESG category from 1 to 5, with 1 being the highest rating.

As an important note, several governing bodies review ESG ratings and provide 3rd party certifications. The following chart gives an example of some of these organizations.

Download the entire special report, The New Imperatives: Sustainable Data Center Capacity Planning, featuring Switch, for exclusive look into the future of data center capacity planning.

About the Author

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. Bill is currently a freelance analyst, speaker, and author for some of our industry's leading publications.

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